The lost book has been found, the last writings of Walter Benjamin! It is out: Charles Baudelaire: Un poeta lirica nell’ eta del capitalismo avanzato (in Italian and edited by Giorgio Agamben and others). I gasped as I read that it has been out since December 2012, (London Review of Books Vol 35, No 22 (21 November 2013), P 21-22).
I am even more shocked to read that the missing manuscript was found over 30 years ago, since Uncle Wally for many years was wont to whisper in my ear that it was in the black briefcase which he always carried with him. And there were plenty of other eye-witness reports who would swear an oath to say that was true, and that they saw him with it when he fled Paris and on his way to the Pyrenees. That was Susan Sontag’s view too as I have it from what she wrote, and the idea of the loss of his briefcase in which were contained his last written words in 1940 had entered into a kind of folklore of our imaginations that had added to the poignancy of his failed walk to freedom, and the desolation of his subsequent suicide on the border between France and Spain.
I am shocked with the cold water of disillusionment, and the awakening to the ‘now of knowability’, as Uncle Wally is wont to say .
The allegorical element of history does provide us with a necessary context (Theses on the Philosophy of History) and corrective – the hare drinking pauses to observe. But that hysteria over, another expands as I realize that there is no English translation, nor likely to be one soon (apart from the Italian version, the German edition is not now expected until 2016 at the earliest). I begin to calculate my years, and distantly consider how the delay to the ‘now of readability’ for the anglophone world of this last book may continue long past my own sell by/read by date.
So I die and I don’t die. Slowly re-awakening to life the hare resumes drinking from the “common pond”.
What is meant by the phrase “common pond”? One might say that the pond is no larger than a tea saucer or even less, sufficient to be scooped up and fill the palm of our left hand. Tradition, as Uncle Wally might have added if he were here at this moment, has it that we are extending the fingers of our hand in a gesture where simultaneously the index finger points towards a recollection of death, Momento Mori, the middle finger is reaching forward in vulnerability to meet with you in the strangeness of all our differences, the ring finger is for the recollection of our breath, and the last finger is for the recollection of our bodies, including the elements of earth, air, fire and water.
Here begins ducks and fishes and all creation. And it is equally right to say that we will not be here to see the end of this beginning.