Walter Benjamin Quotes

Best selected Walter Benjamin quotes for your inspiration are given below.

He who observes etiquette but objects to lying is like someone who dresses fashionably but wears no vest. ~Walter Benjamin - Etiquette
He who asks fortune-tellers the future unwittingly forfeits an inner intimation of coming events that is a thousand times more exact than anything they may say. He is impelled by inertia, rather than curiosity, and nothing is more unlike the submissive apathy with which he hears his fate revealed than the alert dexterity with which the man of courage lays hands on the future. ~Walter Benjamin - Prediction
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
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
The only way of knowing a person is to love them without hope. ~Walter Benjamin - Relationships
Gifts must affect the receiver to the point of shock. ~Walter Benjamin - Giving
Death is the sanction of everything the story-teller can tell. He has borrowed his authority from death. ~Walter Benjamin - Story and Story-Telling
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
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
Like ultraviolet rays memory shows to each man in the book of life a script that invisibly and prophetically glosses the text. ~Walter Benjamin - Memory
It is precisely the purpose of the public opinion generated by the press to make the public incapable of judging, to insinuate into it the attitude of someone irresponsible, uninformed. ~Walter Benjamin - Media
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
The destructive character lives from the feeling, not that life is worth living, but that suicide is not worth the trouble. ~Walter Benjamin - Destructiveness
Living substance conquers the frenzy of destruction only in the ecstasy of procreation. ~Walter Benjamin - Procreation
Separation penetrates the disappearing person like a pigment and steeps him in gentle radiance. ~Walter Benjamin - Absence
The art of storytelling is reaching its end because the epic side of truth, wisdom, is dying out. ~Walter Benjamin - Story and Story-Telling
The camera introduces us to unconscious optics as does psychoanalysis to unconscious impulses. ~Walter Benjamin - Photography
Of all the ways of acquiring books, writing them oneself is regarded as the most praiseworthy method. Writers are really people who write books not because they are poor, but because they are dissatisfied with the books which they could buy but do not like. ~Walter Benjamin - Books and Reading
We have long forgotten the ritual by which the house of our life was erected. But when it is under assault and enemy bombs are already taking their toll, what enervated, perverse antiquities do they not lay bare in the foundations. ~Walter Benjamin - Life and Living
Every passion borders on the chaotic, but the collector's passion borders on the chaos of memories. ~Walter Benjamin - Things and Little Things
Books and harlots have their quarrels in public. ~Walter Benjamin - Debate
To be happy is to be able to become aware of oneself without fright. ~Walter Benjamin - Awareness
Any translation which intends to perform a transmitting function cannot transmit anything but information -- hence, something inessential. This is the hallmark of bad translations. ~Walter Benjamin - Translation
Boredom is the dream bird that hatches the egg of experience. A rustling in the leaves drives him away. ~Walter Benjamin - Bores and Boredom
He who seeks to approach his own buried past must conduct himself like a man digging. He must not be afraid to return again and again to the same matter; to scatter it as one scatters earth, to turn it over as one turns over soil. For the matter itself is only a deposit, a stratum, which yields only to the most meticulous examination what constitutes the real treasure hidden within the earth: the images, severed from all earlier associations, that stand --like precious fragments or torsos in a collector's gallery --in the prosaic rooms of our later understanding. ~Walter Benjamin - Self-knowledge
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
All religions have honored the beggar. For he proves that in a matter at the same time as prosaic and holy, banal and regenerative as the giving of alms, intellect and morality, consistency and principles are miserably inadequate. ~Walter Benjamin - Beggars
The construction of life is at present in the power of facts far more than convictions. ~Walter Benjamin - Facts
The idea that happiness could have a share in beauty would be too much of a good thing. ~Walter Benjamin - Beauty
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
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
Counsel woven into the fabric of real life is wisdom. ~Walter Benjamin - Advice
Quotations in my work are like wayside robbers who leap out armed and relieve the stroller of his conviction. ~Walter Benjamin - Quotations
Nothing is poorer than a truth expressed as it was thought. Committed to writing in such cases, it is not even a bad photograph. Truth wants to be startled abruptly, at one stroke, from her self-immersion, whether by uproar, music or cries for help. ~Walter Benjamin - Truth
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
Experience has taught me that the shallowest of communist platitudes contains more of a hierarchy of meaning than contemporary bourgeois profundity. ~Walter Benjamin - Communism and Socialism
Opinions are a private matter. The public has an interest only in judgments. ~Walter Benjamin - Public Opinion
Work on good prose has three steps: a musical stage when it is composed, an architectonic one when it is built, and a textile one when it is woven. ~Walter Benjamin - Writers and Writing
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
Genuine polemics approach a book as lovingly as a cannibal spices a baby. ~Walter Benjamin - Literary Criticism
Memory is not an instrument for exploring the past but its theatre. It is the medium of past experience, as the ground is the medium in which dead cities lie interred. ~Walter Benjamin - Memory
Not to find one's way in a city may well be uninteresting and banal. It requires ignorance -- nothing more. But to lose oneself in a city -- as one loses oneself in a forest -- that calls for a quite different schooling. Then, signboard and street names, passers-by, roofs, kiosks, or bars must speak to the wanderer like a cracking twig under his feet in the forest. ~Walter Benjamin - Cities and City Life

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