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I watch with interest the way intellectual fashions highlight one authority
and dump another, while yet another circles back into favour after a lapse.
At the moment I am intrigued with the revival of interest in Benjamin,
starting around 1989 and peaking in 1992 (the centenary of his birth),
though certainly still continuing, as evidenced by the number of casual
references to his name appearing in so many contexts.
I have followed some of the debates on the Spoons collective site, but I am
interested to know what sort of spin on this comes from the film theorists.
For me, `The work of art in the age of mechanical reproduction' was a key
text in the late seventies, and I still find it exciting. I recognise there
are lacunae and ambiguities (if not direct contradictions) in it, and
perhaps this is inevitable in translation. But the concept of the aura is
still a more positive way of understanding the effect of mediation, in
contrast to the pessimism of, say, Baudrillard. And I need to find hope in a
world that seems bent on destroying all that I value most.
I wonder whether the aura might not be the key to understanding how a canon
(whether high art or popular) operates? If the aura is not just inherent in
the object but also the result of the viewing experience, then different
people will experience it differently for the same work of art (in our case,
film). This is suggested not so much to revive the debate about the canon as
to initiate one about Benjamin, and particularly how useful the concept of
aura is to current film theory?
Ina Bertrand
 
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