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Profane illumination

Related: Walter Benjamin - recreational drugs in literature - Scott Thompson on Benjamin's From Rausch to Rebellion - hashish - spirituality

On Hashish (1927 - 1934) - Walter Benjamin [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]


Profane illumination is a term used by critic and philosopher Walter Benjamin to describe the central component of Surrealist experience, perception, and art in his 1929 essay “Surrealism: The Last Snapshot of the European Intelligentsia.” It describes the process by which, sometimes but not always aided by dreams or hashish, a person perceives the most ordinary, overlooked objects of everyday reality – from obsolete train stations to out of place arcades – as uncanny, supernatural, and irrational. According to Benjamin, Surrealism’s ability to disorient and estrange through profane illumination made it a potentially explosive catalyst for social revolution. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Profane_illumination [Jun 2006]


The following essay on Walter Benjamin’s writings and experimental protocols on hashish, opium and mescaline forms a kind of preamble to a series of articles on some of the aesthetic presuppositions of the War on Drugs in the United States and one of its precursors, Hitler’s War on Drugs: Rauschgiftbekämpfung [The Fight Against Drugs] in the Third Reich, itself a long-forgotten importation of American Prohibition wedded to Nazi racial hygiene and a police state apparatus ever-ready to invoke the ‘wholesome popular sentiment’ expressed in the National Socialist-realist aesthetic to legitimize and enforce the performance principle of German fascism. -- Scott J. Thompson http://www.wbenjamin.org/rausch.html

On Hashish (1927 - 1934) - Walter Benjamin

On Hashish (1927 - 1934) - Walter Benjamin [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Walter Benjamin's posthumously published collection of writings on hashish is a detailed blueprint for a book that was never written--a "truly exceptional book about hashish," as Benjamin describes it in a letter to his friend Gershom Scholem. A series of "protocols of drug experiments," written by himself and his co-participants between 1927 and 1934, together with short prose pieces that he published during his lifetime, On Hashish provides a peculiarly intimate portrait of Benjamin, venturesome as ever at the end of the Weimar Republic, and of his unique form of thought.

Consciously placing himself in a tradition of literary drug-connoisseurs from Baudelaire to Hermann Hesse, Benjamin looked to hashish and other drugs for an initiation into what he called "profane illumination." At issue here, as everywhere in Benjamin's work, is a new way of seeing, a new connection to the ordinary world. Under the influence of hashish, as time and space become inseparable, experiences become subtly stratified and resonant: we inhabit more than one plane in time. What Benjamin, in his contemporaneous study of Surrealism, calls "image space" comes vividly to life in this philosophical immersion in the sensuous.

This English-language edition of On Hashish features a section of supplementary materials--drawn from Benjamin's essays, letters, and sketches--relating to hashish use, as well as a reminiscence by his friend Jean Selz, which concerns a night of opium-smoking in Ibiza. A preface by Howard Eiland discusses the leading motifs of Benjamin's reflections on intoxication. --https://www.hup.harvard.edu/catalog/BENONX.html [Jun 2006]

Via http://monkeyfilter.com

Online version in previous translation by Scott Thompson here.

Illuminations () Walter Benjamin

  • Illuminations () Walter Benjamin [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]
    Studies on contemporary art and culture by one of the most original, critical and analytical minds of this century. Illuminations includes Benjamin's views on Kafka, with whom he felt the closest personal affinity, his studies on Baudelaire and Proust (both of whom he translated), his essays on Leskov and on Brecht's Epic Theater. Also included are his penetrating study on "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction," an illuminating discussion of translation as a literary mode, and his thesis on the philosophy of history. Hannah Arendt selected the essays for this volume and prefaces them with a substantial, admirably informed introduction that presents Benjamin's personality and intellectual development, as well as his work and his life in dark times.Reflections the companion volume to this book, is also available in Schocken paperback. --Inside Flap Copy


    Unpacking My Library: A talk about book collecting

    The Task of the Translator: An introduction to the translation of Baudelaire's *Tableaux parisiens*

    The Storyteller: Reflections on the works of Nikolai Leskov

    Franz Kafka: On the tenth anniversary of his death

    Some Reflections on Kafka

    What is Epic Theater?

    On Some Motifs in Baudelaire

    The Image of Proust

    The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction

    Theses on the Philosophy of History

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