Having spent decades now helping to bring the vast and varied writings of Walter Benjamin to readers of English, we’re very excited to be joining City Lights and others in spending this week considering Benjamin’s life and ideas. “Haunted Reflections: Walter Benjamin in San Francisco” aims to take Benjamin’s work as “a lens through which to observe the sweeping socio-political changes that have enwrapped both the Bay Area and the globe,” by engaging with Benjamin’s ideas via lectures, roundtables, installations, and film screenings.
Among many others, Haunted Reflections features the participation of Howard Eiland, Michael Jennings, and Lindsay Waters, our Executive Editor for the Humanities. Eiland and Jennings have been critical to our Benjamin project, which, as Waters shared with the City Lights blog, can be traced back to his graduate school exposure to Benjamin by Paul de Man and Hannah Arendt. Eiland and Jennings have most recently expanded our Benjamin offerings with the publication of Walter Benjamin: A Critical Life, the first full critical biography of Benjamin in any language. The pair adapted a brief introduction to Benjamin’s life and work from the book, which can be read in full online.
Haunted Reflections begins this evening at City Lights, with “Angel of History at the Gates of the West,” a “skeleton key” to Benjamin’s life and work, featuring Eiland, Jennings, and Waters, and moderated by Paul Yamazaki, chief book buyer at City Lights. The week’s events are presented by City Lights in conjunction with the Contemporary Jewish Museum, Goethe Institut San Francisco, the Program in Critical Theory at University of California Berkeley, The Mechanics’ Institute Library, the San Francisco Art Institute, and HUP.