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 :: 1982-1940, German Critic, Philosopher

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Only he who can view his own past as an abortion sprung from compulsion and need can use it to full advantage in the present. For what one has lived is at best comparable to a beautiful statue which has had all its limbs knocked off in transit, and now yields nothing but the precious block out of which the image of one's future must be hewn.
~ Walter Benjamin - [Experience]

 

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Opinions are a private matter. The public has an interest only in judgments.
~ Walter Benjamin - [Public Opinion]

 

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Opinions are to the vast apparatus of social existence what oil is to machines: one does not go up to a turbine and pour machine oil over it; one applies a little to hidden spindles and joints that one has to know.
~ Walter Benjamin - [Opinions]

 

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Quotations in my work are like wayside robbers who leap out armed and relieve the stroller of his conviction.
~ Walter Benjamin - [Quotations]

 

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Reminiscences, even extensive ones, do not always amount to an autobiography. For autobiography has to do with time, with sequence and what makes up the continuous flow of life. Here, I am talking of a space, of moments and discontinuities. For even if months and years appear here, it is in the form they have in the moment of recollection. This strange form -- it may be called fleeting or eternal -- is in neither case the stuff that life is made of.
~ Walter Benjamin - [Autobiography]

 

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Separation penetrates the disappearing person like a pigment and steeps him in gentle radiance.
~ Walter Benjamin - [Absence]

 

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Taking food alone tends to make one hard and coarse. Those accustomed to it must lead a Spartan life if they are not to go downhill. Hermits have observed, if for only this reason, a frugal diet. For it is only in company that eating is done justice; food must be divided and distributed if it is to be well received.
~ Walter Benjamin - [Food and Eating]

 

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The adjustment of reality to the masses and of the masses to reality is a process of unlimited scope, as much for thinking as for perception.
~ Walter Benjamin - [Masses]

 

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The art of storytelling is reaching its end because the epic side of truth, wisdom, is dying out.
~ Walter Benjamin - [Story and Story-Telling]

 

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The art of the critic in a nutshell: to coin slogans without betraying ideas. The slogans of an inadequate criticism peddle ideas to fashion.
~ Walter Benjamin - [Critics and Criticism]

 

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The camera introduces us to unconscious optics as does psychoanalysis to unconscious impulses.
~ Walter Benjamin - [Photography]

 

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The construction of life is at present in the power of facts far more than convictions.
~ Walter Benjamin - [Facts]

 

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The destructive character lives from the feeling, not that life is worth living, but that suicide is not worth the trouble.
~ Walter Benjamin - [Destructiveness]

 

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The greater the decrease in the social significance of an art form, the sharper the distinction between criticism and enjoyment by the public. The conventional is uncritically enjoyed, and the truly new is criticized with aversion.
~ Walter Benjamin - [Arts and Artists]

 

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The idea that happiness could have a share in beauty would be too much of a good thing.
~ Walter Benjamin - [Beauty]

 

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The only way of knowing a person is to love them without hope.
~ Walter Benjamin - [Relationships]

 

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The power of a text is different when it is read from when it is copied out. Only the copied text thus commands the soul of him who is occupied with it, whereas the mere reader never discovers the new aspects of his inner self that are opened by the text, that road cut through the interior jungle forever closing behind it: because the reader follows the movement of his mind in the free flight of day-dreaming, whereas the copier submits it to command.
~ Walter Benjamin - [Books and Reading]

 

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The true picture of the past flits by. The past can be seized only as an image which flashes up at the instant when it can be recognized and is never seen again.
~ Walter Benjamin - [Past]

 

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These are days when no one should rely unduly on his ''competence.'' Strength lies in improvisation. All the decisive blows are struck left-handed.
~ Walter Benjamin - [Complacency]

 

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To be happy is to be able to become aware of oneself without fright.
~ Walter Benjamin - [Awareness]

 

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