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An Atlas of Images of the Dark

Walter Benjamin vs Ernst Jünger

Gabriele Guerra    La Sapienza Università di Roma, Italia    



“In these times, when my imagination is preoccupied with the most unworthy problems between sunrise and sunset, I experience at night, more and more often, its emancipation in dreams, which nearly always have a political subject. I would really like to be in a position to tell you about them someday. They represent a pictorial atlas of secret history of National Socialism”. Walter Benjamin writes such words on March 3rd, 1934 to his friend Gershom Scholem. Benjamin at the end did not succeed to tell the story of the 1930s after the Nazi seizure of power through his images, even if the dimension of the dream is always present in his thinking. The reconstruction of such an idea seems legitimate, following the hint to the oneiric-unconscious representation of this “secret history”, which can be found in some writings Walter Benjamin's. In this sense the text “Cellar” in his One-Way-Street is to be discussed, in which he develops a reflection about friendship, psychological repression, and sacrificial symbolism. This text can be confronted with another dream's vision by Ernst Jünger in his The Adventurous Heart: in “The Cloister Church” he describes a sacrifice which can be understood as an allegory of its complicated relations to the Nazi. Discussing the images of these two texts I propose a reading of the presentation of this “Third Reich of Dreams” (so the title of a book of German-Jewish journalist Charlotte Beradt of 1966) in a metaphorical and literary sense, as a reflection on the different ways of political dream's visuality within the literary discourse.

Sept. 30, 2016
June 11, 2016
April 26, 2016

Keywords: National SocialismVisualityDreamSacrificial symbolism

Copyright: © 2016 Gabriele Guerra. This is an open-access work distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction is permitted, provided that the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. The license allows for commercial use. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.