Walter Benjamin The Age Of Mechanical Reproduction Essay

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Film, Benjamin points out, is the work of art which is identified as such entirely by its reproducibility (28).

He contrasts films with Classical Greek art, such as sculptures, the technological mode of production of which did not allow for much future modifications to be executed.

Walter Bendix Schönflies Benjamin was a German-Jewish Marxist literary critic, essayist, translator, and philosopher.

He was at times associated with the Frankfurt School of critical theory and was also greatly inspired by the Marxism of Bertolt Brecht and Jewish mysticism as presented by Gershom Scholem.

The original work of art is marked by tradition, heritage, permanence, and uniqueness which contribute to the constitution of its aura.

As opposed to this, the replica is characterized by its transitoriness and repeatability (23).Benjamin admits that the work of art has always been reproducible.But the technological reproduction of art is something new and different (20).As a sociological and cultural critic, Benjamin combined ideas drawn from historical materialism, German idealism, and Jewish mysticism in a body of work which was a novel contribution to western philosophy, Marxism, and aesthetic theory.As a literary scholar, he translated the Tableaux Parisiens edition of Baudelaire's Les Fleurs du mal as well as Proust's In Search of Lost Time.Therefore, it is only inevitable that as a response to the political turmoil he experienced and suffered, he would envision the work of art in his ongoing projects as an active political instrument.He worked on the essay from 1935 to 1939 and produced three versions.He writes that according to Marx capitalism would not only cause ruthless exploitation of the proletariat, it would also lead to the generation of conditions which would ultimately cause its own destruction.Benjamin feels that the change in the mode of production demands the formulation of new theses which would outline the propensities behind the creation of art in the transformed economic environment.The new theses of art would render fascism dysfunctional because it would diminish the importance of creativity and genius, eternal value and mystery, concepts traditionally associated with the work of art.These are the very concepts which if applied in an unrestrained manner may leave factual material susceptible to manipulation by fascism (20).


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