Of Theory, Aesthetics, and Politics

Configuring the Messianic in Early Twentieth-Century Europe

Authors

  • Lisa Marie Anderson Hunter College

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.1558/post.v3i2/3.3.223

Keywords:

Messianism, Expressionism, Fascism

Abstract

This essay examines the messianic desire that impacted the cultural products of German-speaking Europe so strongly during the 1910s and 1920s. It then problematizes that desire by arguing that a famous 1930s debate, ostensibly about the political aesthetic of those previous decades, actually had as its central nerve the configurations of the messianic seen there. In juxtaposing two fundamentally disparate ways of the thinking the messianic (in contemporary theory as well as in the art and literature of a distinct period), I aim to interrogate the dialectical and aporetic structures inherent in messianism, as well as the consequences of secular co-optations of Jewish and Christian models.

Author Biography

Lisa Marie Anderson, Hunter College

Assistant Professor of German

References

Adorno, Theodor W. 1970–80. Gesammelte Schriften, ed. Rolf Tiedemann, 20 vols. Frankfurt: Suhrkamp.

Benjamin, Walter. 1974–87. Gesammelte Schriften, ed. Rolf Tiedemann and Hermann Schweppenhäuser, 7 vols. Frankfurt: Suhrkamp.

———. 2003. Selected Writings, ed. Michael W. Jennings, 4 vols. Cambridge, MA: Belknap/Harvard University Press.

Bloch, Ernst. 1964. Geist der Utopie. Bearbeitete Neuau_age der zweiten Fassung von 1923. Frankfurt: Suhrkamp.

———. 2007. “Discussing Expressionism.” In Aesthetics and Politics, trans. Rodney Livingstone, 16-27. London: Verso.

Blunck, Richard. 1921. Der Impuls des Expressionismus. Hamburg: A. Harms.

Cristaudo, Wayne, and Wendy Baker, eds. 2006. Messianism, Apocalypse, Redemption: 20th-Century German Thought. Hindmarsh: Australian Theological Forum.

Crombez, Thomas, and Katrien Vloeberghs, eds. 2007. On the Outlook: Figures of the Messianic. Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Press.

Derrida, Jacques. 1994. Specters of Marx. The State of the Debt, the Work of Mourning, and the New International, trans. Peggy Kamuf. New York: Routledge.

———. 1996. “Faith and Knowledge: The Two Sources of ‘Religion’ at the Limits of Reason Alone.” In Religion, trans. Samuel Weber, 1-78. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

———. 2008. “Marx & Sons.” In Sprinker 2008, 213-69.

Freud, Sigmund. 1955. The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works, ed. James Strachey. 24 vols. London: Hogart.

Gilman, Sander L., and Jack Zipes, eds. 1997. Yale Companion to Jewish Writing and Thought in German Culture 1096–1996. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Gray, John. 2007. Black Mass: Apocalyptic Religion and the Death of Utopia. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux.

Hamacher, Werner. 2008. “Lingua Amissa: The Messianism of Commodity-Language and Derrida’s Specters of Marx,” trans. Kelly Barry. In Sprinker 2008, 168-212.

Hiller, Kurt. 1919. “Überlegungen zur Eschatologie und Methodologie des Aktivismus.” Das Ziel. Jahrbücher für geistige Politik 3: 195-217.

Jameson, Fredric. 2008. “Marx’s Purloined Letter.” In Sprinker 2008, 26-67.

Kaiser, Georg. 1971. Werke, ed. Walther Huder, 6 vols. Frankfurt: Propyläen.

Kandinsky, Wassily. 1959. Über das Geistige in der Kunst, 6th ed. Bern: Benteli-Verlag.

Leonhard, Rudolf. 1976. “Literarischer Aktivismus.” In Theorie des Expressionismus, ed. O. F. Best, 135-39. Stuttgart: Reclam.

Lilla, Mark. 2007. The Stillborn God: Religion, Politics, and the Modern West. New York: Knopf.

Liska, Vivian, Bernd Witte, and Karl Solibakke, eds. 2008. Messianism and Politics: Kabbalah, Benjamin, Agamben. Würzburg: Königshausen & Neumann.

Löwy, Michael. 1997. “Ernst Bloch and George Lukács Meet in Heidelberg.” In Gilman and Zipes 1997, 287-92.

Lukács, Georg. 1977. “Bolshevism as a Moral Problem,” trans. Judith Marcus-Tar. Social Research 44: 416-24.

———. 1980. “Expressionism: Its Signi_cance and Decline,” trans. David Fernbach. In Essays on Realism, ed. Rodney Livingstone, 76-113. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

———. 1985. Dostojewski. Notizen und Entwürfe, ed. J. C. Nyíri. Budapest: Akadémiai Kiadó.

———. 2007. “Realism in the Balance.” In Aesthetics and Politics, trans. Rodney Livingstone, 28-59. New York: Verso.

Pinthus, Kurt, ed. 1959. Menschheitsdämmerung. Ein Dokument des Expressionismus. Hamburg: Rowohlt.

Rubiner, Ludwig. 1969. “Die Änderung der Welt.” In Der Aktivismus 1915–1920, ed. W. Rothe, 54-72. Munich: dtv.

Rumold, Rainer. 2002. The Janus Face of the German Avant-Garde: From Expressionism toward Postmodernism. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press.

Samuel, Richard, and R. Hinton Thomas. 1971. Expressionism in German Life, Literature and the Theatre. Philadelphia: Albert Saifer.

Sprinker, Michael, ed. 2008. Ghostly Demarcations: A Symposium on Jacques Derrida’s Specters of Marx. London: Verso.

Steinberg, Michael P. 1997. “Walter Benjamin Writes the Essays ‘Critique of Violence’ and ‘The Task of the Translator’.” In Gilman and Zipes 1997, 401-11.

Toller, Ernst. 1978. Gesammelte Werke, ed. John M. Spalek and Wolfgang Frühwald, 5 vols. Munich: Carl Hanser Verlag.

Weber, Max. 1992. Gesamtausgabe, vol. 1:17, ed. Horst Baier et al. Tübingen: J. C. B. Mohr.

Wolin, Richard. 1982. Walter Benjamin: An Aesthetic of Redemption. New York: Columbia University Press.

Zehder, Hugo. 1919. “Zeit, Theater und Dichter.” Die neue Schaubühne 1: 1-3.

Published

2010-02-26

How to Cite

Anderson, L. M. (2010). Of Theory, Aesthetics, and Politics: Configuring the Messianic in Early Twentieth-Century Europe. Postscripts: The Journal of Sacred Texts, Cultural Histories, and Contemporary Contexts, 3(2-3), 223–237. https://doi.org/10.1558/post.v3i2/3.3.223

Issue

Section

Articles