He who observes etiquette but objects to lying is like someone who dresses fashionably but wears no vest.
— Walter Benjamin
The art of the critic in a nutshell: to coin slogans without betraying ideas. The slogans of an inadequate criticism peddle ideas to fashion.
Death is the sanction of everything the story-teller can tell. He has borrowed his authority from death.
The art of storytelling is reaching its end because the epic side of truth, wisdom, is dying out.
Opinions are a private matter. The public has an interest only in judgments.
Books and harlots have their quarrels in public.
The camera introduces us to unconscious optics as does psychoanalysis to unconscious impulses.
It is precisely the purpose of the public opinion generated by the press to make the public incapable of judging, to insinuate into it the attitude of someone irresponsible, uninformed.
Gifts must affect the receiver to the point of shock.
The idea that happiness could have a share in beauty would be too much of a good thing.
All human knowledge takes the form of interpretation.
The destructive character lives from the feeling, not that life is worth living, but that suicide is not worth the trouble.
Boredom is the dream bird that hatches the egg of experience. A rustling in the leaves drives him away.
Living substance conquers the frenzy of destruction only in the ecstasy of procreation.
It is only for the sake of those without hope that hope is given to us.
Opinions are to the vast apparatus of social existence what oil is to machines: one does not go up to a turbine and pour machine oil over it; one applies a little to hidden spindles and joints that one has to know.
Work on good prose has three steps: a musical stage when it is composed, an architectonic one when it is built, and a textile one when it is woven.
Genuine polemics approach a book as lovingly as a cannibal spices a baby.
Memory is not an instrument for exploring the past but its theatre. It is the medium of past experience, as the ground is the medium in which dead cities lie interred.
Counsel woven into the fabric of real life is wisdom.
All disgust is originally disgust at touching.
Quotations in my work are like wayside robbers who leap out armed and relieve the stroller of his conviction.
Every passion borders on the chaotic, but the collector's passion borders on the chaos of memories.
The construction of life is at present in the power of facts far more than convictions.
The only way of knowing a person is to love them without hope.
To be happy is to be able to become aware of oneself without fright.
The true picture of the past flits by. The past can be seized only as an image which flashes up at the instant when it can be recognized and is never seen again.
The adjustment of reality to the masses and of the masses to reality is a process of unlimited scope, as much for thinking as for perception.
Of all the ways of acquiring books, writing them oneself is regarded as the most praiseworthy method. Writers are really people who write books not because they are poor, but because they are dissatisfied with the books which they could buy but do not like.
The greater the decrease in the social significance of an art form, the sharper the distinction between criticism and enjoyment by the public. The conventional is uncritically enjoyed, and the truly new is criticized with aversion.