I made another meme...

I think I may need professional help...

In all seriousness, however, there has been some good material released about Walter Benjamin lately. I read this as very positive. Benjamin's understanding of history, aesthetics, culture, modernity and so much else make him a crucial yet undervalued resource for any Marxist. I'm in full agreement with Neil Davidson and others who claim that Benjamin needs to be counted as part of a real, dynamic, revolutionary socialist tradition.

First is MacKenzie Wark's piece at Public Seminar insisting on the relevance of Benjamin's media theories for today. This is a particularly relevant argument given how dominant postmodernists like Marshall McLuhan are in contemporary media studies, imbuing a quasi-mystical power to the media itself. Benjamin's thoughts on the matter are far more material without becoming mechanical or deterministic. The more they can be integrated into a Marxist framework the better.

Then there's the audio from this presentation given at Berkeley by the authors of Walter Benjamin: A Critical Life, Howard Eiland and Michael Jennings. The book was released last year (I have yet to read it myself but am planning to shortly) and the presentation was given this past November, but the audio made its way to the website of Heathwood Institute only yesterday.

The presentation is worth listening to. It's rambling and often quite dry, but its most interesting moments are when the authors are clearly grappling with how one best renders the life and work of Benjamin. One should listen to it with a few grains of salt on hand, however: the authors have some very unkind words for Terry Eagleton's Walter Benjamin: Or, Towards a Revolutionary Criticism. Their gripe? That Eagleton claims Benjamin for Marxism against the efforts of a literary criticism divorced from a socialist project. Taking issue with this seems silly to me, given that there is no way to reasonably reckon with Benjamin's strengths as a critic without fairly approaching his Marxism. Parsing the two apart is rather like trying to pull apart the twines of a rope: you can certainly do it, but the rope loses all ability to fulfill its aim. Nonetheless, an interesting listen.

On a similar note, I'm currently working on an essay about what Benjamin's theories about the aestheticization of politics can teach us about Donald Trump. Stay tuned for it.