Massimo Palma

There is a sentence in Walter Benjamin’s The Work of Art in the Age of its Technical Reproduction, which claims that in our age “everybody has the right to be filmed”.

Surely Benjamin didn’t support a Warholian-perspective in which everyone longs for a fifteen-minute celebrity, to vanish into nothing immediately afterwards. But what did he mean, indeed?

This talk intends to go deep into Benjamin’s thought of technique in the 30s. Not only The Work of Art, then, but also his Baudelaire’s studies. Combining his view of the crowd with his conception of technique (which is ambiguous and two-folded in the Dritte Fassung of the Work of Art), a peculiar way emerges, in which contemporary mass media issues reflect their XIX century roots in the metropolis where the flâneur feels at one with commodities, feeling himself as a good to be sold. What does the distinction between two different techniques means? Why would the latter be ‘political’ in a positive sense?

Benjamin’s answer to these questions points at a contradictory, though fascinating path towards emancipation.

Massimo Palma (Rome 1978) took his degree in Philosophy at the University of Rome “La Sapienza”. He discussed his P.h.D. dissertation in 2005 at Naples’ European School of Advanced Studies. His scientific activity focuses on Twentieth Century political thought, both German and French. He is collaborating with the University of Naples “Suor Orsola Benincasa” since 2005, where he has been given scholarship in Philosophy of Law. He published books on Walter Benjamin (Benjamin and Niobe. Genealogy of ‘bare life’, 2008), Eric Weil (Study on Eric Weil, 2008), Alexandre Kojève (Politics and Right in Kojève, 2012). He is the editor of the historical-critical edition (Donzelli, Rome) of Max Weber’s Economy and Society (The City, 2003; Communities, 2005; Religious Communities, 2006, Domination, 2012). He has edited Walter Benjamin’s Political Writings (Rome, 2011) and Georges Bataille’s Hegelian Writings (Turin 2014).

The lecture is organized by the Group for Social Engagement Studies, IPST.