Friday, February 29, 2008

Quotations, or Unmistakable Aggressive Force

"The difference between what I write and poetry and literature is that, in principle, what I write is not fiction. But I do wonder more and more: Is there a real difference between and a theory and a fiction?"

-- Jean-Francois Lyotard

""The quotations in my works are like robbers lying in ambush on the highway to attack the passerby with weapons drawn and rob him of conviction." Walter Benjamin, the author of this statement, was perhaps the first European intellectual to recognize the fundamental change that had taken place in the transmissibility of culture and in the new relation to the past that constituted the inevitable consequence of this change."

--Giorgio Agamben

"The particular power of quotations arises, according to Benjamin, not from their ability to transmit that past and allow the reader to relive it but, on the contrary, from their capacity to "make a clean sweep, to expel from the context, to destroy.""


"Alienating by force a fragment of the past from its historical context, the quotation at once makes it lose its character of authentic testimony and invests it with an alienating power that constitutes its unmistakable aggressive force."


"Benjamin, who for his entire life pursued the idea of writing a work made up exclusively of quotations, had understood that the authority invoked by the quotation is founded precisely on the destruction of the authority that is attributed to a certain text by its situation in the history of culture."


""To quote a text means to interrupt its context." Walter Benjamin, Gesammelte Schriften, vol 2.2 (Frankfurt a.M: Suhrkamp, 1972), p. 536."

-- Giorgio Agamben, "The Melancholy Angel", The Man Without Content, trans. Georgia Albert, (California: Stanford University Press, 1999), p. 128, Note 3.

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