Book Chapters

The Carousel Event

Walter Benjamin, 1928, One-Way Street

Walter Benjamin, 1928, One-Way Street


What I will argue is that Benjamin’s carousel is a two-fold event: First, it points to the ‘goings-on’ of capital. I will engage with Marx’s writings to show how capitalist social organisation eternally returns to itself and thus creates what Benjamin calls the dream-like phantasmagoria of modernity. This phantasmagoria is an event of speed as repetition. Second, in an affirmative reading, I will argue that the carousel event presents possibilities for a political event of decision: in the moment of the simultaneity of speed and stillness history presents itself as an image, which enables carousel passengers to see time differently. The carousel event is thus a dialectical moment that points to both the eternal return of the ever-same and the transcendence of the same by the different.

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