All About the Benjamin

June 3rd, 2006 by john

In his deeply strange and unsettlingly provocative new book, 2012: The Return of Quetzalcoatl, Daniel Pinchbeck quotes Walter Benjamin on the sad decline of storytelling:

The loss of the art of storytelling corresponds to a change in our experience of time. “The value of information does not survive the moment in which it was new. It lives only at that moment; it has to surrender to it and explain itself to it without losing any time,” Benjamin wrote [in "The Storytellers," which you can find in the collection Illuminations]. “A story is different. It does not expend itself. It preserves and concentrates its strength and is capable of releasing it even after a long time.” He compared stories to those “seeds of grain which have lain for centuries in the chambers of the pyramids shut up air-tight and have retained their germinative power to this day.” Information, on the other hand, is always accompanied by explanation–”no event any longer comes to us without being shot through with explanation. In other words, by now almost nothing that happens benefits storytelling; almost everything benefits information.” It is almost our tragic fate as modern people to long for meaning and receive only explanation.

SMITH, with all due respect, is here to prove him wrong.

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