Like ultraviolet rays memory shows to each man in the book of life a script that invisibly and prophetically glosses the text.

— Walter Benjamin

The most interesting Walter Benjamin quotes that are proven to give you inner joy

To be happy is to be able to become aware of oneself without fright.


Separation penetrates the disappearing person like a pigment and steeps him in gentle radiance.


Of all the ways of acquiring books, writing them oneself is regarded as the most praiseworthy method.


Work on good prose has three steps: a musical stage when it is composed, an architectonic one when it is built, and a textile one when it is woven.


Quotations in my work are like wayside robbers who leap out armed and relieve the stroller of his conviction.


Reminiscences, even extensive ones, do not always amount to an autobiography.

For autobiography has to do with time, with sequence and what makes up the continuous flow of life. Here, I am talking of a space, of moments and discontinuities. For even if months and years appear here, it is in the form they have at the moment of commemoration.


Bourgeois existence is the regime of private affairs .

. . and the family is the rotten, dismal edifice in whose closets and crannies the most ignominious instincts are deposited. Mundane life proclaims the total subjugation of eroticism to privacy.


There is no document of civilization which is not at the same time a document of barbarism.


The concept of progress must be grounded in the idea of catastrophe.

That things are 'status quo' is the catastrophe


The camera introduces us to unconscious optics as does psychoanalysis to unconscious impulses.


All human knowledge takes the form of interpretation.


Nothing is poorer than a truth expressed as it was thought.

Committed to writing in such cases, it is not even a bad photograph. Truth wants to be startled abruptly, at one stroke, from her self-immersion, whether by uproar, music or cries for help.


About Walter Benjamin

Quotes 143 sayings
Nationality German
Profession Critic
Birthday October 16

Even the most perfect reproduction of a work of art is lacking in one element: its presence in time and space, its unique existence at the place where it happens to be.


Ideas are to objects as constellations are to stars [translated from Trauerspiel, 1928].


He who seeks to approach his own buried past must conduct himself like a man digging... This confers the tone and bearing of genuine reminiscences. He must not be afraid to return again and again to the same matter; to scatter it as one scatters earth, to turn it over as one turns over soil.


Genuine polemics approach a book as lovingly as a cannibal spices a baby.


During long periods of history, the mode of human sense perception changes with humanity’s entire mode of existence. The manner in which human sense perception is organized, the medium in which it is accomplished, is determined not only by nature but by historical circumstances as well


Only he who can view his own past as an abortion sprung from compulsion and need can use it to full advantage in the present. For what one has lived is at best comparable to a beautiful statue which has had all its limbs knocked off in transit, and now yields nothing but the precious block out of which the image of one's future must be hewn.


Every monument of civilization is a monument of barbarism


Each morning the day lies like a fresh shirt on our bed;

this incomparably fine, incomparably tightly woven tissue of pure prediction fits us perfectly. The happiness of the next twenty-four hours depends on our ability, on waking, to pick it up.


Counsel woven into the fabric of real life is wisdom.


He who observes etiquette but objects to lying is like someone who dresses fashionably but wears no vest.


It is precisely the purpose of the public opinion generated by the press to make the public incapable of judging, to insinuate into it the attitude of someone irresponsible, uninformed.


The illiterate of the future will not be the man who cannot read the alphabet, but the one who cannot take a photograph.


Work on a good piece of writing proceeds on three levels: a musical one, where it is composed, an architectural one, where it is constructed, and finally a textile one, where it is woven.


Marx says that revolutions are the locomotives of world history.

But the situation may be quite different. Perhaps revolutions are not the train ride, but the human race grabbing for the emergency brake.


Books and harlots have their quarrels in public.


True translation is transparent: it does not obscure the original, does not stand in its light, but rather allows pure language, as if strengthened by its own medium, to shine even more fully on the original.


Writers are really people who write books not because they are poor, but because they are dissatisfied with the books which they could buy but do not like.


The art of the critic in a nutshell: to coin slogans without betraying ideas.

The slogans of an inadequate criticism peddle ideas to fashion.


The film is the first art form capable of demonstrating how matter plays tricks on man.


Every passion borders on the chaotic, but the collector's passion borders on the chaos of memories.


These are days when no one should rely unduly on his competence.

Strength lies in improvisation. All the decisive blows are struck left-handed.


Allegories are, in the realm of thought, what ruins are in the realm of things.


We do not always proclaim loudly the most important thing we have to say.

Nor do we always privately share it with those closest to us, our intimate friends, those who have been most devotedly ready to receive our confession.


Gifts must affect the receiver to the point of shock.


Any order is a balancing act of extreme precariousness.


Art teaches us to see into things. Folk art and kitsch allow us to see outward from within things.


In every case the storyteller is a man who has counsel for his readers.


To a book collector, you see, the true freedom of all books is somewhere on his shelves.


Those who do not learn how to decipher photographs will be the illiterate of the future.


All great works of literature either dissolve a genre or invent one.


The idea that happiness could have a share in beauty would be too much of a good thing.


Taking food alone tends to make one hard and coarse.

Those accustomed to it must lead a Spartan life if they are not to go downhill. Hermits have observed, if for only this reason, a frugal diet. For it is only in company that eating is done justice; food must be divided and distributed if it is to be well received.


Boredom is the dream bird that hatches the egg of experience.

A rustling in the leaves drives him away.


Ownership is the most intimate relationship that one can have to objects.

Not that they come alive in him; it is he who lives in them.


The adjustment of reality to the masses and of the masses to reality is a process of unlimited scope, as much for thinking as for perception.


Living substance conquers the frenzy of destruction only in the ecstasy of procreation.


The destructive character lives from the feeling, not that life is worth living, but that suicide is not worth the trouble.