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Contraction (Benjamin, reading, history).

[] Aphorisms, apothegms, annotations, maxims, minutes, memoranda, enigmas, reflections, paragrams, and pensees . . . however structurally diverse or thematically different, rhetorically contrary or stylistically unlike, every minor form and deformation, not primarily narrative in nature, has to rely on the succinct pitch of proposition. What defines such texts as "minor," textually speaking, is neither some minority status predicated on rarity or remoteness, nor any minor feature defined according to the canonizing categories of value and judgment, but the fact that their articulation is dense, distinct, and deliberately brief. A minor form, in short, must be short.

[] The economy of expression conventionally attributed to minor forms is possible only by virtue of the pith and pointedness of their wording. Imperative is the conciseness that makes paraphrase impossible and explanation obsolete. Once read, an aphorism should have created the sensation of its own unavoidability. Irrefutable as Nietzsche's philosophizing with a hammer, each sentence must appear to be nailed. (When Goethe praised Athenaeum for its hornet's nest of fragments, he hardly admired the amiable buzz these writings created, but their protracted acumen and pricking pointedness.)(1) Acuity, thus, regulates all minor forms, at the very least insofar as they appear in conventional guise and under customary cover. Rephrasings and synonymous descriptions, like the one in the preceding sentence, or the one in this one, are anathema. All minor forms carry the stamp of contraction.

[] Yet brevity need not be the opposite of capaciousness, contraction not the supposed other of expansion. As the unsigned entries in some of the issues of Athenaeum demonstrate, certain minor forms may in fact be expanded endlessly, in or as a meandering of potentially infinite observations, perceptions, comments, questions, and queries. A summary understanding of minor forms during the period of their most serious theoretical elaboration, that is, Romanticism, would consider this particular feature exclusive of the fragment. Based on a principle of openness contrary to the compositional integrity and cognitive containedness of the traditional aphorism (an aphorism supposedly always has the exact extension of a single thought), the fragment - thus the argument would run - constitutes the particular textual form that non-closure acquires. Marked by a relation to either some anterior intactness or a potential posterior completion, neither quality of which characterizes the fragment's own present, such textuality is invariably a little less than complete and a little more than unfinished. Its discursive form is that of a Nearly.

[] A fragment, then, is that, too, for which contexts are missing. To salvage it amounts to reconstituting its past or constructing for it a future; comprehending a fragment means integrating it. Yet to the extent that it is related to a lost, destroyed, unfinished, forgotten, or misplaced corpus for its consolidation, conservation, and consideration, it will not be comprehended as fragment. "To understand a fragment," rather, "is to understand its incompletion."(2)

[] Thus any cognizance of a fragment is, at best, fragmentary. Writing in the form of fragments, and about fragmentariness, Maurice Blanchot suggests "to keep watch over absent meaning."(3) Understanding, fragmentarily, would amount to this: vigilance.

[] In contrast to the aphorism - which is in need of nothing outside of itself, least of all a context, and for which semantic adequacy is always secured - at the core of the fragment is insufficiency. If it were to lack, it would not be a fragment.

[] Textual shards, fragments are always unredeemed.

[] Hence, invariably, they are also historical. Whereas the aphorism, occurring as much in time as other texts, aims for transhistorical significance by attempting to efface the traces of the conditions of its emergence, the fragment is shot through with history. (This punctilious perforation, inscribed in the fragment, makes it a fragment in the first place.) The former seeks to redeem itself by claiming a trans-temporal perfection which would allow it to signify at any time; its aspiration is to acquire infinity, or at least enough atemporal independence to make it able to speak the language of immutable truths. The latter, by contrast, which is the form not of the immaculate but of the maculated, can only ever be restored in time - and to that which it is not. Thus any salvation of a fragment would also imply the shattering, as it were, of its shattered character. Dispersal of dispersal.

[] The textual appearance of dispersal, fragmentariness requires a notion of history which perceives of the past neither as homogenous, nor as empty, but rather as a construction site. Reading would be one of the names for the availability of such history.

[] Yet fragments remain unreadable, in entire part or in fragmentary whole. Certain of their elements may be understood only in light of other elements which are absent. They constitute fragments because they say less than they could and should. At the same time, according to the law that every fragment instantiates, this shortage of meaning corresponds to an abundance of signs. Because of everything in a fragment that is understandable only in regard to what is missing, a fragment, without fail, contains too much. It is, simultaneously, more than a part and less than a whole.(4) There is always too much to read. And too little.

[] This unreadability, peculiar to the fragment, is linked to its historical nature. Whatever characterizes the fragment's present does so because the past has lost neither relevance nor hold. The fragment is fragmentary, then, because of an actual history. Without the vexatious temporality thus implied - one which remains to be termed and determined - there would be neither too little nor too much to understand, and the fragment would be part purely of the undifferentiated thicket of the past. Having attained integrity and entirety, it would thus be redeemed as fragment. Its fractures would be constitutive of what could now only be considered as intact, and the parataxis which might still articulate its phrases would likewise be regarded as fixed, sufficient, and intended. The fragment would no longer be a fragment, in this reception, but merely a "fragment"; self-contained and in need of no context, like a well-chosen quotation, it would be less than the abundance implied and more than the shortage suggested. With the exception only of few of the commentaries devoted to fragments (such as Blanchot's meditations or Jesper Svenbro's deliberations), this is what has happened, for instance, to the writings ascribed to Heraclitus and Sappho. Their point and relevance is not attributed to what remains unreadable in them, but to their canonical status as classics. Given the definition of a classic in proportion to its readerly accessibility, a fragment can never be canonical.

[] If, theoretically, two separate fragments may be part of the same text, yet neither their thematic orientation or generic attribution, nor their stylistic organization or rhetorical disposition indicate as much, there is, in principle, nothing that could prevent us from assuming that any text may be fragmentary. Although no syntagms break off at midpoint, or beginning and end seem possible to join with discursive alacrity and without unsalvaged semantic remains, the text may still be incomplete - internally torn, rifted, and ruptured . . . Fragmented. Fragmentariness does not always occur as graphic dissociation. It is possible, then, to write fragmentarily.

[] It is possible to write fragmentarily. But only as the interruption, in writing, of writing.

[] However different in aim and articulation, both traditional aphorisms and less traditional fragments are predicated on interruption. Without such constitutive disjunction, neither form would be able to claim the brevity or tautness characteristic of their particular textuality. Generic, as well as sub- or para-generic, distinctions are not the guarantors of disjunction, but its custodians. In the absence of interruption, aphoristic writing would miss its point and fragments would possess neither shortage of meaning, nor abundance of signs.

[] The possible difference between fragmentary writing and other minor forms concerns rather the nature of their relation to interruption. Whereas the latter consolidate themselves in the guise of relative autonomies, thus treating rupture as a mere residue separating different cases of textual intactness, the former is articulated in and as the very fractures of such disjunction. Aphoristic writing "is closed and bounded," Blanchot writes, "the horizontal of every horizon."(5) Its discursive form is that of internal cohesion and continuity. And like any geographical horizon, it remains complete. (A horizon is always circular, whether our ocular abilities inform us to the contrary or not.) Fragmentary writing, in contrast, implies "a new kind of arrangement not entailing harmony, concordance, or reconciliation, but that accepts disjunction or divergence as the infinite center from out of which . . . relation is to be created."(6) The principle of such writing is not composition but juxtaposition, Blanchot continues, or perhaps even disposition, thus presupposing a relation to exteriority that is neither arbitrary nor conciliatory, but necessarily - and necessarily paradoxically - integral to it.

[] Never unique, though invariably finite, a fragment "has no external limit - the outside toward which it falls is not its edge - and at the same time no internal limitation . . . Nonetheless it is something strict, not because of its brevity (it can be prolonged like agony), but through the tautness, the tightness that chokes to the breaking point: there are always some links that have sprung (they are not missing). No fullness, no void."(7)

[] While strictly finite (like the aphorism), the fragment thus maintains - in the full sense of such designation - a relation to incompletion, to the dense lack which amounts to its definition, but in such a manner that its imperfection does not (either ex negativo or ex adverso) make it perfect as incompletion. Only ever nearly, a fragment is, in a sense, infinitely finite.

[] In the fragment, everything is possibly marginal. It possesses no securely determinable core.

[] Hence, as their contracted center, fragments must have detachment. Spatially as well as temporally. Without distance and distention, there can be no fragments. If arranged, as in the Lyceum and Athenaeum, they are organized not according to the laws of composition, but to those of a constellation.

[] Regardless of other considerations, such constellation does not occur under a sidereal sky. It emerges, rather, under the sign of what Blanchot has termed desastre.

[] Among those who have treated the relationship between constellation, contraction, and disaster, perhaps no one has done so as vigilantly in regard to reading as Walter Benjamin. Himself a practitioner of minor forms, few phenomena preoccupied him as consistantly as the implications of minority: ethnical, cultural, political, textual . . . The explication of details, "commentary" was the designation he proffered for the way in which they become available.(8)

[] For the historical materialist whom Benjamin envisioned, as much a strategist as a reader and collector, "nothing" - no sliver, splinter, shard, or shred - "of what has ever happened should be regarded as lost to history."(9) There are, of course, several passages in Benjamin's writings in which this attention to the secondary or discarded would seem to indicate an ambition not only to gather the fragments amounting to mankind's authentic history, but also to consolidate them so as to reconstitute that broken vessel the image of which repeatedly recurs in his writings. The most telling example that such an undertaking would not amount to some underhanded totalization, however, is the amphora to which Benjamin refers in the preface to his translation of the Tableaux parisiens. To quote - modifying a mite - only the section Paul de Man quotes in his much-quoted essay on this text:

In the same manner as the broken parts of a vessel - which, in order to be put together, must follow one another in the smallest details, though they need not be like one another - a translation, instead of resembling the meaning of the original, must lovingly and in detail, in its own language, form itself according to the original's manner of meaning, in order to make both recognizable as broken parts of a greater language, just as fragments are the broken parts of a vessel.(10)

According to this passage, and in accordance with de Man's understanding of it, fragments relate metonymically rather than metaphorically (or metamphorically) to one another. Following instead of matching each other, they remain "broken parts of a vessel," that is, essentially fragmentary. Correspondingly, a translation's relation to its original stays fragmented because it may never mend the original without losing its identity as linguistic transposition. Yet the assumed original, too, is a fragment in that it exists only by virtue of what Benjamin terms tone Sprache, or "pure language."(11) The stress, then, in the quoted passage, should fall on the fact that both translation and original are "recognizable as broken parts of a greater language." Whatever gathering is undertaken, it is never likely to reconstitute a totality for which there is, in fact, no precedent.

[] Benjamin's reine Sprache, without which there would be neither fragment nor language, does not intend, and does not communicate, yet it makes both intention and communication conceivable. It speaks, in language, but as that which cannot be reduced to it. Such "language" may be termed "pure" because, while serving the purpose of rendering communication possible, it is neither instrumental nor an end in itself.(12) Like the fractured lineament enabling one specific fragment to follow another, it is given with it.

[] Without foundation, and unconditionally medial, such impartibility makes the fragments of history, language, and the history of language "recognizable" in the first place. It is what divides and fractures - itself first - and thus, and only thus, communicates. Throughout Benjamin's writings, attempts can be found to circumscribe this logic - one of which, contained among the propositions on the concept of history, offers a particularly dynamic image of what is at stake. "The awareness that they are about to make the continuum of history explode," it is suggested in the fifteenth thesis,

is peculiar to the revolutionary classes at the moment of their action. The great revolution introduced a new calendar. The initial day of the calendar functions as a historical time-lapse camera. And it is basically the same day that keeps recurring in the guise of holy days, the days of mindfulness. Thus calendars do not measure time the way clocks do.(13)

Recording an occurrence by exposing single frames at greater time intervals than normally, the "historical" device invoked allows for the projection of an event in such a manner that it appears accelerated. It does so not so much by virtue of what is ausgespart - thanks, that is, to constitutive omissions - as by contracting time through radical abbreviation. The initial day of the revolutionary calendar, Benjamin informs us, performs this function of a time-lapse camera: it contains the explosive condensation of a "historical consciousness of which not the slightest trace has been apparent in Europe during the past hundred years," but which, once noted and projected in the intensified form of abridgment, "would make the continuum of history come apart," causing chronological time to collapse.(14)

[] The dates of such a calendar, radical and revolutionary, are condensed instances of cessation. Thus folding and compacting time, they offer a temporal arrestment similar to a photograph. Forcing time to hart, they effect that contracted spacing which for Benjamin constituted an "image." As date, this image, by means not merely imagined, is indebted to the particular mnemonic form which, in several of his texts, is referred to in the name of Eingedenken.(15) Just as the past is given to us only by chance, so the image does not emerge by being called upon in attentive recollection. On the contrary, Benjamin emphasizes; concerning the Proustian memoire involontaire, which he translates as Eingedenken, it must be borne in mind that its images

are images we have never seen before we remember them. . . . And it is precisely the most important images, those developed in the darkroom of the lived moment, that we get to see. One might say that our most profound moments have been furnished, like some cigarette packages, with a little image, a photograph of ourselves. And the "whole life" which, as we often hear, passes before the dying or people in danger of dying, is composed precisely of these tiny images. They present a quick sequence, like the small leaflets, precursors of the cinema, in which we, as children, could admire a boxer, a swimmer, or a tennis player during his activities.(16)

Paratactically presenting images of the most profound moments in our lives, such sequences of photos register lived experiences while at the same time indicating our absence from them.(17) They occur by chance, and are, moreover, available solely in the form of repetition. In contrast to the time-lapse camera, which while projecting an event contracts its duration, the action conveyed by these images is caused by genuine lapses in time - by the temporal omissions or blanks separating one frame from another. Without the force of such interruption, the sequence these fragmented "tiny images" form would not allow the impression of an agitated composition to which we, prone to ellipsis, may refer as "the 'whole life.'"

[] For Benjamin, the past was full of such images.(18) While possibly never fulfilled at any time, history is granted fullness by the temporal spacing he termed - relying on The Eighteenth Brumaire - "now-time."(19) "History," it is argued in the fourteenth thesis on the concept of history, "is the object of a construction whose site is not homogeneous and empty time, but one filled with nowtime."(20) Reminiscent of the lapses that create the abbreviated movement of the small pictorial leaflets of yesteryear, such points of Jetztzeit provide the necessary condition for discrete images to remain images, rather than dissolve into the thick continuum which, for historicists, constitutes one single, immutable image. Distinctly separated, they follow, rather than match or blend into each other. "Historicism provides the 'eternal' image of the past," whereas "historical materialism supplies a unique experience with it."(21) It is in this latter form of experience - unique because disjunctive, singular because endangered - and always only fragmented - that history becomes properly readable as image.

[] The most notorious, and notoriously dense, passage in which Benjamin discusses such readability is contained in the "N" convolute of the unfinished study of the Parisian Arcades, where he addresses not only what he terms Heideggerian "historicity," but also offers a definition of the image as "dialectics at a standstill."(22) The "historical index of images," Benjamin claims,

does not simply say that they belong to a specific time, it says above all that they come to legibility only at a specific time. And indeed, this "coming to legibility" constitutes a specific critical point of movement inside them. Every now is the now of a specific recognizability. In it, truth is loaded with time to the bursting point. (This point is nothing other than the death of intentio, which accordingly coincides with the birth of authentic historical time, the time of truth.) It is not that the past casts its light on the present or that the present casts its light on the past; rather, an image is that in which the Then and the Now come together in a constellation like a flash of lightening. In other words: an image is dialectics at a standstill. . . . Only dialectical images are genuinely historical, i.e., not archaic images. The image read, that is, the image at the now of recognizability, to the highest degree bears the stamp of the critical, dangerous moment which serves as ground for all reading.(23)

Two aspects of this fragment, much treated in recent time, are indicative of what here is termed "reading": its dangerous as well as endangered nature, and the "specific critical point of movement" it is said to constitute "inside" images. Similar accounts of the threat posed to historiography - as a perilous moment of flash-like risk - can be found elsewhere in Benjamin's writings. The sixth thesis on the concept of history, for example, argues that to "articulate the past historically does not mean to recognize it 'the way it really was.' It means to seize hold of the memory as it flashes up at a moment of danger."(24) The thesis proceeding it, stating that the "past can be seized only as an image which flashes up the instant it can be recognized, never to be seen again," proceeds to claim that this flashing image, brief and vanishing, is "an irretrievable image of the past, threatening to disappear at each present moment which does not recognize itself as the one intended in it."(25) The danger addressed, it appears, is that of a missed connection. It applies equally to the past (precariously brought into the present) and to the present (which, not recognizing itself, runs the danger of losing irretrievably the possibility of a conjunction). As in the case of the images touched upon in the speech on Proust, which evoked Eingedenken, the images mentioned here are those "we have never seen before we remember them." Assuming a prior acquaintance of which we are not aware, cognition is made possible only and strictly by recognition. The singularity to which such understanding can lay claim is thus that peculiar to reiteration. Fragments of history, images are, in a sense, always citations. Furthermore, and more incisively, the critical moment at which such recognition may come to pass constitutes a moment of danger. Actual history is conceivable only when the memory we did not know we possessed appears during a flash-like interval which also accounts for its disappearance. History emerges - is rendered actual - only in the readability of an image prone to disappearance. It is given to us in and as a passing away. "The true image of the past flits by," Benjamin writes.(26) As such flittering or flashing brevity, italicized so as to emphasize its curt and cursory - that is, its kursive - character, history is not the name we give to that which has disappeared, but to that which never ceases to disappear.(27)

[] Ceaselessly disappearing, history, in Benjamin's conception, can never stop vanishing without vanishing as disappearance. ("The fragment," Blanchot writes, "tends to dissolve the totality which it presupposes and which it carries off toward the dissolution from which it does not . . . form, but to which it exposes itself in order, disappearing . . . [,] to maintain itself as the energy of disappearing . . .")(28)

[] Acute as only actuality can be, the bestimmter kritischer Punkt der Bewegung which Benjamin locates inside images is a "point" "loaded to the bursting point with time." As an instance of the radically contracted time moving within images - the succeeding fragment in the "N" convolute terms it a "time-kernel" (Zeitkern)(29) - it provides them with a "historical index." This index is not that of prophecy, foretelling time by pointing out the direction in which future lies, but rather a pointer containing, as that infinitely sharp apex of which Baudelaire spoke,(30) the indication that images flitter and are prone to disappear, and that they only thus, flittering and disappearing, "come to legibility at a specific time." What makes the index "historical" is the indication of a specific coming-to-legibility, which is determined as much by the past as by the present in which it is considered a past. It constitutes a Zeitkern, and as such its truth is "planted in both the knower and the known," denying a concept of truth as timeless, as well as one of truth as merely a "temporal function of knowledge" (as Marxism would have it).(31) Benjamin refers to this contracted puncture as a "zur Lesbarkeit" gelangen. Whatever sense of futurity it implies, this "coming-to-legibility" lays claim neither to prediction, nor to proleptic knowledge of truth as that which will occur as the extension of a historical index. Already a citation,(32) thus implying a future which has always already been, and couched as an infinitive construction, it contracts any extension to a point that indicates only the transitoriness, and thus finitude, of images. Endlessly prey to disappearing, the images that come to legibility are infinitely finite.

[] The notion of "image" proposed in the "N" convolute contains not only a critique of the immutable "archaic images" championed by Jung and Klages, for whom truth would be atemporal and unshakably anchored in imagistic collectivity, but in addition, and accordingly, a conception of the present as also exposed to vanishing. Crucial for this structure, Benjamin's notion of Jetztzeit implies a past filled with images which are neither merely present in, nor simply represented by, history. Rather, the nowtime saturating the past presents the present with an image in which it may recognize itself. It makes the present come or emerge.(33) Yet Jetztzeit can do so only by not being present; itself, it is what must be omitted in order for the present to become actual. Like the infinitesimal lapses between the "tiny images" that conjure up the "whole life" allegedly passing in front of the eyes of a person about to vanish from life, "nowtime" is there, itself ausgespart, by spacing out those instances of presentness which are also images. Strictly speaking, it is the now's difference from itself. Similar to the fragmentation invoked by Blanchot - where it amounts to "the spacing, the separation effected by a temporalization which can only be understood - fallaciously - as the absence of time"(34) - it possesses no extension, and does not allow for the reduction of itself to what might be covered by the notion of an interval. Neither exactly disjunction, nor precisely connective, Jetztzeit cannot be thought of substantially, however much in the negative. Nonetheless, extending and dividing, it distances the now from itself in such a way that it may emerge. As such, and contrary to the images with which the now enters legibility, "nowtime" must remain unreadable.

[] Structurally, this is the definition Benjamin offers elsewhere of the "caesura." First referred to in the 1924-25 essay on Goethe's Elective Affinities and borrowed from the theory of meter, the caesura is considered a moment that provides space - or makes room - for "the expressionless."(35) According to Holderlin's doctrine of "counter-rhythmic rupture" proposed in the remarks on his Sophocles translations to which Benjamin refers, in the caesura, "the change of representation does not appear, but the representation itself."(36) Itself expressing nothing, neither an intention nor its representation, the critical power of the caesura effects no more and no less than the form of representing. It is a "pure word," according to Holderlin, in which "nothing exists but the conditions of time or space."(37) By causing the flow of representations and appearances to come to a halt, though itself neither represented nor appearing, the caesura makes it possible for images, representations, and appearances to be imagined, represented, or appearing.

[] When the "N" convolute reintroduces the notion of the caesura in the context of the dialectical image, it stresses precisely this aspect:

Thinking involves both thoughts in motion and thoughts at rest. When thinking reaches a standstill in a constellation saturated with tensions, the dialectical image appears. It is the caesura in the movement of thought. Its locus is of course not arbitrary. In short, it is to be found wherever the tension between dialectical oppositions is greatest.(38)

The caesura constitutes an immobilization of time which causes the dialectical image to appear as image. As for Holderlin, it provides only "the conditions of time or space." Thus, regardless of how much a Stelle is assigned to the caesura here, it cannot be thought of as a site, but only as that which provides the interruptive tension between the opposites of motion and rest. It is an opening-up in form of a keeping-apart, a rupture which both differentiates and distances. Or: a disjunctive connective, it imparts.

[] Itself neither a motion nor an interval, the caesura effects a standstill in the movement of thought. Only when historical thinking is suspended in the tensely saturated form of a constellation does the dialectical image appear. (Just as the caesura was a principle of composition for Holderlin, so the constellation is for Benjamin.) And only here, in a lapse of time which itself expresses nothing, is the past offered as an image in the now of recognizability. "The past must be held fast thus," Benjamin points out, "as an image flashing up in the now of recognizability. The salvation thus - and only thus - effected, can happen solely concerning that which, in the next moment, already is irretrievably lost."(39) Salvation is possible only for a tittering image, and in the image of its titter. The image read is "dialectical," then, not only by virtue of a tension between opposite elements, not only because the constellation thus created is predicated on the strict discontinuity between past and present, but also, and more important, because in the now of recognizability it is beholden to an image, not of some alien or foreign passing away, but rather of its own.(40) Only in this manner, as an image read in the image of the transience of the image, will the truth "filled to the bursting point with time" constitute a genuine historical event. And just as in the case of Holderlin's caesura, this standstill occurs solely at the "highest point" - or summum - of tension.(41)

[] According to the Proust essay, the novelist's merit was his ability to express such dense points of tension in the realm of literary experience of history. His "true interest concerns the passing of time in its most real, that is, most contracted form," Benjamin remarks, recalling the discussions of the Zeitraffer as well as the pictorial precursors of cinema.(42) Alluding, it seems, to the Kabbalistic doctrine of the zimzum, he refers to this point of outmost tension as a Verschrankung, or "contraction."(43) The particular "eternity which Proust opens to view is contracted time, not boundless time."(44) Infinity, thus, is not to be conceived of as an endless temporal extension without limit, but rather as a contraction so infinite that it becomes a punctum in which extension is bound up without protraction, becoming only tension. This is the summum toward which Proustian memory strives, and its aim is to achieve that "fragile, precious reality: the image," which for Proust would rejuvenate and restore "the original, first happiness,"(45) and which for the materialist historian would redeem the past in the form of a dialectical image. As the "N" convolute emphasizes, the interpretative method required by such Verschrankung must be that of "the splitting of an atom."(46)

[] Hence, contraction, strictly speaking, and always to be spoken of as strict, is made possible only by division. Extending or distending, it brings together.

[] Nowhere does this "most real" and "contracted form" of time passing reign more firmly in Proust "than in memory within and aging without": "within" as a form of memorization in which time is densely folded; "without" as an aging physiognomically readable in or from the wrinkles of a face.(47) To observe this interaction, at the heart of the Proustian Recherche, between aging and remembering, is to "penetrate" into a "universe of contraction."(48) It is a universe constituted as a realm of similarities - the precious domain of correspondences which Baudelaire, too, explored, addressing himself to readers for whom "will power and the ability to concentrate" were no strong points, as Benjamin curtly remarked(49) - and its revelation "in our lived life" is the work of the memoire involontaire, "the rejuvenating force which is a match for the inexorable process of aging":

Proust has brought off the tremendous feat of letting the whole world age by a lifetime in an instant. But precisely this concentration, in which things which otherwise only fade and slumber consume themselves in a flash, is called rejuvenation.(50)

Rather than speeding up the inexorable process of decay and disappearance - a plausible, if not necessary, outcome of letting an entire world age by a lifetime within a single moment - Proust's "concentration" effects a flash-like, shocking rejuvenation. The Verjungung around which Benjamin centers this part of his argument, is not merely to be understood as a "rejuvenation," however, but also - as the German indicates - as a "tapering" or "narrowing." It amounts to a renewal in the form of a contraction, hardening the disparate fragments which constitute our flittering lives into a dense point in the same manner as the nowtime of the Zeitraffer condenses events into an image. "When the past is reflected in the dewy fresh 'instant,'" Benjamin concludes, "a painful shock of rejuvenation once more pulls it together [rafft . . . zusammen]."(51) An elliptical gathering which, while leaving nothing out, contracts the images that make the past readable, such Zusammenraffen assembles their significance into the painful point of a shock - providing life with a concisely gathered, rejuvenating jolt.

[] Pointed, the effect of this action is indexical: "nobody else has had Proust's ability to show us things," Benjamin asserts; his "pointing finger is unequaled."(52)

[] In the Recherche, the memoire involontaire remains resolutely private; in order to pursue it, Proust sacrificed not only "friends and companionship," Benjamin remarks, but also "plot, unity of characters, narrative flow, and the play of imagination."(53) In his voluminous text, neither author nor story line provided unity, only "the actus purus of memory itself."(54) In Benjaminian historiography, such privative Eingedenken is figured in a manner which activates its inherent revolutionary implications.(55) In contrast to Proust's memory, whose "infinite efforts" are aimed at consolidating finite events in the infinite form of their remembrance,(56) thereby sheltering the solitary individual's realm of similarities against the future whose most ominous figure is death, Benjamin's memory (as exemplified by both the sketches of a Berlin childhood and the explicitly theoretical writings) is turned toward the incomplete, indeed the inconcludable, elements of the past - that is, the details and shards which carry the promise of futurity. His tense is not the perfect, as Peter Szondi once pointed out in what remains one of the most perceptive readings of Benjamin's childhood reflections, but the "future perfect in the fullness of its paradox."(57) While Proust's undertaking was dedicated to "the incurable imperfection in the very essence of the present moment," as he is quoted saying,(58) Benjamin's own efforts reside in a radical intervention that does not consolidate the perfected or concluded past with the imperfect present, but rather allows these temporal realms to contract in a standstill predicated on their decisive discontinuity. As both the Proust essay and the theses on the concept of history demonstrate, the futurity thus rendered legible is only guaranteed by the Jetztzeit making the past radically heterogeneous. At issue for the materialist historian, therefore, are "the sparks of hope" which, according to the sixth thesis, are in constant danger of falling into the hands of the enemy.(59) According to another thesis - the second - the past carries with it a "secret index referring to redemption." As a future perfect, this reference is cast in the form of "a weak Messianic power," suggesting not that redemption will in fact occur, but promising only a particular form of temporality "to which the past has a claim."(60) This index is a Verweis, or "reference," in that it indicates - in the perfect tense - the possibility of futurity; but it is also a Verweisung, or "expulsion," to the extent that it remains alien or heterogeneous to the temporality in which it faintly signals its powers. Like severed fingers, or the esprits errants in one of Baudelaire's Spleen poems to which Benjamin refers in the context of discussing the ahistoricity of events eliminated from the calendar,(61) the chips of Messianic power are both indicative and without proper place. Erring omissions or scattered blanks, they are what makes the past incomplete by pointing to that which remains unredeemed.

[] Vital for the future perfect thus signaled, Benjamin's Jetztzeit effects the radical abbreviation which offers the only redemption possible. In the concluding thesis on the concept of history, it is precisely this abridgment - or "paratactic flight," as the Proust essay has it(62) - that serves as a model of "Messianic time":

"In relation to the history of organic life on earth," writes a modern biologist, "the paltry fifty millennia of homo sapiens constitute something like two seconds at the close of a twenty-four-hour day. On this scale, the history of civilized mankind would fill one-fifth of the last second of the last hour." The nowtime, which, as a model of Messianic time, comprises the entire history of mankind in a tremendous abbreviation, coincides exactly with the figure that the history of mankind cuts in the universe.(63)

Just as the abbreviation comprised in Benjamin's Jetztzeit cannot be read literally, so the history of mankind must be understood in the figure it cuts in the universe. Nowtime coincides with this figure's "paltry-fifty-millennia-long"-relationship to the unfathomably long history of organic life on earth. Such coincidence serves as a model for Messianic time not only because it reads and gathers the historical entirety of mankind in a fraction of a second, but also because it does so in the figure that such history cuts in the universe. This fraction of a second both compresses a historical entirety into a point and cuts the time in which it occurs - and cuts it radically short. The figure to which Benjamin refers must be read as such a figure of secession; like nowtime, it is both the abridging contraction of durative time into a second and this second's setting itself apart from the empty, homogeneous time in which it marks only a fraction. The actual history it makes available must be fragmentary.

[] Such radical ambiguity - contraction and secession, extending and dividing - that is, impartibility(64) - prevents the past from being homogeneous and empty, according to the first of the two supplements to the theses, and thus enables the historian to establish a concept of the present as "shot through with chips of Messianic time."(65) Yet the readability that Benjamin's Jetztzeit thus guarantees pertains only to contracted images for which it secures a form of presentation. Like dialectical images, these are images of transitoriness; and like the history they make emerge, they amount to a figure of reading. The shards of the past and present meeting in what the "N" convolute terms an "image read" become historical in precisely this conjunction. History is not a given, nor can historiography be a genre. Both are effects of a reading/gathering together of disparate fragments which, until that moment, acute and acutely dangerous, remained without relation to each other.(66)

[] This moment of history is not only an instant of danger - that is, of impending unreadability - but in addition, as an abbreviation constituting itself in and as reading, its condition of possibility is guaranteed only by the very slivers of nowtime which themselves, though given with time, remain unreadable. Prey to transitoriness, appearing solely in the evanescent image of passing by, Benjamin's abbreviatur is made up of elements strictly finite. Permeating the past while nonetheless keeping itself apart from its particular temporality, nowtime marks these elements with their infinite finitude. In a sense, then, Jetztzeit might be understood as a model of finite Messianism, one which is neither exterior to time, nor posited in the future, but is given with time as time's difference from itself.(67) It is a perfect future dispersed in the past as indices to redemption. As such, the theses on the concept of history affirm, the only cognitive form in which these singular indices may be recognized is that of Eingedenken - a memorization mindful of the one, Ein-, rather than the many, offering memory as a recurring, metonymically ordered punctuality rather than a perpetual, or synthetic, succession.(68)

[] "As is known," the second and last supplement to the theses on the concept of history affirms,

the Jews were prohibited from investigating the future. In contrast, the Torah and the prayers instruct them in mindfulness. This stripped the future of its magic, to which all those succumb who turn to the soothsayers for enlightenment. This does not imply, however, that for the Jews the future turned into homogeneous, empty time. For every second was the small gate through which the Messiah might enter.(69)

Prohibiting its members from turning their attention to the future, Jewish tradition proscribes an experience of time affiliated with Eingedenken. In this practice of mindfulness, the dates of the past are gathered in an activity which does not efface their integrity, but rather maintains their mutual difference from each other. It is thus closer to the prophecies of archaic societies than to the prognoses of historicist teleology in that it, too, is articulated in the form of actualization - or what the Benjamin's Proust essay terms Vergegenwartigung.(70) But whereas archaic prolepsis posits a necessary relation between signs given in the past or present and the significance contained by their future, mindfulness brings together moments whose internal relationship is marked neither by causality nor by analogy, but constituted only in the disjunctive act of memorization.(71) They convey little outside of this conjunction, and nothing about a future which is not that of a perfect tense. To be attentive to these moments, always only emerging punctually, as Jetztzeit or "seconds" given in time as "small gates" kept open, contractions into mere blanks which keep apart, maintaining only the tension in which promise is kept - this is the example offered by Eingedenken.

[] The mnemonic form of keeping watch over the absence of meaning, Benjamin's Eingedenken is still missing, however, in the institutional organization of the German tongue, that is, the Duden dictionary. In a lexical enterprise as indifferent to chance as this, it may perhaps be no coincidence, then, that the only case in which Eingedenken is commemorated - its attributive, adjectival form(72) - occurs immediately prior to the entry on eingedeutscht.

[] In the Goethe essay, Benjamin defines the caesura as that which "gives room to an expressionless force [Gewalt] within all artistic means." In Greek tragedy, this spacing may be noticed as "the hero's falling-silent"; in Holderlin's hymns, it becomes perceptible as an "objection in their rhythm." One "could not characterize this rhythm more concisely," Benjamin continues, "than by saying that something beyond the poet interrupts the language of poetry [etwas jenseits des Dichters der Dichtung ins Wort fallt]."(73) Understood as an "objection" (Einspruch), the caesura does not speak or posit: it is neither the expression of an intention (it remains "beyond the poet"), nor does it display the structural form of extension, whereby it would become an integral part of the rhythm in the form of interval. Rather, it interrupts the homogeneity of structured diction, "precipitating" into it in such a way that it opens it up. A "pure" word in that it amounts to sheer tension, the caesura occurs singularily, as "Einspruch," as a taking place in language of that which is not of it.

[] In one of the adjacent notes to the theses on the concept of history Benjamin points out that the "concept" of the present as a Jetztzeit shot through with "messianic splinters" "posits a relationship between historiography and politics which is identical to the theological one between mindfulness and redemption." "This present," he continues, "precipitates into images which might be called dialectical. They present mankind's 'saving idea.'"(74) Such redeeming Einfall is what literally strikes in the dialectical image, accounting for its pitch and pithiness. It "precipitates" into it, occurring as pricking interruption, thus giving it that stamp signalling "the critical, dangerous moment" which, according to the "N" convolute, renders reading possible. Benjamin's indication that it is the concept of the present as shot through with such striking messianic splinters that "posits" the relationship between historiography and politics is precise insofar as Jetztzeit itself is available neither conceptually, nor performatively, but only as that which, as sundering interruption, makes room for both the concept and its instantiatory enactment. As in the caesura's Einspruch, it amounts to an Einfall which occurs only as an opening-up or, indeed, a promise.

[] According to the fourteenth thesis, what is thus opened up is "history as the object of a construction whose site [Ort] is not homogeneous, empty time, but time filled with nowtime."(75) In the same way as the spacing of this Ort may be understood as that which, according to the Goethe essay, occurs in the "Wort" of poetry by extending and dividing it, so the seconds or moments of Jetztzeit punctuating the homogeneity of the past keep history open as the Ort einer Konstruktion - or, in the words of one of the supplements to the theses, as "die kleine Pforte" through which the Messiah might enter.

[] If the relationship between mindfulness and redemption is identical to that between historiography and politics, as Benjamin asserts, then the Stellen des Eingedenkens occupy Orte performing a similar spacing. They determine history neither as that to which time has occurred, nor as that in which it happened, that is, neither as Jetzt nor as Zeit, but suggest a critically contracted point - which is also a dangerous coming-to-readability - as the disjunctive tension by which the future of history is promised: Jetztzeit. By constricting two radically different notions of temporality - the instantaneous, particular, and always perishing Jetzt and the chronological, general, and durative Zeit - gathering them by way of an abbreviation which instantiates the very notion of nowtime, Benjamin's Jetztzeit enacts not only its own infinite finitude, but in addition, it does so in the very coming-to-legibility whose unreadable premise it remains. Illegible fragmentariness, it imparts itself. Contraction.

Freie-Universitat, Berlin

1 See the letter to Schiller dated July 25, 1798. Werke, Weimarer Ausgabe (rpt., Munich: DTV, 1986), 4;13:226. Praising Proust for the construction he built to house "the bee swarm of his thoughts," Walter Benjamin makes clear that such protraction may, in fact, also apply to texts which in no hitherto familiar sense of the word could be termed "minor." "Zum Bilde Prousts," Gesammelte Schriften, ed. Rolf Tiedemann and Hermann Schweppenhauser (Frankfurt: Suhrkamp, 1974-89), 2;1:312. "The Image of Proust," in Walter Benjamin, Illuminations, ed. and intro. Hannah Arendt, trans. Harry Zohn (New York: Schocken, 1969), 203. Further references to these editions will be given as GS and Ill., respectively.

2 Hans-Jost Frey, Unterbrechungen (Zurich: Howeg, 1989), 27-8. An English translation, by Georgia Albert, is forthcoming from State University of New York Press.

3 Maurice Blanchot, L'Ecriture du desastre (Paris: Gallimard, 1981), 72. Maurice Blanchot, The Writing of Disaster, trans. Ann Smock (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1986), 42 (trans. modified).

4 Frey makes these points with considerably more sophistication. See Unterbrechungen, 50-52.

5 L'Entretien infini (Paris: Gallimard, 1969), 452. Maurice Blanchot, The Infinite Conversation, trans. Susan Hanson (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1993), 308.

6 Ibid., 453/308.

7 Blanchot, L'Ecriture du desastre, 78/46 (trans. modified).

8 "N [Erkenntnistheoretisches, Theorie des Fortschritts]," GS 5;1:574. Walter Benjamin, "N [Re the Theory of Knowledge, Theory of Progress]," trans. Leigh Hafrey and Richard Sieburth, in Benjamin: Philosophy, Aesthetics, History, ed. Gary Smith (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1989), 47.

9 "Uber den Begriff der Geschichte," GS 1;2:694. "On the Concept of History," Ill., 254 (trans. modified).

10 "Die Aufgabe des Ubersetzers," GS 4;1:18. "The Task of the Translator," Ill., 78 (trans. modified). For de Man, cf. The Resistance to Theory, ed. and intro. Wlad Godzich (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1986), 89-91.

11 Ibid.

12 Although impossible to more than indicate in this context, and cursorily at that, an analysis of the attributive designation rein in Benjamin's thinking would have to take into account - to mention but one text - his discussion of the violence involved in any attribution; the critique of violence (as well as of attributive violence); its Kantian inflections; and the attempt to qualify the auspices under which to understand language, mediacy, positing, and impartibility - all of which, and more, occur in "Zur Kritik der Gewalt," GS 2;1:179-203. "Critique of Violence," in Walter Benjamin, Reflections: Essays, Aphorisms, Autobiographical Writings, ed. and intro. Peter Demetz, trans. Edmund Jephcott (New York: Schocken, 1986 [1978]), 277-300. Thus such a study would also have to address the earlier text "Uber Sprache uberhaupt und uber die Sprache des Menschen," in which linguistic means and mediacy is treated. When, for example, Benjamin speaks of what is "mitteilbar" - or "impartable" - in language, this must be understood in regard not only to ability or disposition as such, but also to purity, exposition, and exposedness. See GS 2;1:142. "On Language as Such and on the Language of Man," Reflections, 316 (trans. modified). Elsewhere in the same text: Benjamin argues that language never gives mere or pure signs ("blosse Zeichen"). "Uber Sprache uberhaupt," 150 and 153/324 and 328. (Cf. the discussion, in the violence essay, of "pure life." "Zur Kritik der Gewalt," 202/299.) Lastly, though not finally, an analysis would have to consider Benjamin's reading of Holderlin, in particular as concerns what the latter termed a "pure word" - that is, the caesura. "Anmerkungen zum 'Odipus,'" Samtliche Werke, Frankfurter Ausgabe, ed. D. E. Sattler et al. (Frankfurt: Stroemfeld/Roter Stern, 1988), 16:258. "Remarks on 'Oedipus,'" in Friedrich Holderlin, Essays and Letters on Theory, ed., intro., and trans. Thomas Pfau (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1988), 108.

13 "Uber den Begriff der Geschichte," 701-702/261 (trans. modified).

14 Ibid., 702/262 and 701/261 (trans. modified).

15 Usually translated as "bearing-in-mind" or "mindfulness," the term occurs throughout Benjamin's oeuvre, though it is given sustained theoretical consideration only toward the late 1920s. Beginning in the essay on Proust, and further elaborated in the studies of Baudelaire and Leskov, Eingedenken is both theorized and practiced in the sketches of a Berlin childhood, the notes to the work on the Parisian Arcades, and the theses on the concept of history. See, e.g.: "Zum Bilde Prousts," 311 and 323/204 and 214; "Uber einige Motive bei Baudelaire," GS 1;2:611 and 637-43 ("On Some Motifs in Baudelaire," Ill., 159 and 181-84); "Uber den Begriff der Geschichte," 701 and 704/263 and 266; as well as the preparatory notes to the theses, esp. GS 1;3:1243-244 and 1252. See also the important letter to Horkheimer on March 16, 1937, included in the "N" convolute (589/61), as well as the definition of Eingedenken as "awakening" in an early sketch to the same work (GS 5;2:1058).

Affiliating it with modes of addressing and commemorative appellation in old epics, ultimately based on the disruption of narrative discourse, the Leskov essay conceives of Eingedenken as a memory which functions through a repeated singularity, potentially infinite, rather than through the consolidation of "many scattered occurrences" that ultimately would produce a hyphenated synthesis. It is not reconstitutive, and will not function according to the principle of a vessel. Focused rather than subsuming, intensive rather than comprehensive, it is "mindfulness that, as the Music element of the novel, occurs at the side of the Music element of the story, their originary unity in memory having come apart with the disintegration of the epic." "Der Erzahler," GS 2;2:454. "The Storyteller," Ill., 98 (trans. modified). In the French translation of this essay, undertaken by Benjamin himself during the second half of the 1930s, Eingedenken is translated as souvenance. "Le Narrateur," GS 2;3:1301. (In the same translation, episches Gedachtnis is rendered as memoire epique and verewigendes Gedachntis as souvenance eternisante. This latter souvenance, which is that of the novel, is also contrasted to the souvenir of the story. See GS 2;3:1301.) The opening paragraphs of the Proust essay, however, published seven years before "Der Erzahler," contain a passage in which the concept is discussed in different (though still French) terms. Here, Benjamin makes the distinction that "Proust did not describe life as it had been," but rather "life as remembered by the one who had lived it." "Zum Bilde Prousts," 311/202. Such a circumscription remains imprecise, however, because the memory which finally brings back to Proust his past is not the recollective labor of the intellect - that memoire volontaire or memoire de l'intelligence which Benjamin translates as willkurliches Gedachtnis - but rather a memory that does not obey the will, and therefore does not present a free choice in the manner of Bergson's memoire pure, the vehicle of voluntary contemplative actualization. While Proust referred to this latter form of memory as memoire involontaire, Benjamin, contemplating its affinity with forgetting, terms it "spontaneous mindfulness" or Eingedenken. Ibid.

Although intimate to the notion of Eingedenken, it would carry too far, here, to deal with Benjamin's conception of the interrelationship between memory and forgetting. Suffice it to point to the importance of the figure of "the little hunchback" of German as well as Jewish folklore, responsible for the mischief that happens in our lives, and penalizing us for our inattention with forgetting. The figure returns in several of Benjamin's texts, among them the Kafka essay and Berliner Kindheit. See "Franz Kafka," GS 2;2:425-32 ("Franz Kafka," Ill., 127-34) and Berliner Kindheit um Neunzehnhundert, GS 4;1:302-304 (Walter Benjamin, "The Little Hunchback," trans. Mary-Jo Leibowitz, in Art and Literature 4 [1965], 43-5). Implying thus a qualified notion of attention, Eingedenken no longer obeys the intellect's "call of attentiveness," in the words of the Baudelaire essay (610/158). It is not simply the active expression of a vita contemplativa, but rather one which is secondary, not conjuring forth but being patient - an attention, that is, of vigilance. "This is why Proust finally turned his days into nights, devoting all his hours to undisturbed work in his darkened room with artificial illumination, so that none of those intricate arabesques [of the memoire involontaire] might escape him." "Zum Bilde Prousts," 311/202. The devotion or dedication characteristic of these nights is the particular form such secondary attention takes. It is in this regard that the intermingling of memory and forgetting, also discussed by Benjamin as an ungewolltes Eingedenken, would need further elaboration. Likewise, it remains to be clarified if Benjamin's conception of attention - referred to approvingly in several places, such as the Kafka essay - is indebted to (a critique of) the one advanced by Bergson. See Memoire et matiere (Paris: Alcan, 1908), esp. 100-105. Henri Bergson, Matter and Memory, trans. Nancy Margaret Paul and W. Scott Palmer (New York: Zone, 1988 [1919]), 99-103. (Benjamin's knowledge of, and relation to, Bergsonian philosophy has received surprisingly little attention in the secondary literature, considering that Memoire et matiere advances a sustained theory of the "image," defined as something more than mere representation, but less than a thing. It also presents observations concerning the image consecutive, or "after-image." See, e.g., 105/102.) In addition, a detailed analysis would have to consider Malebranche's use of the term in the Meditations chretiennes - quoted in the Kafka essay - where attention is thematized on the basis of Descartes's distinction, in Les Passions de l'ame, between admiration (passion and consideration) and attention. For Benjamin's reference to Malebranche, see "Franz Kafka," in which he states that Kafka "possessed in the highest degree what Malebranche called 'the natural prayer of the soul': attentiveness" (432/134) - a remark later cited by Paul Celan, with remarkable implications.

16 "Aus einer kleinen Rede uber Proust, an meinem vierzigsten Geburtstag gehalten," GS 2;3:1064.

17 Cf. Eduardo Cadava, "Words of Light: Theses on the Photography of History," Diacritics 3-4 (1992), 106-107.

18 This is a point most clearly made in the "N" convolute, in particular in note 3, 1, where Benjamin discusses the synchronic character of images (cf. 77-8/50-51).

19 For reasons that will become apparent, and against habitual practice, I choose not to hyphenate the English rendition of Benjamin's compound.

20 "Uber den Begriff der Geschichte," 701/261.

21 Ibid., 702/262.

22 For an extended commentary on Benjamin's Auseinandersetzung with Heidegger's "existential phenomenology," see Christopher Fynsk, "The Claim of History," Diacritics 34 (1992), 115-26.

23 The "N" convolute, 577-78/50-51 (trans. modified).

24 "Uber den Begriff der Geschichte," 695/255 (trans, modified).

25 Ibid. (trans. modified).

26 Ibid. (trans. modified).

27 Cf. Cadava, "Words of Light," 102, whose discussion of disappearance is pursued along lines laid out by Jean-Luc Nancy in an essay on "Finite History." See The States of "Theory": History, Art, and Critical Discourse, ed. David Carroll (New York: Columbia University Press, 1990), 149-72. Jean-Luc Nancy, "L'Histoire finie," trans. Pierre-Philippe Jandin, Revue des sciences humaines 213 (1989), 75-86 (rpt. in La Communaute desoeuvree, 2d enl. ed, [Paris: Bourgois, 1990]).

28 L'Ecriture du desastre, 99-100/60.

29 The "N" convolute, 578/51.

30 Cf. "Le confiteor de l'artiste," in Spleen de Paris, Oeuvres completes, ed. Y.-G. Le Dantec, rev. ed. Claude Pichois (Paris: Gallimard [Pleiade], 1961), 278.

31 The "N" convolute, 573/51.

32 But a citation without prior context in the sense that it has no lexical antecedent in Benjamin's writings. For a discussion of the status of Benjamin's "coming-to-legibility," as well as its implicit originary secondariness, and hence its textual ramifications, I must refer to the section on "Avbrottet" in my Det kritiska ogonblicket: Holderlin, Benjamin, Celan (Stockholm: Norstedts, 1991), 71-133.

33 cf. Nancy, 170/95.

34 L'Ecriture du desastre, 99/60.

35 "Goethes Wahlverwandtschaften," GS 1;1:182.

36 "Anmerkungen zum 'Odipus,'" 250/102 (trans. modified).

37 Ibid., 250/102 and 258/108 (trans. modified). Entirely precise, Holderlin's use of the disjunctive connective "or" (oder) indicates the condition of spatio-temporal conditions: without it, neither the possibility of time nor that of space would be given. As a differing and deferring "or," the caesura is this opening-up of their possibility. For an extended meditation concerning such 'ultra-transcendental' condition, see Werner Hamacher, "Ou, seance, touch de Nancy, ici," Paragraph 16, 2 (1993), 216-31 (part 1); and 17, 2 (1994), 103-19 (part 2).

38 The "N" convolute, 595/67.

39 Ibid., 592/64 (trans. modified).

40 I must refer here to a typescript by Werner Hamacher, entitled "Uber einige Unterschiede zwischen der Geschichte literarischer und der Geschichte phanomenaler Ereignisse," in which this condition is analyzed in detail. A few of the sections contained in this essay have been published under the same title in Kontroversen, alte und neue, Akten des. VII. Internationalen Germanisten-Kongresses, Gottingen 1985 (Tubingen: Niemeyer, 1985), 11:5-15.

41 Holderlin, 250/102.

42 "Zum Bilde Prousts," 320/211 (trans. modified).

43 For accounts of the zimzum, see, e.g., Gershom Scholem's entry on "Kabbalah" in the Encyclopaedia Judaica (Jerusalem, New York: Keter and Macmillan, 1971), 10:588-601, as well as his "Schopfung aus dem Nichts und Selbstverschrankung Gottes," Uber einige Grundbegriffe des Judentums (Frankfurt: Suhrkamp, 1986 [1970]), 53-89. See also Jurgen von Kempski, "Zimzum: die Schopfung aus dem Nichts," Merkur 12, 14 (1960), 1107-126.

44 "Zum Bilde Prousts," 320/211 (trans. modified).

45 Ibid., 314/205 and 313/204 (trans. modified).

46 578/51 (trans. modified).

47 "Zum Bilde Prousts," 320/211 (trans. modified).

48 Ibid. (trans. modified).

49 "Uber einige Motive bei Baudelaire," 607/155.

50 "Zum Bilde Prousts," 320/211 (trans. modified).

51 Ibid. (trans. modified).

52 Ibid., 321/212 (trans. modified). According to the traditional notion of a fragment, Blanchot claims, echoing Benjamin's metonymically oriented line of reasoning, "the fragment supposes an implicit designation of something which has previously been or will subsequently become whole - the severed finger refers back to the hand, just as the first atom prefigures and contains in itself the universe." L'Entretien infini, 451/307 (trans. modified).

53 Ibid., 313/204 (trans. modified).

54 Ibid., 312/203 (trans. modified).

55 Irving Wohlfarth addresses some of these implications in an essay "On the Messianic Structure of Walter Benjamin's Last Reflections." See Glyph 3 (1978), esp. 164.

56 "Zum Bilde Prousts," 312/203.

57 "Hoffnung im Vergangenen. Uber Walter Benjamin," Schriften, ed. Jean Bollack et al. (Frankfurt: Suhrkamp, 1978), 2:286. "Hope in the Past: On Walter Benjamin," in Peter Szondi, On Textual Understanding and Other Essays, ed. and intro. Michael Hays, trans. Harvey Mendelsohn (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1986), 153.

58 "Zum Bilde Prousts," 312/203.

59 "Uber den Begriff der Geschichte," 695/255.

60 Ibid., 693/254 and 694/254 (trans. modified).

61 Juxtaposing them with bells that "leap forth with fury," Baudelaire's poem speaks of "vagrant homeless spirits." Oeuvres completes, 71. Benjamin glosses the passage: "The bells, which once were part of holidays, have been dropped [herausgesetzt] from the calendar, like human beings. They are like poor souls who wander restlessly, but have no history." "Uber einige Motive bei Baudelaire," 643/185 (tran. modified).

62 "Zum Bilde Prousts," 322/213 (trans. modified).

63 "Uber den Begriff der Geschichte," 703/263 (trans. modified).

64 Cf. further Jean-Luc Nancy, Le Partage des voix (Paris: Galilee, 1982).

65 "Uber den Begriff der Geschichte," 704/263.

66 Cf. Hamacher, "Uber einige Unterschiede," 9.

67 Referring to Scholem's essay on the messianic idea in Judaism, as well as Wohlfarth's attempt to elucidate the Messianic structure of Benjamin's last reflections, Cadava proposes such "finite Messianism" as fundamental "to the structure of Jetztzeit. It is both what is exposed to time and what exposes time." "Words of Light," 98n.18. For Scholem, see "Zum Verstandnis der messianischen Idee im Judentum," Judaica (Frankfurt: Suhrkamp, 1963), 7-74. "Toward an Understanding of the Messianic Idea in Judaism," trans. Michael A. Meyer, in Gershom Scholem, The Messianic Idea in Judaism and Other Essays on jewish Spirituality (New York: Schocken, 1971), 1-36.

68 Cf. Timothy Bahti, Allegories of History: Literary Historiography after Hegel (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1992), 250.

69 "Uber den Begriff der Geschichte," 704/264 (trans. modified).

70 "Zum Bilde Prousts," 320/211.

71 Cf. Stephane Moses, "Zu Benjamins Begriff des Eingedenkens," Bucklicht Mannlein und Engel der Geschichte. Walter Benjamin, Theoretiker der Moderne, ed. Werkbund-Archiv (Berlin: Museumspadagogischer Dienst, 1990), 100-101.

72 As an old, literary idiom in constructions such as einer Sache eingedenk sein/bleiben. Duden (Mannheim: Duden, 1976), 2:631-32.

73 "Goethes Wahlverwandtschaften," 182.

74 GS 1;3:1248.

75 "Uber den Begriff der Geschichte," 701/261 (trans. modified).
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