The Authentic Benjamin

Exception, Giorgio Agamben, Walter Benjamin, Academic

we late-moderns turn to Benjamin as a kind of figure of pure authenticity, almost a source out of time and out of history. The reason for this is simple, once it is put against the background of, for example, Agamben’s theory of history and modernity. How else, conceptually, could we imagine a source for the kind of emancipation necessary to fully transcend political modernity? In this context, then, Benjamin’s very person emerges as the embodiment of this possibility, and the source, only apparently the product of this modernity, of a pure theory of potentiality — the living exception to the exception.

Jennings, Ronald C. 2011. Sovereignty and Political Modernity: A Genealogy of Agamben’s Critique of Sovereignty.” Anthropological Theory 11 (1): 23–61.