The Conduct of Contemplation and the Gestural Ethics of Interpretation in Walter Benjamin’s "Epistemo-Critical Prologue"
Keywords:Benjamin, Agamben, gesture
This essay is a close reading of the “Epistemo-Critical Prologue” of Walter Benjamin’s The Origin of German Tragic Drama as a methodological proposal. A comparative reading of the English translation with the German original reveals a sustained reflection on the gestural rhythm of interpretation that the translation obscures. The question of interpretation is an ethical question for Benjamin and for this reason the essay argues against Giorgio Agamben’s idea of gesture as “the communication of communicability,” an idea derived from a reading of Benjamin’s “Critique of Violence.” Hence, the larger issue at stake is how the interpretive gesture is to be defined with respect to violence and what role spatialization and choreography play in the Trauerspiel book’s chapters as extensions of the halting or intermittent gesture of the Prologue in a secularized vision of history.
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