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Mobile Modernity: Germans, Jews, Trains by Todd Presner

By Todd Presner

Although the background of the German railway method is frequently linked to the transportation of Jews to hard work and loss of life camps, Todd Presner appears as a substitute to the crowning glory of the 1st German railway traces and their function in remapping the cultural geography and highbrow background of Germany's Jews. Treating the German railway as either an iconic image of modernity and a very important social, technological, and political strength, Presner advances a groundbreaking interpretation of the ways that mobility is inextricably associated with German and Jewish visions of modernity. relocating past the drained version of a failed German-Jewish discussion, Presner emphasizes the mutual entanglement of the very different types of German and Jewish and the numerous websites of touch and alternate that happened among German and Jewish thinkers.Turning to philosophy, literature, and the background of know-how, and drawing on transnational cultural and diaspora reviews, Presner charts the impression of elevated mobility on interactions among Germans and Jews. He considers such significant figures as Kafka, Heidegger, Arendt, Freud, Sebald, Hegel, and Heine, interpreting poetry subsequent to philosophy, structure subsequent to literature, and railway maps subsequent to cultural heritage. instead of a traditional, linear heritage that culminates within the tragedy of the Holocaust, Presner produces a cultural mapping that articulates a way more advanced tale of the hopes and catastrophes of cellular modernity. by way of concentrating on the areas of come across emblematically represented by way of the overdetermined triangulation of Germans, Jews, and trains, he introduces a brand new family tree for the research of ecu and German-Jewish modernity. (June 09)

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This is not simply a statement about the politics of memory but rather indicates something more fundamental about conceptualizing and historicizing the relationship between German and Jewish. Not unlike Benjamin who drew upon the widest possible range of cultural ephemera to imagine the material history of modernity and thereby conceptualize his philosophical approach to constructing its history, I would like to look more carefully at the logic of present remains in order to think philosophy and poetry out of material history.

To the left, the foundations of guardhouses complete with their underground garages and workshops. 5 In both cases the haunt of the fascist past returns as a disruptive force in the present-day historical, political, and cultural landscapes of Germany. As Joffe alluded, no one could have speculated that this former Gestapo member would have confessed to his crimes when he did; similarly, no one openly knew that the land where the memorial for the Jewish victims of the Holocaust is being erected would be found, upon excavation, to be the final hiding place of Joseph Goebbels and numerous other high-ranking Nazi officials headquartered in Berlin.

For, in so doing, Joffe has to appeal to a linear temporal span that has elapsed—more than fifty years—to mark, suspend, and temporally “cage” a bygone epoch. The problem, as both the coming forward of the Gestapo guard and the discovery of Goebbel’s ruined bunker indicate, is that a disjuncture exists between this measured and elapsed segment of time (its distance as fifty plus years) and the spatial proximity, the intimate neighborliness of ruins, relics, ghosts, and living specters of the past in the urban space of the present.

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