I was thinking tonight in class that Walter Benjamin‘s “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” was a nice, simplistic way of grounding Derrida‘s repetitive abstractions in Of Grammatology. My professor was a little underwhelmed at the idea of simplifying things, and wanted to talk about Paradise Lost instead, but…the impossibility of an original piece of artwork having its aura of originality without the existence of its lithographs is a really concrete example of the endless reciprocity of the relationship between signifier and signified.
It’s so simple. This my problem with Derrida. His concepts are all so logical and intuitive that it seems like they should’ve gone unsaid (and the man said a good deal about these things). Maybe his legacy on the academic consciousness has rendered reading him virtually unnecessary. Maybe Nietzche said it all a heck of a lot more elegantly.
But the Benjamin essay is a little easier to have fun with. I haven’t read it in a few years, but I have to wonder what some media studies Ph.D. candidates might dreaming up by combining Benjamin with internet memes. Links to a blog post on other blogs are signifiers that add a similar aura of the original to the post to which they link, yes?