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March 2001, Week 3


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Donald Larsson <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Fri, 16 Mar 2001 11:09:38 -0600
TEXT/PLAIN (42 lines)
Peter Feng replies:

> I'm afraid I don't really understand the question.  While Wenders has said
> that his work is Benjaminian, and I think WINGS OF DESIRE is Benjaminian in
> some ways, there are other aspects of Benjamin's writings that are more
> relevant than the concept of "aura."  In particular, Benjamin's "Theses on
> the Philosophy of History," which not incidentally turn on an image of
> angels, strike me as more relevant.

I was wondering about this too, since Benjamin clearly indicates that
he finds film as *destroying* aura by "[detaching] the reproduced
object from the domain of tradition."  It is this that, according to
Benjamin, removes art from its religious functions in ritual and moves
it to politics.  All of this, of course, is not at all a Bad Thing, for
Benjamin at least.  Movie studios do try to compensate for the loss of
aura by creating the "false aura" of the cult of the movie star, but
this is a bad move, in Benjamin's view.

Of course, "The Work of the Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction"
was written at a time when the possibilities of film as a medium were
still a subject of debate.  His conclusions stand, strangley, somewhere
between Dziga Vertov and Bazin in his attention to film's ability to
copy the "real."  And Benjamin was writing before the advent of the
Cult Film and its own conflicted cultures.

What any of this has to do with Wenders, I cannot say.

Don Larsson

Donald F. Larsson
English Department, AH 230
Minnesota State University
Mankato, MN  56001

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