Was ist aura?

“Aura” which Benjamin addressed to was never as vivid to me as it stood right in front of me in the archive room down in the basement of Akademie der Künste in Berlin this afternoon. I was taken and completely stoned when I read the line “Was ist aura?” (What is aura?) from his hand-written note on a piece of paper that he probably just grasped from one of his favorite café, a restaurant or a bar. The color trademark of the place is still right at the corner of the paper. I started to imagine this legendary fetishist intellectual buried his face on a small table writing down his ant-sized words with thoughts bigger than the existing being of himself, somewhere in the city but distant from the world.

I felt the “aura” of it, and it was inevitably there showing its absolute presence. I wanted to shut down the world and felt the dead silent of that moment, but there was this absolutely cute German guy doing this one-to-one special tour for me and I couldn’t have said no. (That was the sexist flirting on this Berlin trip so far.) Aura in disturbance. Alright, at least in a pleasant one. Anyway, I was feeling so fucking damned naked to see Benjamin’s scribbles and notes that I wanted to scream out. That was a big big big moment, extending itself into nowhere and no end.

This special exhibition of Walter Benjamin’s Archive was organized and presented by Akademie der Künste, and they made a very special selection of documents, conveying a letter from Benjamin to Adorno, his childhood pictures and passport, the library index Benjamin kept for his books, his private collection of postcards, his note on his son’s linguistic development, the classified envelop system that Benjamin created for his different types of documents, photos of his toy collection, the title list of books he read…These documentation of 13 themes is carefully displayed in rows of custom made glass covered wooden boxes in an archive room about 8×10 meters. It brings the audience in to a personal communicative passage to visit the archive like walking through his mindscape.

So humble I felt in that site, for the intimate connection of this person’s life and work was so well and subtly mapped out in the exhibition. I began to understand how a single soul could ever produce such great works with his gifted brain and laboring ways of living. Benjamin paid such deep attention into almost every possible detail of life, and the way he looked at things made the way he saw things. The vision was therefore born in Benjamin’s way. From his notes, one could read why this essay of Benjamin was ever written, that book of his was ever born…

I am so moved and motivated, and want to swallow some books tonight…

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One response to “Was ist aura?

  1. I can feel your excitement from your article,
    I have to say you really can write, it is beautiful.
    and I feel that those who have great mind save our soul in some moment.and that is why they are so great.

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