Walter Benjamin

One of the most remarkable characteristics of human nature,’ writes Lotze, ‘is, alongside so much selfishness in specific instances, the freedom from envy which the present displays toward the future.’ Reflection shows us that our image of happiness is thoroughly colored by the time to which the course of our own existence has assigned us. The kind of happiness that could arouse envy in us exists only in the air we have breathed, among people we could have talked to, women who could have given themselves to us. In other words, our image of happiness is indissolubly bound up with the image of redemption. The same applies to our view […]

hard to explain

hard to explain

It is part of Oscar Wilde’s genius that he successfully presented himself as the writer, director and star of his own Greek tragedy. Was he Icarus – or Christ, perhaps? He identified with both. It is in spite, or perhaps because of, his monumentally successful self-promotion that the peripheral figures who helped to make him into a symbolic behemoth of the 1890s often go unheard against his seductive eloquence. Still, Wilde was not quite as exceptional as he was wont to make his public believe. His extravagant self-fashioning emerged out of a culture in which anxieties regarding effeminate performance and queer desires had been building up for over a century. […]

teeth

teeth

  Mosaic of Cupid on a dolphin, Fishbourne Palace, Sussex Roman Britain carries two heavy burdens. The first is its status as origin myth, complicated and contradictory as such myths inevitably are. The Romans in Britain stand in, ironically, for the British and their empire, with its civilizing mission and a healthy dose of force and might: a collage of Hadrian’s Wall, the grid plan of Camulodunum (modern Colchester) and a mosaic Cupid riding on a dolphin at Fishbourne Palace. The indigenous Iceni and their queen Boudicca demonstrate island pluckiness, exhibit nationalist zeal or head an anticolonial movement when they go on the rampage against Roman occupation. The hybrid Celtic-Roman […]