It feels great to be positive about a reading again. I rather like and agree with most of Benjamin's assertions about mechanical reproductions of art and the inability to capture the original piece's sense of uniqueness and singular existence in time and space. There is a vast difference between looking at a copy of transition, for example, in PDF form and acutally holding the real thing during our photography sessions for the MJP. This poses some interesting questions regarding the notion of digital archiving of not just literary works, but all forms of art. Are we actually preserving the art, or just creating a simulacrum of it that lacks what inherently makes art itself special? I don't think Benjamin is necessarily saying that the loss of the aura is a bad thing, but one cannot deny he has a point.
Benjamin also initially uses film as an launching point for the conversation. However, in the case of film in particular, I wonder if there isn't a chance for the aura to still exist. In an episode of a podcast called Lore Reasons, Waypoint's Editor-in-Chief Austin Walker posits the idea that public exhibition of film, despite all films being theatrically screened are reproductions of an original reel (which itself was editied together making it a reproduction as well), potentially creates the sense of uniqueness and place that Benjamin attributes to the aura. I wonder how valid this assertion is, and if we can see any avenue for this sort of preservation with literary works (most of which are reproductions themselves, if mass produced).