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Barbarism and Its Discontents$
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Maria Boletsi

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780804782760

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: June 2013

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804782760.001.0001

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A Positive Barbarism?

A Positive Barbarism?

(p.108) 4 A Positive Barbarism?
Barbarism and Its Discontents
Stanford University Press

This chapter examines the notion of “positive barbarism” by focusing on Walter Benjamin's 1933 essay “Experience and Poverty” and juxtaposes this notion to other uses of “barbarism” in Benjamin's writings. In particular, it explores how Benjamin's positive barbarism breaks with the genealogy of barbarism and articulates a new concept without dissociating itself from the destruction and violence traditionally associated with barbarism. It highlights an apparent paradox in the essay: the development of technology has led to an “oppressive wealth of ideas” but also spawned a new poverty of experience at the same time. By focusing on details in the text, the chapter reveals the operations of barbarism not only as a philosophical concept but as a medial performance in general and as a textual performance in particular.

Keywords:   positive barbarism, Walter Benjamin, Experience and Poverty, barbarism, poverty of experience

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