ASP Seeks WB’s True Colors


Slought, in Philadelphia, as part of

Straying: Diary of a Cold Universe.

Also Chicago, NYC, Vienna, Interwebz.

Date & Time

Dec. 17, 2015


Free Event

Event Description

University of Chicago Germanic Studies graduate student Tamara Kamatovic will be joining the Analytical Social Psychology group, from Vienna, and Slought, as part of their exhibition on Walter Benjamin’s trip to Moscow, Straying: Diary of a Cold Universe, to discuss her paper:

““Farbe bekennen”: Childlike Observations and Problems of Writing in Benjamin’s Moscow Diary (1926-1927)”

“It will not be the focus of this paper to separate the wheat from the chaff, or to discard the “autobiographical” in favor of the “analytic” or “objective” passages of the text. Indeed, this kind of a reductive reading is entirely impossible if one takes Benjamin’s own reflections on his writing practices and concerns into consideration: he stresses over and over again that his Tagebuch aims at concreteness, or wants to refrain from any theoretical prognostication— what this might mean, however, and how it is implemented, remains to be determined. Rather, this paper endeavors, more generally, to demonstrate the possibility and the usefulness of viewing Benjamin’s “autobiographical” text— and, indeed, the most “personal” and intimate details of that text — as in conversation with the different historical, social, and political concerns that evolve from the portrait he gives of Moscow: a “resounding mask of an environment that has been totally transformed.” In an attempt to dissolve constructed tensions between a private and a public Benjamin, this paper will focus primarily on the Systematik of “seeing” and the tactile “historical images” that Benjamin develops over the course of the diary. More specifically, the goal will be to develop a reading that accounts for this “regime of sight” (the practices that typify Benjamin’s writing on seeing), whose origin lies in a scene of trauma symptomatized by the presence of the color “red” in the diary. This mode of seeing develops in response to many of the challenges Benjamin faced in the Hyperborean Muscovite winter (and, of course, as a result of his ignorance of the Russian language). Finally, this essay will try to understand this epistemology of perception within the context of “creatural” (Kreatürliches Schreiben) or concrete writing.”