Tag Archives: Walter Benjamin

Tea With Chris: The Ratification of Imbecility

Tea With Chris is a roundup of recommended links, posted every Thursday. Here are a few of our favourite things from the Internet this week:

Carl: Abstruse Germanic theory as light aperitif? Yes, please. So I’m grateful that someone on Facebook alerted me to this link to Theodor W. Adorno’s 1956 essay on “Punctuation Marks,” which combines the Frankfurt grump’s characteristic ideological and rhetorical extremism with an atypical user-friendly concision. As a guide to usage and grammar, not so practical; as comedy, though, it is Richard Pryor – hilarious and disturbingly true. A couple of highlights:

“To the person who cannot truly conceive anything as a unit, anything that suggests disintegration or discontinuity is unbearable; only a person who can grasp totality can understand caesuras. But the dash provides instruction in them.”

‎”It starts with the loss of the semicolon; it ends with the ratification of imbecility by a reasonableness purged of all admixtures.”

“The writer is in a permanent predicament when it comes to punctuation marks; if one were fully aware while writing, one would sense the impossibility of ever using a mark of punctuation correctly and would give up writing altogether. For the requirements of the rules of punctuation and those of the subjective need for logic and expression are not compatible: in punctuation marks the check the writer draws on language is refused payment.”

What does that mean? It’s only six pages, so go read for yourself. You will never see the distinction between the Greek semicolon and the Anglo-German semicolon the same way again.

Chris: In the spirit of Carl’s burnt offering, I give you Walter Benjamin’s “On Hashish,” where the comedy seems to be rather more intentional. And since we’ve assembled an accidental tasting menu this week, why not follow it with this Gender Trouble PDF?


Filed under carl wilson, chris randle, linkblogging, margaux williamson

Friday Pictures – The angel of history


Paul Klee’s 1920 painting Angelus Novus,  which Walter Benjamin compared, in the text below, to “the angel of history”

A Klee painting named Angelus Novus shows an angel looking as though he is about to move away from something he is fixedly contemplating. His eyes are staring, his mouth is open, his wings are spread. This is how one pictures the angel of history. His face is turned toward the past. Where we perceive a chain of events, he sees one single catastrophe which keeps piling wreckage upon wreckage and hurls it in front of his feet. The angel would like to stay, awaken the dead, and make whole what has been smashed. But a storm is blowing from Paradise; it has got caught in his wings with such violence that the angel can no longer close them. The storm irresistibly propels him into the future to which his back is turned, while the pile of debris before him grows skyward. This storm is what we call progress.


Filed under books, Friday Pictures, margaux williamson, visual art