Event

Nov 4-6, 2021
IWBS CONFERENCE: Hoffnung/Hope

Hope: Rethinking with Benjamin 

2021 Conference of the International Walter Benjamin Society
November 4-6, 2021

Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin
in cooperation with the Akademie der Künste, Berlin
and the Leibniz-Zentrum für Literatur- und Kulturforschung, Berlin

According to Walter Benjamin, there is no moment which cannot be revolutionary, i.e. which could not be understood as “a chance for a completely new solution to a completely new problem.” Here, we can take Revolution as not only a rupture in the continuity between past and present, but also as an arising possibility for a (different) future. Revolution, for Benjamin, presents radical new challenges, and yet, it is also permanent, omnipresent, and miniscule in aspiration and effect. Revolution does not only manifest itself in a radical break, as any solution or response—and truly any moment—can take on a revolutionary character.

This wording challenges our familiar image of Benjamin as a melancholic and skeptical thinker; it shows him as a pragmatic and practical writer, constantly on the lookout for new ways and means of intervention. His radicality, then, is less the product of an apocalyptic vision of the future, but can rather be attributed to a clear-sighted engagement with the here and now. Benjamin’s source of hope is not grounded in an unspecified time to come, but in a critical energy aimed at the “completely new problem.”

When viewed from this perspective, Benjamin’s works allow us to think about hope—even and especially today, in the face of challenges that were impossible to foresee. The concept of hope raises several questions: What is hope, and where is it situated? With whom or what is it associated? How can we think of hope, and when thinking it with Benjamin, what can we hope to achieve? To what extent does Benjamin’s notion of hope diverge from both the models of gradual development and from those of radical rupture or caesura? What are the political, epistemological, or moral implications of moments of crisis which cannot be understood in the context of the grand narratives of progress or revolution? And finally, how can Benjamin’s “rescuing impulse” open up new modes of thinking and acting? What new ways of thinking about time—about pasts, presents, and futures—does the “rescuing impulse” introduce? However, Benjamin’s notion of “the new”—of new challenges and solutions—does not only refer to the present, the future, or an extratemporal utopia. It also manifests itself as the revolutionary power of the current moment to unlock “a quite distinct chamber of the past, one which, up to this point, has been closed and locked.” Such a process recalls Benjamin’s historical work, where he hopes to “fan the spark of hope contained within the past.” By reflecting on these and other related thoughts in Benjamin’s writing, this conference will read his texts anew—true to Benjamin’s own dictum that opening up the (present) moment towards its inherent possibilities.

Keynotes: Andrew Benjamin (University of Technology, Sydney), Eva Geulen (ZfL, Berlin)

Program

Address
Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Boltzmannstraße 22, 14195 Berlin, Germany
Room
Zoom/Online Meeting Platform
Contact and Registration

For any further questions please contact Maria Teresa Costa (mcosta@mpiwg-berlin.mpg.de).
To register, please email anmeldung.iwbs@gmail.com. Only those registered will receive the Zoom invite.

2021-11-04T10:00:00SAVE IN I-CAL 2021-11-04 10:00:00 2021-11-06 18:00:00 IWBS CONFERENCE: Hoffnung/Hope Hope: Rethinking with Benjamin  2021 Conference of the International Walter Benjamin Society November 4-6, 2021 Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin in cooperation with the Akademie der Künste, Berlin and the Leibniz-Zentrum für Literatur- und Kulturforschung, Berlin According to Walter Benjamin, there is no moment which cannot be revolutionary, i.e. which could not be understood as “a chance for a completely new solution to a completely new problem.” Here, we can take Revolution as not only a rupture in the continuity between past and present, but also as an arising possibility for a (different) future. Revolution, for Benjamin, presents radical new challenges, and yet, it is also permanent, omnipresent, and miniscule in aspiration and effect. Revolution does not only manifest itself in a radical break, as any solution or response—and truly any moment—can take on a revolutionary character. This wording challenges our familiar image of Benjamin as a melancholic and skeptical thinker; it shows him as a pragmatic and practical writer, constantly on the lookout for new ways and means of intervention. His radicality, then, is less the product of an apocalyptic vision of the future, but can rather be attributed to a clear-sighted engagement with the here and now. Benjamin’s source of hope is not grounded in an unspecified time to come, but in a critical energy aimed at the “completely new problem.” When viewed from this perspective, Benjamin’s works allow us to think about hope—even and especially today, in the face of challenges that were impossible to foresee. The concept of hope raises several questions: What is hope, and where is it situated? With whom or what is it associated? How can we think of hope, and when thinking it with Benjamin, what can we hope to achieve? To what extent does Benjamin’s notion of hope diverge from both the models of gradual development and from those of radical rupture or caesura? What are the political, epistemological, or moral implications of moments of crisis which cannot be understood in the context of the grand narratives of progress or revolution? And finally, how can Benjamin’s “rescuing impulse” open up new modes of thinking and acting? What new ways of thinking about time—about pasts, presents, and futures—does the “rescuing impulse” introduce? However, Benjamin’s notion of “the new”—of new challenges and solutions—does not only refer to the present, the future, or an extratemporal utopia. It also manifests itself as the revolutionary power of the current moment to unlock “a quite distinct chamber of the past, one which, up to this point, has been closed and locked.” Such a process recalls Benjamin’s historical work, where he hopes to “fan the spark of hope contained within the past.” By reflecting on these and other related thoughts in Benjamin’s writing, this conference will read his texts anew—true to Benjamin’s own dictum that opening up the (present) moment towards its inherent possibilities. Keynotes: Andrew Benjamin (University of Technology, Sydney), Eva Geulen (ZfL, Berlin) Program Thursday November 4, 2021 10:00–10:30 Jürgen Renn, Director of the MPIWG: Welcome/Begrüßung Sigrid Weigel, Honorary President of the IWBS: Greetings/Begrüßung Maria Teresa Costa (Berlin), Pola Groß (Berlin), Ursula Marx (Berlin), Daniel Weidner (Halle) 10:30–12:00  Parallel sessions/Parallelsektionen Rescuing Critique/Rettende Kritik (Chair: Pola Groß, Berlin; Falko Schmieder, Berlin) Bernhard Stricker (Dresden): Geistesgegenwart. Benjamin liest Hebel Yanik Avila (Erfurt/Berlin): Das Mysterium der Hoffnung. Erzähltheorien in Benjamins Wahlverwandtschaften-Aufsatz und in Thomas Manns Joseph-Romanen Re-Reading/Relektüren (Chair: Ursula Marx, Berlin; Martin Mettin, Berlin) Antje-Kathrin Mettin (Leipzig): Von der messianischen Kraft des Erzählens Jaime Cuenca Amigo (Bilbao): Self-quotations and Pseudonyms. Invisible Traces in The Author as Producer Troels Andersen (Berlin): Philosophie der Jugend 12:00–13:30  Lunch break/Mittagspause 13:30–15:00 Parallel sessions/Parallelsektionen Utopia and Messianism/Utopie und Messianismus (Chair: Ilit Ferber, Tel Aviv; Gabriele Guerra, Rome) Clemens-Carl Härle (Siena): Hoffen auf, hoffen für Charlotte Trottier (Leipzig): Benjamins Begriff der Hoffnung und eine messianische Philosophie der Zeitlichkeit Monika Tokarzewska (Toruń): “Dann sind wir auf der Erde erwartet worden.” Hoffnung als Anspruch bei Walter Benjamin Re-Reading/Relektüren Holger Brohm (Berlin): Die Legende vom Maler, der in seinem Bild verschwindet. Ein Kapitel zu Walter Benjamins Konzeption des Mimetischen Erdmut Wizisla (Berlin): Vom Widersinn des Hoffens. ‚Hoffnung‘ im Kafka-Essay Jeanne Marie Gagnebin (São Paulo): Hoffnung: klein 15:00–15:30 Coffee break/Kaffeepause 15:30–17:00 Parallel sessions/Parallelsektionen Utopia and Messianism/Utopie und Messianismus  Caroline Sauter (Frankfurt / Main): “Hope Passed Like a Falling Star”: Death and Love in Benjamin’s Goethe’s Elective Affinities and Rosenzweig’s Star of Redemption John Vanderheide (Ontario): The Allegory of Apokatastasis, or Benjamin’s Heresy of Hope Freddie Rokem (Jerusalem / Chicago): The Beggar’s Wish Rescuing Critique/Rettende Kritik Christine Blättler (Kiel): Wider die Rechtfertigung der Siegergeschichte. Zu Benjamins rettender Kritik des Fortschrittsbegriffs Francisco Naishtat (Buenos Aires): Revisiting the Benjaminian figure of “Hope in the past“ through the constellation between Natural history (Naturgeschichte) and History (Geschichte) Frank Voigt (Atlanta): Keine Historisierung? Benjamins ‚Rettende Kritik‘ und ihr Verhältnis zur Geschichte 17:15–18:30 Membership Meeting of the International Walter Benjamin Society 19:00-20:00 Piano Music from 1920s Berlin: childhood and revolution Concert by Samuel Draper (London) Click here to download full program. Friday November 5, 2021 10:00–11:00 Keynote Andrew Benjamin (Sydney / Melbourne): Hopes: Place Making and Space Creating in Walter Benjamin If hope were not singular, what would it become? Rather than allow room for an insistent hopelessness, hope has to be connected to the creation of spaces arising from the suspension of dominant organizational logics. There is no longer a ‘straight gate’. There are only threshold conditions and disclosed spaces of interruption. If, now, there is a thinking of hope then it has to be present within a plurality of hopes.  11:00–11:30  Coffee break/Kaffeepause 11:30–13:00  Parallel sessions/Parallelsektionen Utopia and Messianism/Utopie und Messianismus  Johannes Waßmer (Osaka): ‚Phantasie‘ und ‚Entstaltung‘. Zum Verhältnis von Ästhetik, Messianismus und Hoffnung im Denken Walter Benjamins Javier Toscano (Berlin): Awakening: a politico-existential understanding of messianism. On Walter Benjamin’s project for a new mankind Hyun Höchsmann (Shanghai): ‚Comme l’Espérance est violante‘ – Hope and Utopia in Benjamin, Bloch, and Adorno Architecture, Environment, Natural History/Architektur, Umwelt, Naturgeschichte (Chair: Maria Teresa Costa, Berlin; Toni Hildebrandt, Bern) Maria Filomena Molder (Lisbon): Spes and Natural History Giovanbattista Tusa (Lisbon): A Cosmic Experience. Walter Benjamin in the Anthropocene Benjamin Fellmann (Hamburg): Die straßenerprobte Dialektik des Blicks. Porosität, Aura und Museumsreflexion in Paris bei Walter Benjamin und Georges Salles, 1937, 1939, 1940 13:00–14:30 Lunch break/Mittagspause; virtual Archive tour (Ursula Marx) 14:30–16:00 Parallel sessions/Parallelsektionen Construction/Konstruktion (Chair: Carolin Duttlinger, Oxford; Daniel Weidner, Halle) Gerhard Richter (Providence): Modes of Survival: Mourning – World – Artwork Michael Powers (St. Paul, Minnesota): Esperanto: Scheerbart’s Stellar Language and Utopian Thought Young-Ryong Kim (Seoul): ‚Der Gesang der Karyatiden’ – Die Heterotopie der Hoffnung und die Loggia Walter Benjamins Rescuing Critique/Rettende Kritik Simon Godart (Berlin): Hoffnung und Telescopage Manuela Sampaio de Mattos (Porto Alegre): Could Walter Benjamin’s unconscious of the collective be read as postcolonial? 16:00–16:30 Coffee break/Kaffeepause 16:30–18:00 Parallel sessions/Parallelsektionen Interventionist Thinking/Eingreifendes Denken (Chair: Jörg Kreienbrock, Evanston; Nassima Sahraoui, Frankfurt) Marina Montanelli (Florence): Das Jetzt der Wiederholbarkeit Dirk Brauner (Frankfurt/Oder): Windrose des Erfolges: Idiosynkrasien bei Walter Benjamin Rose Gurski, Cláudia Perrone, Miriam Rosa Debieux (São Paulo): Benjamin, Freud, Politics and Dreams: Oniropolitics as a Form of Hope Architecture, Environment, Natural History/Architektur, Umwelt, Naturgeschichte  Gerhard Wolf (Florence): Drei, vier Stühle: Benjamin und die Schwelle der Bilder M. Ty (Madison): Species Abolition Noa Levin (Berlin): Environmental Eros: Un-Paving Benjamin’s One-Way Street 19:00-20:30 Evening event: Architecture - Space - Anthropocene: Rethinking with Walter Benjamin (Emanuele Coccia and Daniel Libeskind in conversation) (Chair: Jürgen Renn) For Walter Benjamin, reduction and transparency determined the physiognomy of architecture in the twentieth century. He attached to them the hope for change in society and in the relationship between human being and nature. Benjamin’s reflections on architectural changes are indeed part of a true “Philosophy of Space,” in which he reflects not only about our interactions with space, but also within space and therefore with other species that share our environment. Space is also not considered as an object, but instead as the condition of possibility of the coexistence between different species and becomes as such a political and environmental relevance. In the frame of the 2021 conference of the International Walter Benjamin Society “Hope – rethinking with Benjamin,” philosopher Emanuele Coccia and architect Daniel Libeskind will talk about Benjamin’s relevance for contemporary architecture, for environmental issues and for possible forms of coexistence in a world in which the centrality of the human being is sometimes questioned. Both Coccia’s last publications (La vie des plantes, Paris 2016; Métamorphoses, Paris 2020; and Filosofia della casa, Turin 2021), translated in many European and non-European languages, and Libeskind’s site-conscious architecture and design show an original perspective on the above-mentioned topics, which follow the trail of Benjamin’s critical and visual thinking “going against the grain.” Saturday November 6, 2021 10:00–11:00 Keynote Eva Geulen (Berlin): Hope and the Lessons of Experience First impressions notwithstanding, hope is not quite as ubiquitous in Benjamin as one might think. Moreover, it is difficult to disentangle from related notions such as salvation/rescue, escape among others. The lecture addresses these problems by focussing on the fact that Benjamin's notion of hope is not oriented towards the future but the past. With this shift to the past, the idea of experience gains importance. Reading early texts such as "The Life of Students"  and "On the Program of a Coming Philosophy"  up to and including the essay on Goethe's "Elective Affinities" the paper hopes to shed some light on early Benjamin's conception of hope.  11:00–11:30  Coffee break/Kaffeepause 11:30–13:00  Parallel sessions/Parallelsektionen Construction/Konstruktion Federica Murè (London): Konstruktion als Komposition: Walter Benjamin`s “Thoroughly-Composed” Gesture Jean-Baptiste Ghins (Paris): Walter Benjamin and Le Corbusier. Is there something like a Benjaminian technological utopia? Mariana Pinto dos Santos (Lisbon): The fugitive symptom of civilization: the implications of “primitivism” in Benjamin’s modernity Interventionist Thinking/Eingreifendes Denken Sabine Schiller-Lerg (Münster): Hoffnungsträger Rundfunk. Walter Benjamins Konzept für eine populäre Wissenschaft Antonio Roselli (Magdeburg): Von der Glaskonstruktion zum Kinosaal: Über die räumlichen Bedingungen einer kollektiven (Selbst-)Wahrnehmung des Kollektivs Ori Rotlevy (Tel Aviv): The Text as Barricade? On Mimetic Relations Between Theory and Praxis 13:00–14:00  Lunch break/Mittagspause 14:00–15:30 Parallel sessions/Parallelsektionen Interventionist Thinking/Eingreifendes Denken Sebastian Kugler (Wien): Eine Ahnung von Revolution. Benjamin und Trotzki Robert Krause (Freiburg): Hoffnung auf Muße. Benjamin und Fourier als Vordenker des Bedingungslosen Grundeinkommens Anna Migliorini (Florence): Critique and Task: Towards the Real State of Exception Architecture, Environment, Natural History/Architektur, Umwelt, Naturgeschichte Milena Massalongo (Mantova): Wetten auf radikale Exposition. Benjamins „Ausstellungswert“ Peter J. Schneemann (Bern): Spuren einer vergangenen Zukunft. Temporalitäten der zeitgenössischen Kunst in der Auseinandersetzung mit der Umwelt Film screening and Artist talk: Chantal Benjamin, Lais Benjamin Campos, Aura Rosenberg and Frances Scholz discuss with Maria Teresa Costa and Toni Hildebrandt 15:30–16:00 Coffee break/Kaffeepause 16:00–17:30 Parallel sessions/Parallelsektionen Construction/Konstruktion Sophia Buck (Oxford): The Hope for new (de)colonial Politics of the Visible. Walter Benjamin between the French and the (Soviet)Russian Practices of Imperialism Sophia Ebert (Mainz): Benjamin als Mitarbeiter Re-Reading/Relektüren Ghilad H. Shenhav (Tel Aviv/Potsdam): On Language as such and the Language of Eve: Benjamin’s Interpretation of Genesis 2-3 Reconsidered Theo Machado Fellows (Manaus): Die Hoffnung und das Ausdruckslose: Die paradoxale Erscheinung des Göttlichen Christopher Johnson (Tempe, Arizona): ‚Ursprung‘ and ‚Umschwung‘: Benjamin’s Critical Paradigm 17:30  Ausgang/Final remarks Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Boltzmannstraße 22, 14195 Berlin, Germany Zoom/Online Meeting Platform Maria Teresa CostaPola Groß (Leibniz-Zentrum für Literatur- und Kulturforschnug, Berlin)Ursula Marx (Akademie der Künste, Berlin)Daniel Weidner (Universität Halle) Maria Teresa CostaPola Groß (Leibniz-Zentrum für Literatur- und Kulturforschnug, Berlin)Ursula Marx (Akademie der Künste, Berlin)Daniel Weidner (Universität Halle) Europe/Berlin public