Time of the Magicians by Wolfram Eilenberger

Time of the Magicians by Wolfram Eilenberger

Author:Wolfram Eilenberger [Eilenberger, Wolfram]
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Published: 2020-08-18T00:00:00+00:00


FOR BENJAMIN, the specific grief that, with the origin of modernity, increasingly overshadows and mutes the whole of being-in-the-world affects not only those human beings who see themselves as judging subjects. It affects also the supposedly mute objects of so-called nature, which humans believe they can dispose of as freely and capriciously as they do the arbitrary signs with which they name the objects. But for Benjamin nature is not fundamentally mute. Rather, in the age “after the fall” it has been increasingly silenced. But it has been silenced only for us.

In the “true language” nature speaks to us as we speak to it. Neither side gives meaning to the other; instead meaning produces itself.

The distorted conditions of knowledge in the modern age produce between the two poles of this reciprocal listening (nature and human) a mutually accentuated loss of resonance. The total loss of meaning and language that results (“Nothing speaks to me anymore”) is something Benjamin calls, appropriately, grief:

Yet the sadness of nature makes her mute. In all mourning there is the deepest inclination to speechlessness, which is infinitely more than the inability or disinclination to communicate. . . . In the language of men, however, [the things of nature] are overnamed. . . . [Overnaming is] the deepest linguistic reason for all melancholy and (from the point of view of the thing) for all deliberate muteness.16


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