Married life, gay life as a work of art, and eternal life: Towards a biopolitical reading of Benjamin. Toward a biopolitical reading of Benjamin

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Abstract

This article examines the motif of eternal life in Walter Benjamin's work. Whereas myth understands natality and sexuality as characterized by guilt and deserving of death, this article argues that Benjamin seeks to develop an alternative conception of life that is no longer caught up in guilt and thus no longer fated to die-this is the idea of eternal life. By offering a reading of Benjamin's essay on Goethe's Elective Affinities, the article maintains that for Benjamin the possibility of eternal life was always linked to a sexual politics that turns around the problematization of heterosexual, patriarchal conceptions of married life. The outlines of this sexual politics are then further traced in his later work on Baudelaire and compared with Foucault's reading of Baudelaire in the context of working out an idea of life as a work of art.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)309-335
Number of pages27
JournalPHILOSOPHY AND RHETORIC
Volume44
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2011

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