Benjamin, 'Notes for The Arcades Project':
- The eternal would be the ruffles on a dress rather than an idea.
- In the fields with which we are concerned, knowledge comes only in flashes. The text is the thunder rolling along afterward.
- Pedagogic side of this project: "To train our image-making faculty. . ."
- The work must raise to the very highest level the art of quoting without quotation marks. Its theory is intimately linked to that of montage.
- Method of this work: literary montage. I need say nothing. Only show. I won't steal anything valuable or appropriate any witty turns of phrase. But the trivia, the trash: this, I don't want to take stock of, but let it come into its own in the onl
y way possible: use it.
- A central problem of historical materialism, which ought finally to be seen: must the Marxist understanding of history necessarily come at the cost of graphicness?
- the historian takes on the task of dream interpretation.
- 'The past has left behind in literary texts images of itself that are comparable to the images which light imprints on a photosensitive plate. Only the future possesses developers active enough to bring these plates out perfectly.'
from "One-Way Street':
- To convince is to conquer without conception.
- These are the days when no one should rely unduly on his 'competence.' Strength lies in improvisation. All the decisive blows are struck left-handed.
- To someone looking through piles of old letters, a stamp that has long been out of circulation on a torn envelope often says more than a reading of dozens of pages.
The omission of theory affects your empirical evidence itself. On the one hand, it lends it a deceptively epic character, and on the other it deprives the phenomena, which are experienced only subjectively, of their real historico-philosophical weight.
To express it another way: the theological motif of calling things by their names tends to turn into a wide-eyed presentation of mere facts. If one wished to put it very drastically, one could say that your study is located at the crossroads of magic and
positivism. That spot is bewitched. Only theory could break the spell....
- Adorno, rejecting Benjamin's Arcades Project idea, 10 November 1938