Shocked Silences: Alfred Andersch, Walter Benjamin, Ludwig Wittgenstein

Marcus Bullock


In all his works, though especially in Die Kirschen der Freiheit, Alfred Andersch explores the difference between rhetorical power in the public and the private domain. In that early work, he describes how he retreated from the public sphere in order to generate a fragment of language that signals a moment of individual spontaneity, a momentary passage of freedom. In identifying the quality of such an instant and the form of expression that articulates it, he also generates the basis of a resistance to all the forms of discourse that endeavor to enthrall their speakers by inscribing them within an ultimate enclosure of meaning. That resistance applies initially, of course, to the depredations of political seduction, but its incisive critical line also exposes common weaknesses drawn on the horizon of rhetorical power in the otherwise so different, though equally attractive and impressive, intellectual achievements of Walter Benjamin and Ludwig Wittgenstein. (MB)

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