Benjamin, Borges

Benjamin’s writing, ‘The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction’ explains how the concept of art has changed along with modernity. Originally, artifacts were made by man, but as technology has developed, the way of producing artifacts has changed. Printing, and photography were such examples of technology that made and copied artifacts in a massive and instant way. For this reason, the authenticity within artwork has lost its meaning, because the process of reproduction became independent on manual reproduction, and we can access to artifacts whenever we want, regardless of the existence of original. From this, he explains that the ‘aura’ of artifacts loses its influence on the artwork, because artifacts made independent on traditional sphere, and people can easily appreciate artistic works based on their own particular situation. Because of that, masses can easily access to art, overcoming uniqueness of the art work, and the concept of pure art (art for art sake) can be contradicted. The social implication of art would become more important in the age of mechanical reproduction. We are living in a society of mass culture, and reproduced cultural stuffs can be easily accessible to anyone else. In our daily life, we can appreciate art easily, and this could be possible due to technological development. Benjamin’s analysis on the relation of art and our lives seems convincing.

Jorge Louis Borges’ writing, ‘The Library of Babel’ describes a library which contains all kinds of knowledge with every languages and its knowledge is infinite. He also says that as the library has all kinds of knowledge, human would lose their certainty and even feel themselves as phantasmal. The desire of accumulating knowledge has been started for a long time. In the age of enlightenment, people tried to record all kinds of knowledge through dictionaries and encyclopedia, and they tried to build library of Babel suggested in the story. What Borges seems to suggest is that at his age, as the knowledge made by human has become so overpowering that human cannot resistant against it. This overwhelming influence of artifacts on reality has been discussed by critics like Baudrillard, but we can also think in different way in terms of knowledge. Although knowledge exists out there, still human has their own knowledge within themselves in their particular way, and this would not necessarily need material, or external medium outside from human subject. Characters who can remember without helps from the library depicted in drama Sherlock reminds me of such counter example of Borges’ human in the library.