THE WALTER BENJAMIN RESEARCH SYNDICATE: CYBER-REQUIEM FOR A SITE

Cyber-requiems can be poignant occasions, and I am indeed sad to have to draw the curtains on the Walter Benjamin Research Syndicate site, defunct as from August 2016, to which I had been a contributor since 2002 (indeed at one point I even functioned as its co-editor).

WBRS was founded by Scott Thompson from California. It had the distinction of hosting intellectually advanced and challenging writing on or related to the philosophy of Walter Benjamin, yet having no direct links to the academic world.

Despite (or because of?) this independence, WBRS proved a highly successful site, at its peak even frequently (in those pre-Wikipedia days) heading search results in Google for the philosopher’s work.  The texts it hosted were much quoted and cited by Benjamin scholars.

I add that my own article on Benjamin’s ‘Arcades Project’, which featured on WBRS for years as my most important contribution, is now rehoused:

  • Christopher Rollason, ‘The Passageways of Paris: Walter Benjamin’s “Arcades Project” and Contemporary Cultural Debate in the West’, in Modern Criticism, ed. Christopher Rollason and Rajeshwar Mittapalli, New Delhi: Atlantic Publishers and Distributors, 2002, pp. 262-296; rev. version, 2002, at: http://yatrarollason.info/files/BenjaminPassagesYatraversion.pdf

However, the fact that this my own text remains on-line does not affect the enormous loss represented by the disappearance of WBRS, a place in cyberspace which encapsulated the best of the fearless and independent tradition of intellectual inquiry of which Walter Benjamin is and will always be an icon.

WBRS has gone and can hardly be replaced – but the internet by its nature is in constant evolution, and my deep wish today is that other sites illumined with the same spirit will rise phoenix-like, to keep the flame of true critical inquiry burning in these our difficult times!

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