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We begin to see how the foreign original, whose modes of intention contradict our own, poses a challenge for our language.Translators who pay close attention to this contradiction can use it to put their own language to the test, to push its limits, even to break it.
Basic Themes and Arguments Benjamin begins his essay by briefly distinguishing his categories from traditional aesthetic values, those of “creativity and genius, eternal value and mystery” (218).
In contrast, “Work of Art” relates these tendencies to bourgeois and fascist ideologies and to the conditions, inevitably generated out of capitalism itself, which provoke “revolutionary demands in the politics of art” (217-8).
The word-for-word rendering (which would test and even break the target language’s mode of intention, rendering the target text unreadable by the target audience) is “the arcade,” through which the original can be seen.
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What can Benjamin’s notion of translation reveal about the circulation of other media forms, such as TV?
In what ways do TV programs (to name one example) resemble books (or other word-based texts)?
Can we use these similarities to “translate” Benjamin to image-based texts?by Erik Larsen Introduction and Historical Information Despite its relative brevity, Walter Benjamin’s essay “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction,” continues to inspire significant scholarly attention as a major work in the history of modern aesthetic and political criticism.The essay is credited with developing an insightful interpretation of the role technological reproduction plays in shaping aesthetic experience; more specifically, Benjamin catalogues the significant effects of film and photography on the decline of autonomous aesthetic experience.Here the artwork’s use value was located in its central position within ritual and religious tradition (223-4).A statue or idol conveyed a sense of detached authority, or frightening magical power, which inhered in (and only in) that particular historical artifact.In what ways to TV programs (to name the same example) differ from books (or other word-based texts)?How do these differences complicate the questions Benjamin would ask about TV?(The better known version of Benjamin’s essay is “The Task of the Translator,” translated by Harry Zohn, although as Steven Rendall notes, that version contained inaccuracies.Given Benjamin’s central argument, it’s a weird case for Rendall to make.) Benjamin opens the essay with a provocative statement: “No poem is meant for the reader, no picture for the beholder, no symphony for the audience” (p. By this, he draws our attention away from the communicative function of art – the idea that art “means” something – and forces us to focus on the object itself.In “Brot” and “pain” the intended object is the same, but the mode of intention differs.It is because of their modes of intention that the two words signify something different to a German or a Frenchman, that they are not regarded as interchangeable, and in fact ultimately seek to exclude one another… 156-157) What he means by this, according to Paul de Man, is that when speakers designate something by linguistic means (or, in a larger sense, when they “intend” something by directing their attention toward it), they do so within a conceptual horizon that is shaped to a large degree by the language they speak.