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Radio Benjamin:The Railway Disaster at Firth of Tay



The bridge at Firth of Tay marked a feat of mind over brawn, engineering over building, planning over improvisation. Here German philosopher and cultural critic Walter Benjamin explores old and new technologies such as steel construction, formerly relegated to Winter Gardens and Arcades, as the greatest industrial achievements of the 19th Century. After the Tay disaster, he leaves us thinking about the Eiffel Tower, years after its completion, a scaffolding really. This relic finally finds a purpose in the early part of the 20th Century, becoming the largest radio antenna in the world -- and old technology meets new media. 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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