Walter Benjamin's Baudelaire Studies and the Aura

발터 벤야민의 보들레르 연구와 아우라

  • Received : 2017.07.15
  • Accepted : 2017.08.22
  • Published : 2017.08.31


Walter Benjamin's unique concept of the aura is mainly presented in his three essays, Little History of Photography(1931), The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction(1935-1939), and On Some Motifs in Baudelaire(1939), whereas the studies on this concept are principally conducted on the basis of the first two essays. But considering Benjamin elaborated the concept through Baudelaire studies, the aura needs to be reexamined on the axis of "On Some Motifs in Baudelaire". He approached Baudelaire studies in one of the essential items for The Arcades Project at first. These studies acquired a new prospect soon after he mapped out these studies for an independent book in 1938. His Baudelaire studies come to fruition in On Some Motifs in Baudelaire, written one year after The Paris of the Second Empire in Baudelaire(1938). For Benjamin, Baudelaire is not only a poet who sharply testified to the age of the decay of aura, but also the one who elaborated new poetic motifs such as the metropolis, the crowd: the poet searched for his poems in the crowd of the metropolis, by accepting as poetic nourishment all sorts of experiences of the impact of daily occurrunces in Paris. In On Some Motifs in Baudelaire, the aura is defined as the response of a gaze, that is, the capability to gaze on something. It is principally a poetic capacity to give the capability of opening the eyes to an animal, or even to an inanimate object. If a gaze is responded by the other for which the gaze is placed upon, we experience the other's own aura. The media of the mechanical reproduction (such as the photography, the film) give rise to the decay of aura, because the expectation of returning one's gaze becomes frustrated from the outset.