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Inconceivable EffectsEthics through Twentieth-Century German Literature, Thought, and Film$
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Martin Blumenthal-Barby

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780801478123

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801478123.001.0001

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Pernicious Bastardizations

Pernicious Bastardizations

Benjamin’s Ethics of Pure Violence

(p.101) 5 Pernicious Bastardizations
Inconceivable Effects

Martin Blumenthal-Barby

Cornell University Press

This chapter begins by distinguishing between “presentation” (Darstellung) and representation (Vorstellung). The duality of Vorstellung and Darstellung appears uncertain in light of Walter Benjamin’s announced task to present his critique’s “relation to law and justice.” The question is whether Benjamin’s narrative performance aggravates or mitigates the conflict between act and event, whether he moves “toward a critique of violence” or loses sight of it. The chapter asks how the concept of justice could possibly be done with justice while using a philosophical treatise, which is more of a doing (act) than a happening (event). Provided that Benjamin’s rhetorical expertise will distinguish his performance in the face of the double bind of the law of genre and the specific economy of his text, it will undoubtedly fail to avoid the impasse of the non-presentability and non-representability of justice.

Keywords:   Darstellung, Vorstellung, Walter Benjamin, justice, critique of violence, philosophical treatise

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