Many years ago, a friend of mine went to Europe to play, and when she came back, she showed me a video she shot, which is the work of the Israeli sculptor Danny Karawan, on the seaside of Bultevo in Spain, like a slide, along the hillside. Down, there is a metal-enclosed corridor with a step-by-step staircase. Going down to the end is a glass curtain wall. Through the glass, you can see the sea. She told me that, in September 1940, Benjamin fled to the Port of Boulevard, where he committed suicide. The video of her was stuck on the sea outside the glass wall, so I looked a little cornered.
Later, I learned that Karawan’s works are generally monuments. The Holocaust Memorial Museum in Israel was designed by Karawan. He designed many commemorative works related to Jews all over the world. This “Benjamin Memorial Sculpture” was completed in 1994 and is called “Aisle” or “Corridor”. The piece has an inscription that reads “It’s harder to remember those who are not famous than those who are famous.”
An era always makes its mark on those who are least affected by it, who are furthest away from it, and who suffer the most.
I still know a thing or two about Benjamin. You know that there is a one-way street bookstore in Beijing. It first opened on the edge of Yuanmingyuan. There is a very beautiful yard with walnut trees and reclining chairs. I remember that the bookstore was very narrow and there was a portrait of Benjamin on the wall (the memory is not necessarily accurate), but “One Way Street” is the name of a book by Benjamin, and naming the bookstore with this name will definitely remind people of Benjamin . I have also read some of his books, but I don’t quite understand them, but some sentences are very impressive after reading them, such as, “We hand over the heritage of mankind piece by piece, often only at the price of one percent. Bet on the pawnshop, just in exchange for the small copper plate of reality.”
The Sanlian Bookstore published a “Benyaming Collection” a long time ago, called “Enlightenment”. The editor of the original book was Hannah Arendt. Hannah Arendt wrote a long preface, in which there was such a sentence , “History is like a runway. Some competitors run too fast and disappear from the sight of the audience.” Arendt said that an era will always be affected by it the least, farthest away from it, and therefore suffer the most. Branded, Proust, Kafka, Benjamin are all such people. To understand simply, there are always people who adapt to the times, like a fish in water, and people will pay attention to the trend-setters of these times, but some unlucky people know that they cannot adapt to the times, and this type of person has no ability to change their predicament, even if the predicament crushes him, There is nothing they can do.
Although I don’t understand Benjamin’s article very well, I like this unfortunate thing, Benjamin himself said, “Being a useful person will always be an ugly thing for me”. So what does he want to do? Think poetically, think about things. Many young people in literature and art do not want to be a useful person to society, and they just want to think about it. However, “thinking” is not easy, and living a spiritual life is not easy.
Benjamin was definitely a loser, he got a Ph.D. and wanted to be a professor, but the professors at the university couldn’t read what he was writing. He was born in a wealthy family, married and had children. He was still in his thirties, unable to support himself, and lived on his wife’s wages for a lot of time. At the age of 20, he caught up with World War I, at the age of 30, he caught up with the inflation of the Weimar Republic, and at the age of 40, he caught up with the Nazis who came to power. By the outbreak of World War II, he could not bear it anymore. He has been earning a little money by writing articles. He has no fixed place to live. He published not many works before his death. He has a grand research plan, but he has not been able to complete it. He wants to live a pure spiritual life. He always has portraits of saints posted at home. He seems to be living by his brain, but he can’t control his desires.
Benjamin was born in a wealthy family. If he was in the Heian period, he thought about things every day, which is also a good way of life. At most, it was a conflict with his father, but he was born in a turbulent year, and the feeling of being out of step with the times was even stronger. Benjamin’s adult life was a little clumsy. He had the opportunity to live a stable intellectual life, and he had the opportunity to escape to Israel or the United States earlier, but he just clumsily dragged on until the last moment. This image of a frustrated person and an outsider is actually very popular among literary and artistic youths. A romantic is someone who likes things that look like they’re going to fail.