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Radio Benjamin: Robber Bands in Old Germany



Gypsies, tramps, and thieves -- stories circulated by the townspeople, told here by German philosopher and cultural critic Walter Benjamin, in a radio piece broadcasted in its original in German for children, and re-read in English in this recording by artist Corey McCorkle. Covert histories continue with the evolution of thievery from the gypsies to the criminal dynasties of the robber-bands. These occupational villains formed to rival both kingdom and empire using a private language, Rotwelsh, from which codes of honor, oaths, and rituals were established on the margins of law-abiding society. The Court of Miracles is also described in this episode, where the blind regain their sight, the lame walk, and imbeciles...they suddenly show their cunning. Benjamin was an eclectic thinker, combining elements of German idealism, Romanticism, Western Marxism, and Jewish mysticism, he made enduring and influential contributions to aesthetic theory, literary criticism, and historical materialism. Walter Benjamin’s radio broadcasts (1929 - 1932) are a selection of children stories written and read by Benjamin during his colossal research project The Arcades Project, an allegorical look into the birth of modernity in 19th Century Paris. Though the series of broadcasts and the Arcades in general are decisively incomplete, the two enterprises echo one another in content, replete with provocative digressions, and unlikely connections (or "secret affinities").
 

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Radio Benjamin

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Walter Benjamin’s radio broadcasts (1929 - 1932) are a selection of children stories written and read by Benjamin during his colossal research project The Arcades Project, an allegorical look into the birth of modernity in 19th Century Paris. Though the series of broadcasts and the Arcades in general are decisively incomplete, the two enterprises echo one another in content, replete with provocative digressions, and unlikely connections (or "secret affinities"). The independent radical publishing house Verso Books has published a nuanced translation of Radio Benjamin, and Clocktower Radio is pleased to present the recorded version of the comprehensive project for the first time in English. Read by New York artist Corey McCorkle, the 29 extant transcriptions will also be annotated with linking principle themes explored in the Arcades Project with the wild variety of subjects Benjamin outlines in these 20 minute stories. The extended radio program is a priceless glimpse into the humor and methodology of one of the most important theorists of authenticity, progress, and the political implications of new media on the masses during the earlier part of the 20th Century.
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