Slogans for writers from Walter Benjamin

Doing a Google search — the offshoot of my reading something about Walter Benjamin in my RSS feed — I stumbled on something that’s apparently from his essay ‘One-Way Street’: ‘The Writer’s Technique in Thirteen Theses’ and ‘The Critic’s Technique in Thirteen Theses.’ There’s good advice here, and some real zingers. Witness:

From ‘The Writer’s Technique in Thirteen Theses’:

IV. Avoid haphazard writing materials. A pedantic adherence to certain papers, pens, inks is beneficial. No luxury, but an abundance of these utensils is indispensable.

V. Let no thought pass incognito, and keep your notebook as strictly as the authorities keep their register of aliens.

VII. Never stop writing because you have run out of ideas. Literary honour requires that one break off only at an appointed moment (a mealtime, a meeting) or at the end of the work.

VIII. Fill the lacunae of inspiration by tidily copying out what is already written. Intuition will awaken in the process.

X. Consider no work perfect over which you have not once sat from evening to broad daylight.

XI. Do not write the conclusion of a work in your familiar study. You would not find the necessary courage there.

From ‘The Critic’s Technique in Thirteen Theses’:

X. Genuine polemics approach a book as lovingly as a cannibal spices a baby.

XII. The art of the critic in a nutshell: to coin slogans without betraying ideas. The slogans of an inadequate criticism peddle ideas to fashion.

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