Apart from being a thinker whose sensibility - which can in no way be construed as ideological - has changed my life, Benjamin should be enrolled among James' angels. He was a victim of totalitarianism, killing himself in the Pyrenees when it seemed he wouldn't be able to escape the Reich. But because Benjamin practiced a syncretic version of Marxism, and would become popular, posthumously, with leftist academics, James can't let him die with dignity.I am tempted to respond further but Praxis blog is more comprehensive than ever I could hope to be. It also reveals James' thoughts on Paul Celan's poetry: apparently he says it is "marred by its difficulty – a difficulty produced by Celan's need to find a refuge from harsh reality." Can there be a more insensitive reading? But James doesn't stop there: "Number me among the almonds Celan says. James responds: At the time I noted this instruction down, I couldn’t resist the unwritten addition: And call me a nut."
I shall have to resist writing anymore as I have two new year resolutions ready: one is to write fewer fire-fighting or abusive blogs and the other is to read as many of the four volumes of Benjamin's Selected Writings as possible. The latter should encourage the former.
PS: As I chatted about Charleston on the train, the cultural equilibrium was maintained when Geoffrey of Rainbow walked up the aisle. I'm not sure Clive would approve: George is obviously a pinko.