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Protocols to the Experiments on Hashish, Opium and Mescaline 1927-1934: Translation and Commentary

[Translated by Scott J. Thompson, copyright March 25, 1997]

[German words and phrases appear in bold, rather than italics, which has proven too difficult to read in this format]

  • Protocol I. Hightlights of the First Hashish Impression [by Walter Benjamin: 18.Dec.1927]
  • Protocol II. Highlights of the Second Hashish Impression [by Walter Benjamin & Ernst Bloch:15.Jan. 1928]
  • Protocol III. Walter Benjamin: Protocol of the Hashish Experiment of 11 May 1928.
  • Protocol IV. Walter Benjamin: 29 September 1928. Saturday. Marseilles.
  • Protocol V. Walter Benjamin: Hashish Beginning of March 1930
  • Protocol VI. Walter Benjamin: On the Session of 7/8 June 1930
  • Protocol VII. Egon Wissing: Protocol to the Experiment of 7 March 1931.
  • Protocol VIII. Fritz Fränkel: Protocol of the Experiment of 12 April 1931 (Fragment.)
  • Protocol IX. Fritz Fränkel: Protocol of 18 April 1931.
  • Protocol X./ Crock Notes Walter Benjamin: 1932
  • Protocol XI. Fritz Fränkel: Protocol to the Mescaline Experiment of 22 May, 1934.
  • Protocol XII. Walter Benjamin: Undated Notes.

  • Protocol I: Highlights of the First Hashish Impression [by Walter Benjamin:] Written 18 December [1927]. 3:30 a.m.


    1. Apparitions hover (vignette-like) over my right shoulder. Chill in this shoulder. In this context: "I have the feeling that there are 4 in the room apart from myself." (Avoidance of the necessity to include myself.)

    2. Elucidation of the Potemkin anecdote[1] by the explanation, be it suggestion: to present to a person the mask of their own face (i.e., of the bearer's own face).

    3. Odd remarks about aetheric mask [Äthermaske], which would (obviously) have mouth, nose, etc.

    4. The co-ordinates through the apartment: cellar-floor/ horizontal line. Spacious horizontal expanse of the apartment. Music is coming from a suite of rooms. But perhaps the corridor [is] terrifying, too.

    5. Unlimited goodwill. Suspension of the compulsive anxiety complex. The beautiful "character" unfolds. All of those present become comically iridescent. At the same time one is pervaded by their aura.

    6. The comical is not only drawn out of faces but also out of situations. One searches out occasions for laughter. Perhaps it is for that reason that so much of what one sees presents itself as "arranged", as "test": so that one can laugh about it.

    7. Poetic evidence in the phonetic: for a while at one point, no sooner had I made an assertion than I'd have used the very word in answer to a question merely by the perception ( so to speak) of the length of time in the duration of sound in either of the words. I sense that as poetic evidence.

    8. Connection; distinction. Feeling of little wings growing in one's smile. Smiling and flapping as related. One has among other things the feeling of being distinguished because one fancies oneself in such a way that one really doesn't become too deeply involved in anything: however deeply one delves, one always moves on a threshold. Type of toe dance of reason.

    9. It is often striking how long the sentences one speaks are. This, too, connected with horizontal expansion and (to be sure) with laughter. The arcade phenomenon is also the long horizontal extension, perhaps combined with the line vanishing into the distant, fleeting, infinitesimal perspective. In such minuteness there would seem to be something linking the representation of the arcade with the laughter. (Compare Trauerspiel book: miniaturizing power of reflection). [2]

    10. In a moment of being lost in thought something quite ephemeral arises, like a kind of inclination to stylize [a few words here illegible] one's body by oneself.

    11. Aversion to information. Rudiments of a state of transport. Considerable sensitivity towards open doors, loud talk, music.

    12. Feeling of understanding Poe much better now. The entrance gates to a world of grotesques seem to open up. I simply prefer not to enter.

    13. Heating-oven becomes cat. Mention of the word 'ginger' in setting up the writing table and suddenly there is a fruitstand there, which I immediately recognize as the writing table. I recalled the 1001 Nights.

    14. Thought follows thought reluctantly and ponderously.

    15. The position which one occupies in the room is not held as firmly as usual. Thus it can suddenly happen --to me it transpired quite fleetingly --that the entire room appears to be full of people.

    16. The people with whom one is involved (particularly Joël and Fränkel) are very inclined to become somewhat transformed: I wouldn't say that they become alien nor do they remain familiar, but rather resemble something like foreigners.

    17. It seemed to me: pronounced aversion to discuss matters of practical life, future, dates, politics. The intellectual sphere is as spellbinding as is the sexual at times to persons possessed, who are absorbed in it.

    18. Afterwards with Hessel in the cafe. Departure from the spirit-world. Wave farewell.

    19. The mistrust towards food. A special and very accentuated instance of the feeling which a great many things occasion: "Surely you don't really mean to look that way!"

    20. When he spoke of 'ginger', H[essel]'s writing table was transformed for a second into a fruitstand.

    21. I associate the laughter with the extraordinary fluctuations of opinion. More precisely stated, it is, among other things, connected with the considerable sense of detachment. Furthermore, this insecurity which possibly increases to the point of affectation is to a certain extent an outward projection of the inner feeling of ticklishness.

    22. It is striking that the inhibiting factors which lie in superstition, etc.,and which are not easy to designate, are freely expressed rather impulsively without strong resistance.

    23. In an elegy of Schiller's it is called "The Butterfly's Doubting Wings" ["Des Schmetterlings zweifelnder Flügel''].[3] This in the connection of being exhilarated with the feeling of doubt.

    24. One traverses the same paths of thought as before. Only they seem strewn with roses.


    Return to Protocol Index

    Protocol II: Highlights of the Second Hashish Impression [by Walter Benjamin:] Written 15 January 1928. 3:30 p.m.


    The recollection is less vivid although the reverie [Versunkenheit] was of a diminished intensity compared to the first time. To be precise, I was not as lost in thought [versunken], but more profoundly inward. Also, the gloomy, strange, exotic passages of the rausch haunt the recollection more than the luminous ones.

    I recall a satanic phase. The red of the walls became the determining factor for me. My smile took on satanic features: although it assumed more the expression of satanic knowledge, satanic satisfaction, satanic repose than the satanic, destructive effect. The sense of those present in the room as being submerged intensified: the room became more velvety, more glowing, darker. I named it Delacroix.

    The second, quite intense observation was the game with the adjoining room. In general, one begins to play games with spaces. Beguilements of one's sense of direction arise. What's recognized in an alert state in the quite unpleasant displacement which is accidentally conjured when, traveling at night on the rear seat of a train, one imagines one's traveling on the front seat or the reverse, can be experienced as beguilement from the translation of motion into the static.

    The room disguises itself before our eyes, wraps itself up like an alluring creature in the costumes of the dispositions. I experience the feeling that not only the imperial coronation of Charlemagne, but the murder of Henry IV, the ratification of the Treaty of Verdun and the murder of Egmont were enacted in the next room. Things are only mannequins and even the great world-historical events are only costumes beneath which they exchange glances of assent with nothingness, with the base and the banal. They respond to the ambiguous winking of nirvana across the way. To resist becoming implicated in any way in such assent, then, is what accounts for the "satanic satisfaction" previously referred to. This is also the root of addiction, to immensely heighten the collusion with non-existence by intensifying the dosage. Perhaps it is no self-deception to say that in this state one develops an aversion towards the free, so-to-speak uranian atmosphere in which thoughts of the "outside" become almost agonizing. Unlike the first time, there is no longer the friendly, amiable lingering in the room out of pleasure in the situation for its own sake. Rather, a thick, self-woven, self-spun spiderweb in which world affairs hang strewn about like the corpses of insects sucked dry. Here, too, the rudiments of a hostile stance towards those present in the room take shape; fear that they will become a bother or could drag one down.

    Yet despite its depressive elements, this rausch has its cathartic outcome which, if not blissful like the last, nonetheless has its ingenious side which is not without its charm. Except that this comes to a peak as the effect wears off, which sets forth the context of depression more clearly. For this reason the increase of dosage could, under certain circumstances, play a part in the depressive character.

    Double structure of this depression: first fear and then indecision in related questions of practicality. This indecision has gained mastery: suddenly a coercive temptation is tracked down to a very concealed motive [Moment]. The possibility of yielding to it somewhat with the prospect of overcoming it is therefore attained.

    Hunger set as an oblique axis through the system of the rausch.

    The great hope, inclination, longing to approach the new, the untouched in the rausch can hardly be attained any longer in elated fluttering, rather in tired, self-absorbed, relaxed, idle, sluggish downhill mutation. In this descent, one still believes in developing a certain friendliness, a certain attractiveness [Attrativa] in order to carry friends along with one's dark-edged smile, half Lucifer, half Hermes traducens, no longer the spirit and human being of the last experience. Less human, more daimon and pathos in this rausch.

    The bad simultaneity of the need to be alone and the desire to stay together with others intensifies --a feeling which emerges in deeper fatigue, and which one would have indulged. One has the feeling of only being able to abandon oneself to this ambiguous winking of nirvana across the way entirely by oneself in the profoundest silence, and yet needs the presence of others as gently shifting relief figures on the pedestal of one's own throne.

    Hope as cushion which lies beneath one only just now taking effect.

    The first rausch made me familiar with the fickleness of doubt; the doubting lay within me myself as creative indifference. The second experiment, however, caused things to appear dubious.

    Tooth operation. Noteworthy memory shift. Even now I cannot free myself from the mental image, that the location had been on the left side.

    On the way home as well, when the latch on the bathroom door is hard to lock, the suspicion: experimental set-up.

    One hears the tuba mirans sonans, plants oneself in vain resistance against the tombstone.

    It is well-known that when one closes one's eyes and gently presses against them ornamental figures appear whose form we have no influence upon. The architectures and spatial constellations which one sees before one's eyes on hashish have something related to them in their origins. When they appear and what they appear as is, first of all, involuntary, so lightning quick and unannounced do they show themselves. Then when they are suddenly there, effortless imagination comes more consciously in order to take certain liberties with them.

    One may well say in general that the sensation of "outside", "outdoors" is connected to a certain feeling of aversion. One must, however, sharply distinguish between the "outside" and the still quite extended field of vision, which for the person in the hashish rausch has exactly the same relation to the outside that the stage has to the cold street for a theatergoer. Now and then, however, there is something between the intoxicated person and their field of vision which --to continue the metaphor-- is like a proscenium through which an entirely different air sweeps through the outside. The proximity of death formulated itself to me yesterday in the sentence: death lies between me and my rausch.

    The image of autonomic signaling [Selbstanschluss]: certain mental things of themselves have their say, like toothaches, which at other times are rather fierce. All sensations, mental ones especially, have a more intense gradient and seize the words from their lair.

    This "ambiguous winking of nirvana across the way" has certainly been nowhere as vivid as in Odilon Redon.

    The first difficult impairment which took place was the inability to make plans in advance. When we examine it closer it is astonishing that we are capable of making plans from one day to the next, i.e. beyond our usual daydreams. Very difficult to have the dreams (or the rausch) on hashish at one's disposal.

    Bloch wanted to gently touch my knee. I had already perceived this touch long before the sensation of it reached me: I perceive it as a highly unpleasant violation of my aura. To understand that one has to bear in mind that all movements appear to gain in intensity and methodicalness and that as such they become perceived as unpleasant.

    After-effect: perhaps a certain weakening of the will. But as the effect wears off exhilaration gains the upper hand. Does the recent tendency of my handwriting to incline upwards [aufwärtssteigende Schriftrichtung] (despite more frequent depressions) have anything to do with hashish?[4]

    Another after-effect: on my way home I secure the latch and when there is some difficulty in doing so my first (and immediately corrected) thought: experimental set-up?

    Although the first rausch stood morally high above the second, the climax of the intensity is indeed increasing. This is to be understood more or less in the following way: the first intoxication loosened and lured the things out of their customary world while the second rausch soon placed them in a new one extensively underlying this interstice.

    Concerning the continuous digressions in hashish. First of all, the inability to listen. However disproportionate this seems in relation to that boundless benevolence towards others, it is nonetheless actually rooted in it. Before one's [conversation] partner has barely opened his mouth, he disappoints us immensely. What he says lags endlessly far behind what we would so gladly have credited him with and believed him capable of had he remained silent. He disappoints us painfully in his unresponsive attitude towards that greatest object of all attention: ourselves.

    As for our own distracted, abrupt switch from the subject under discussion, the feeling that corresponds to the physical interruption of contact can be explained thus: we are endlessly allured with whatever we are directly engaged in discussing; we fondly stretch out our arms towards whatever we have a vague notion of. Barely have we touched it, however, than it disappoints us corporeally: the object of our attention withers away under the touch of language. It ages in years, our love has completely exhausted it in a single instant. Thus does it rest until it seems to become alluring enough to lead us back to it.

    To return to the colportage phenomenon of the room: the possibility of all things which have potentially taken place in this room is perceived simultaneously. The room winks at one: so, what may have happened to me? The connection of this phenomenon to the colportage. Colportage and caption. To visualize it thus: one pictures to oneself a kitschy chromolithograph on the wall with a longish strip carved out of the lower part of the frame. A ribbon runs along this lower part and now captions alternating with one another appear in the niche: "Murder of Egmont", "Imperial Coronation of Charlemagne" etc.

    In our experiment I repeatedly saw porticos with oriel windows and once said: I see Venice, but it looks like the upper part of the Kurfurstenstraße.

    "I feel weak" and "I know myself weak" --those are two radically different intentions. Perhaps the first one alone really carries the punch. But on hashish one can talk almost exclusively about the rule of the second and perhaps that explains why the facial expression is impoverished, despite the intensified "inner life". The difference between these two intentions is to be investigated.

    Further: function shift [Funktionsverschiebung]. I take this term from Joël. The following experience suggested it to me. During the satanic phase I was handed a book by Kafka. The title read Betrachtung [Meditation]. [5] But then all at once this book meant to me what a book in a poet's hands means to a somewhat academic sculptor who has to sculpt a statue of this poet. It was immediately dovetailed by myself into the sculptural construction of my person and was consequently subject to me in a much more brutal and absolute manner than could have been accomplished by the most withering critique.

    But there was still something else: namely, it was as if I were in flight from Kafka's spirit and now in the moment when he had touched me, I were metamorphisized into stone as Daphne was changed into ivy under Apollo's touch.

    Connection of the colportage-intention with the most profoundly theological. It reflects it opaquely, displacing to the space of contemplation what is intended only in the space of daily life. Namely: time and again the world is the same (that everything which has ever happened could have been enacted in the same room). In a theoretical sense, that is a tired, withered truth, despite all the insight concealed in it, which nonetheless finds its greatest confirmation in the existence of the devout, to whom, as here, the space of imagination serves as all that has been, and thus all things serve to the best. The theological is so deeply sunken in the realm of colportage that one may say: the profoundest truths, aspired to far away from the oppressive, animal truths of men, still possess the violent force capable of adapting themselves to the oppressive and the common, to even mirror themselves in their own way in irresponsible dreams.

    Ernst Bloch: Protocol of the Same Experiment


    I eat nothing. Energy of the silence remains. Energy from fasting is lost when one is sated.

    The rausch today compares to the previous one as Calvin to Shakespeare. This is a Calvinist rausch.

    Now I am in a state of indolent, sinking longing. It is always just such an ambiguous winking of nirvana across the way. Allegory of peace, arcadia rises oppressively to the surface. That is all that remained of Ariel. That's the purest measure of the relation between this rausch and the first.

    When even I, to whom things are going in a worldly way, going badly (depressed),sense this winking, then see what power it has. Yes, it is the smile. The smile is the veiled image of Sais. [6]

    It's now as if something had taken me by the hand to the sought after cleft in the rocks. But that too becomes just a rained-out rendezvous with the spirits. A rained-out Venice similar to the Kurfürstenstraße. But at the same time I enjoy this rain-laden humor; look down from the window with the pipe. I talk with intention of saying something florid; they must be suspicious.

    It is as if the words were suggested to one phonetically. There is automatic signaling [Selbstanschluß] here. Things have their say without asking for permission. That ascends into very high spheres. There is a silent password with which certain things now pass through the gate.

    The depressive mood nonetheless becomes more absorbing. Fear of it going away and being absorbed with it are simultaneous. Am only capable of retaining the emotional atmosphere of the depression, not its contents.

    Again a powerful feeling of being at sea. The phase-like = sea voyage, life in the cabin: it is perfectly clear, it is the world seen through glass. A web now fashions itself, everything joins forces with the black background as in bad engravings. Hashish interweaves the entire space.

    Pause (I take Kafka's Betrachtung [Meditation] as support). Benj[amin]:"That's the right support" --Myself: "You couldn't find one more refined." Benj[amin]: "None more well-informed".

    Stairway in the studio: a structure only fit for wax figures to inhabit.

    Thereupon I begin so much graphically. All of Piscator can pack up and go. Have the possibility of rearranging the entire lighting with tiny little lever. Can make out the London Opera from the Goethehaus. Can read all of history out of it. It appears to me in the room, and that's why I focus on the colportage images. Can see everything in the room; the sons of Richard III and whatever you please.

    In addition, things participate in my depression = devaluation of their matter. They become mannequins. Unattired dress-up puppets awaiting my intention, standing about naked, everything about them instructive like an anatomical model. No, it's this: they stand there without an aura. Through my smile. Through my smile all things stand under glass.

    Now a passage emerges between the easel and stairs through which the breath of death gently caresses. The death which is between me and the rausch. It forms a snow-covered path leading into the rausch beyond. This path is death.

    To Fränkel, who comes down the stairs: You have turned into a lady. You always wind up with a frock between your feet, like webs.

    When W[alter] B[enjamin] was urged: "No, I don't want anything. Even if you have to reprimand me in iambs [sich zu diesem Zweck Jamben vorbinden], I won't eat anything."

    At the end: step outside into a May evening from my castle in Parma. Walk so gently, so softly, the ground is silk.

    To me: (in parting) Stay identical for a while yet!

    Postscript: When Dr. Fränkel wanted to write something down: "Ah, now I'm coming into the palace gardens again, where my every step is recorded."

    Walter Benjamin: Bloch's Protocol to the Experiment of 14 January 1928


    The sequential order is loose [frei, free].

    [Trans. note--- Passages which repeat Bloch's protocol verbatim (see above) have not been included here.]

    Likewise to Fränkel: Now that you've stepped outside, the street intercedes on your behalf. You come back entirely transformed.

    At any moment now I'll be knocking on the ceiling which is terribly thin.

    In other words, an impetus to wakefulness.

    Fall down the steps again; fanciful [lustvoll]. It begins to get light outside.

    Now I luckily have everything but what the servant girls buy for 25 pfennigs in an Egyptian dreambook.

    Death as zone which surrounds the rausch.

    State of inner listlessness.

    Now I am not going through an African phase, but rather a Celtic one. It's getting progressively brighter.

    Given the opportunity to say what I had elaborated on earlier: "Now I am the schooled teacher".

    Something or other "spills over the depressive state" (the opposite of aufheben [7]: überspülen [to spill or wash over].

    Hence it can be seen precisely what one is lacking in order to be happy.

    That is the sad evidence. Indeed, it is quite comical. Dying has an entirely different imperative than it did the first time.

    Exhalations from the earth. Intermediate step. Illumination of the rausch.

    More chthonic. Saw a flight of steps leading down to us, so that we were to a certain extent sitting underground

    * * *

    Return to Protocol Index

    Protocol III: Walter Benjamin: Protocol of the Hashish Experiment of 11 May 1928


    V.P. [Versuchsperson, Test Subject] : Joël

    At [...] o'clock, Joël ingested [...] g [rams] of Cannabis ind[icae].

    J[oël] showed up at Benjamin's around 10:30. After having taken the dosage earlier, he had led a meeting in the House of Public Health [Gesundheitshaus] and had taken part in the discussion without any hindrance. As there was still no visible effect by 11 o'clock, the outcome of the experiment promised to be quite negligible. Though to himself he seems to have changed, this is not apparent to the observer. The conversation was initiated by B[enjamin]'s works, and turned of its own accord to questions of an erotic nature, viz. sexual-pathological documents (from the collection of Magnus Hirschfeld). Benjamin placed an album with explicit illustrations in front of the test subject. Effect: nil. The conversation remains purely scientific.

    However, curious mimetic anticipations, so-to-speak, occur to B[enjamin], who frequently loses the thread of the conversation, unlike J[oël], and offers a light when J[oël] reaches for a biscuit.

    After 11 o'clock, a call from Fränkel, who promises to come. This conversation strikes the observer as itself the triggering factor of the hashish rausch. First (moderate) attack of laughter on the telephone. After conversation ended, strong impression of the room, to which it should be noted: the telephone is not located in B[enjamin]'s room, but in the adjacent flat; to reach the room in question, one must pass through a third room. J[oël] wishes to remain in the room where he made the phone call, but is very unsure. He doesn't venture to rest against a pillow in the corner of the sofa but takes up a position in the middle of it.

    [His] power of observation had already intensified (relative to B[enjamin]'s more normal one, which is the only standard of comparison in this case) before passing through the middle room. This hallway is filled with framed specimens of handwriting. J[oël] at once discovers a chart which is discernible as having to do with a collection documenting the history of written characters. B[enjamin] has never noticed this chart. More astonishing yet, on the way back through this room: a violet-colored balloon is tied to the back of a chair. B[enjamin] doesn't see it at all. J[oël] is startled. The source of light in front of the balloon appears to J[oël] secretly as an ultraviolet lamp, which he calls "apparatus".

    With the transition to the new milieu in B[enjamin]'s room, there is at once a complete disorientation of the sense of time. The ten minutes which have elapsed since the telephone conversation seem to him like half an hour. The following period is characterized by a restless anticipation of Fränkel. The phases are outwardly recognizable by repeated deep breaths. Discussion of J[oël]'s formulation: "I've miscalculated the time." Other formulations: "My watch is running backwards," "I would like to stand in between the double-glazing [of the window pane]," "Fränkel could in fact be gradually about to appear now." Standing at the window, J[oël] sees two cyclists: "He cannot come by bicycle, to be sure. Let alone by twos!"

    Later on, a phase of deep absorption in thought of which but a few isolated details here can be retained. Divagation on the word "Kollege " [colleague]. Etymological considerations. B[enjamin] finds this quite remarkable, for he had quietly pondered over the etymology of this word eight hours earlier the same day. He attempts to communicate that to J[oël]. The latter sternly refuses: "I cannot stand these mediumistic [mediumistisch] conversations among intellectuals."

    Other formulations whose context I can no longer reconstruct: "Shall I in the meantime talk malthusianistically [malthusianistisch]?" "Every mother with 5 children can say that." (That can be said of every mother with 5 children?) ["Opponenz" "Alimentenz"] Divagation on "wild men" "symmetry of loutish men". (Related perhaps to the title like the one in the Vossische Zeitung) [8]. New divagations on an intermediate thing between Kaiser and Kautsky". (Aimed at B[enjamin]).

    "Always a house with lines in such a manner and candlestick shapes (deep sigh). Candlestick shapes immediately remind me of something sexual. Must be something sexual for the sake of appearances." The word "secretorium" [Sekretorium] arises in this context. As soon as I confirm a sentence of his, he perks up in a more lucid phase, to judge from his words. "I've just come up with the lift." Other reflections: "I only know that which is entirely formal...and not even that anymore." Or: "As I said that, I was the church." Or: "Now that was really something...Ach Gott, but of course those are impersonations of an inferior kind." Or: "One sees the gold nuggets lying there, but one can't lift them." [He] holds forth at length now on lifting and seeing as two totally different actions, as if he were making a discovery.

    When the opportunity arises, B[enjamin] is emboldened to remark that no solution to contact between himself and J[oël] has happened. J[oël] reacts in an extraordinarily vehement manner: solution to contact [Kontaktlösung] said to be a contradictio in adjecto. Then echolalia (perceiving [perzipierend]?): "Contact, out-tact, by tact, with tact in Spain"["Kontakt, Austakt, durch Takt, mit Takt in Spanien"]. This is a divagation from an earlier stage of the experiment. Other divagations: B[enjamin] lets drop the word "parallels", to which there is a reaction: "parallels intersect in infinity --surely one can see that."-- Then lively doubt, whether they intersect or not.

    Fragment: "...By means of this thing, which in fact should be a measure, or was, search me." Other deviations: "I don't believe it for a moment that you're attempting to make jokes. You're too unsure of yourself for that."

    After a period of time has elapsed I withdraw into the background of the room onto the couch next to Fränkel. J[oël] has a great liking for this arrangement. F[ränkel] is not well, he stands up, and I accompany him out. He is gone for a long time. In his absence: first J[oël] assumed that we were talking outside about experimental procedures. But he drops it. Hears a rattling. Associates this with the lighting of a candlestick. Believes that he saw how I guided Fränkel to the toilet with a candlestick. Hereupon immediately follow still fairly objective discussions. Gradual elucidaton.

    Supplementary entry from the deepest phase: a corner of my desk becomes for J[oël] a naval station, coaling-station, something situated between Wittenberg and Jüterbog.[9] "But all of it at the time of Waldersee." [10] After that, there was a very remarkable, beautifully poetic divagation about imagined schooldays in Myslowitz. Afternoon in the school, outside in the fields [and] sun,etc. Then he loses himself in other images: Berlin. "One must travel to the Orient to understand Ackerstraße."

    From the phase of anticipating Fränkel's arrival: "Now I'd like to sit on the window-sill." Afterwards a long divagation on the word "threaten" [drohen]. "Fränkel threatens to come". J[oël] himself also calls attention to another infantilism. On occasion he has the feeling that F[ränkel] will break a promise he has made, no matter which one. He is to have "shaken hands on it (as boys tend to do)." End of the experiment around 3 o'clock.

    Ernst Joël: Protocol to the Same Experiment


    Anticipating Fränkel:

    Having telephoned, one could expect F[ränkel] in about 20-30 minutes. We left the telephone room through the hallway with the development of handwriting. A child's blue balloon was fastened to the back of a chair at a table where a lamp stood. To me, the layout appeared instantly reversed to the extent that the balloon was in front of the lamp which shone through it, illuminating the room with a blue light, like a Solluxlampe [radiation lamp]. I gave the balloon the name "apparatus".

    Returning to B[enjamin]'s room, the tension of anticipation increases at times to an agonizing intensity. In this context there were considerable miscalculations of time so impressive that, for a moment, I believed my watch was running backwards. The other things (the double-glazing, the cyclist) are described in the protocol. [11] What's peculiar is the intensification which is implied first in the mention of the double-glazed window, then in [the mention of] the outer metal sill.

    Some kind of infantile features are at play with the metal sill. For example, it was clear to me that in this situation I would only take up a little space on the sill, i.e., that I was a small boy.

    At one time when I said "space" ["Raum"] for outer space [Weltenraum], I believed [myself] to say something new stylistically in so far as the semantic character of the thing were intensified by grammatical incoherence. I wondered whether Morgenstern, for example, would have had a much more powerful impact had he carried the grotesqueness of his Palmström [12] poems over into his cosmic poetry.

    No doubt, my formulations seemed too daring to me, for the most part, but nonetheless quite pertinent, and they disclosed to me some rare perspectives. My doubt, however, was apparent as an almost constant factor in my questions regarding the surroundings; whether my remarks stood up to objective criticism.



    I had the feeling of having to entertain F[ränkel] somewhat, and it's certainly no accident that I directed him to the various liqueurs which, for reasons of abstinence, were out of the question for me, personally, and which were irrelevant to my hunger. It's worth noting that I became so captivated by a bottle labeled as vodka that I wanted to test its authenticity, which I doubted. Since the Treaty of Versailles had forbidden the production of cognac in Germany, I believed that the Treaty of Rapallo had allowed the Russians to keep their vodka, and it gave me the greatest pleasure to see that the great conventions and treaties of the nations were essentially matters regarding the regulation of spirits. Contributing to this was the fact that, either this visit or the one before, Benjamin had given me some genuine Russian cigarettes.

    I sometimes had the feeling that I should mediate between B[enjamin] and F[ränkel], although I wasn't aware of any kind of conflict.


    The Medals:

    Fränkel gave me a shallow cardboard box half-filled with ginger. At the same time B[enjamin] handed me a little oval bowl with biscuits. I took both of them, feeling as if I were being paid tribute. Then both objects reminded me of medals, especially the bowl (which could be compared to to a large badge for the wounded-in-action). F[ränkel] and B[enjamin] seemed to me like prisoners, who voluntarily surrender their medals as souvenirs (as the English did when captured). The remarkable thing was that both of them lost their individuality at that moment and were only generic, so to speak, though their presence as such was extraordinarily clear. It was something humiliated, slavish.

    All of these things condensed into something like permanent realities.

    As in other experiments, there were, of course, moments of fleeting apparitions, but they were instantly divested of any semblance of reality, which did not in the least spoil their relative wealth and tremendous liveliness.


    The Church:

    At sometime or other all the food I had in my hands was taken away from me. Then I recalled that a package of biscuits was lying somewhat hidden to the right of my easy chair. I reached into it contentedly and in so doing experienced such a remarkable crisscross of emotions of martyrdom and well-being that I said: "Now I am the church." As soon as I had expressed that, I felt like a fat, priestly prebendary sitting in my easy-chair, but with an expression of great earnestness, almost sadness.


    The Coaling-station:

    A dish of cake was taken away from me. I thought that it would be put back on the projecting edge of the desk where B[enjamin] was sitting, but it was set down on the table out of my reach where F[ränkel] was sitting. The edge of the desk which I had hoped for as a suitable depot, my army's base so to speak, became for me a cape. The course which the dish had traversed from my hands to the cape and from the cape to the table lying in the dark like a dark continent was like the curve of steamship lines on the map of a great transoceanic shipping firm. An important strategic point, a coaling-station, had been taken away from me, and now I held forth on the importance of said coaling-station, fulminating with the politics of a little bourgeois schooled on local advertising. I was reminded of my classmate Thiele, who once loudly interrupted a lesson in school: "Where does the middle-class come in?". In the Anhalterstraße on the way home after school one day, he had said of some political personality, I think it was the President of Venezuela, that he should be made a head shorter, a kind of terminology which was new to me then, and which I had heard with a mixture of fascination and objection. The topographical distribution of stages of development became clear in this context, to the extent that I experienced the meaning of the coaling-station in a childhood milieu on the one hand, but then also as a conversation on a passenger train near Jüterbog. (Compare this to Myslowitz, where a shift back into the past either vies with or combines with geographical remoteness.)


    In Myslowitz:

    B[enjamin], who was sitting only about two steps away most of the time, looked very different in appearance during the experiment. For example, the form and fullness of his face changed. The cut of his hair, his eye-glasses made him first stern, then genial. During the experiment I knew that, objectively speaking, he couldn't change so quickly, but the impression at the time was so strong that it was considered the correct one.

    Once he was a Gymnasium student in a little eastern town. He had a handsome cultivated study. I asked myself: where has this young man acquired so much culture? What is his father's occupation? Draper or grain agent? At this moment he seemed inattentive to me and I bid him to recite. His attempt at recitation seemed very slow to me and I called him to account. At this moment I saw a summer afternoon in the little eastern town, very hot, the sun resting on the fields before the town; and afternoon in the Gymnasium --a sign of the small town or of the past: science lesson in the afternoon. Said the teacher: "So, please hurry up, we really do not have much time here." I had to laugh, for in fact this hot summer afternoon seemed predestined for nothing but time, and I could call to mind nothing that would seem to take precedence at either this hour or in Myslowitz, for that matter.

    I believe I then told further how the Gymnasium students imitate their teachers, exaggerating extravagantly with the German students' unassuming talent for caricature: "...I really don't have any time."


    Fränkel is led out by Benj[amin]

    When this happened I assumed that both of them were in the hallway or in the telephone room discussing the experiment. This became exaggerated at once: they were talking about me, my character in particular. Then I heard footsteps receding and a soft clinking. Now I saw how B[enjamin], holding a candlestick with a burning candle in his hand, accompanied F[ränkel], leading him to the door of a toilet and then handing him the candlestick.

    This representation of the scene was something completely without restraint and natural to me. If I'm not mistaken, I was automatically reminded that we are no longer living in the age of candlesticks. The interesting thing was that F[ränkel] in particular couldn't at all imagine that the scene had actually taken place 20 years earlier, just as I had seen it. [13] From this insufficiency of memory I most clearly saw the great effect of the hashish with regard to the recapturing of time. I saw before my eyes a little bracket holding a white candlestick inside the W.C. In well-kept households, matches would never be lacking, etc.

    While F[ränkel] was outside I had all kinds of peculiar fears and I asked B[enjamin] whether there were any cause for concern about him. This scene reminded me quite a bit of an intermezzo in Wiesbaden, where I had already been forced to consider transportation to the hospital and so on. (Compare this with the experiment in question). [14].


    Part and Opposite [Teil und Gegenteil]:

    In this rausch a prominent part was played by the to and fro of comprehension, the doubt between meaning and meaninglessness, the banal and the significant. I said that in ordinary life doubt is less defined, duller and more shadowy, whereas here part and opposite present themselves with equally sharp definition and vie with one another to the point of being painful. This became apparent to me in the image of the two sails on the Wannsee. It would be false to ask: which is the correct one. This image is worth noting because there is no contradiction between the two sails, and only the meaning which one attributes to each of them could constitute the contradiction. Seen in such a way from the distance, two enemy ships navigating towards one another without their flags hoisted could be taken as allies. In this image it becomes clear that the flag-character, the sign or insignia is actually what is significant here and this observation leads us to the following: that within the rausch emphasis is universally distributed, as is never the case otherwise. The externalization of the personality (spoken of in very general terms) makes one capable of an expansion of partisanship such as one would have to attribute to a divine being, or to an impartiality such as is characteristic of, say, an animal. If I am not mistaken, B[enjamin] spoke of an "agreement" [Vereinbarung], an expression which was quite evident to me.

    I further tried to show how that deeper kind of identification is attained through cunning. Namely, that by means of mistaken identities (possibly explained in the physiological terms of the senses, which are corrected at once), affinities and identities, the lasting reward of this error, establish a connection in a deeper sphere to which the error was a bridge. (I see just now from F[ränkel's protocol that B[enjamin] has spoken of "reconcilability" [Vereinbarkeit]. [15]

    In this context belongs the turn of phrase to which I attached great importance: "What you say is true, but I am right." Moreover, it was quite clear to me that this "is true" was no comfortable concession but rather a clear insight into the correctness of an adopted viewpoint, further emphasizing that the word "also" in the formulation: "You are right, but I am right also" immediately must make the entire sense questionable.


    On the Way Home:

    Nighttime around 3 a.m. on the way home. First dim light on the Hansa-shore. Strong, exceptionally blissful feeling of continuity: these shores further down and the Arno flowing between them. It is the same water only here it is called Spree.

    After the acute state of rausch, with its isolations and restrictions, it is possible that there is a sense of having a stronger bond with world and humankind. This is quite evident in the experiments of the Russians.

    Return to Protocol Index

    Protocol IV: Walter Benjamin: 29 September 1928. Saturday. Marseilles.


    After long hesitation, took hashish at 7 o'clock in the evening. During the day I had been in Aix. I am taking down notes of what possibly follows only to determine whether it will take effect, as my solitariness hardly allows for any other supervision. Next to me a small child is crying, who disturbs me. I think that three quarters of an hour have already elapsed. And yet it has actually been only half an hour. Thus... apart from a very mild absent-mindedness, nothing's happening. I lay upon the bed, read and smoked. All the while opposite me this glimpse of the ventre of Marseilles. (Now the images begin to take hold of me.) The street that I'd so often seen is like an incision cut by a knife.

    Certain pages in Stepppenwolf, which I read early this morning, were a final impetus to take hashish.

    I definitely feel the effects now. Essentially negative, in that reading and writing are difficult for me. A good three quarters of an hour has transpired. No, it seems that much just won't come.

    Just now the telegram from [Wilhelm] Speyer would have to come: "Work on novel finally given up" etc. It does one no good if, in spite of everything, disappointing news rains on the parade of the oncoming Rausch. But is it really only this sort? For a moment there was suspense as I thought, now [Marcel] Brion is coming up. I was intensely excited.

    (Postscript during dictation: Things happened in the following way:

    I lay upon the bed really with the absolute certainty that, in this city of hundreds of thousands, where only one person knew me, I would not be disturbed, when there was a knock at the door. That had never happened to me here at all. Nor did I make any move whatsoever to open it, but inquired about the matter without altering my position in the least. The valet: "Il y a un monsieur, qui voudrait vous parler." -- "Faites le monter."

    ["A gentleman wishes to speak to you." --"Let him come up."]. I stood leaning against the bedposts, my heart palpitating. Really, it would have been quite remarkable to see Brion show up now. "Le monsieur", however, was the dispatch courier.)

    The following written the next morning. Under thoroughly magnificent, mild after-effects which give me the lightheartedness not to pay strict attention to the sequence. Of course, Brion didn't come. I finally left the hotel, for it seemed to me that no effects were apparent or else they were so weak as to overrule the precaution of staying in my room. First station, the café at the corner of Cannebière and Cours Belsunce. Viewed from the harbor, the one on the right and not my usual one. Now what? Only that sure benevolence, the anticipation of seeing people amiably disposed towards one. The feeling of loneliness quickly vanishes. My walking stick becomes especially delightful to me. The handle of a coffeepot suddenly looks very large and remains so. (One becomes so sensitive: afraid of being hurt by a shadow falling across paper. --Disgust disappears. One reads the slate on the pissoir.) I wouldn't be surprised if Mr. So-and-so came up to me. That he doesn't do so does not matter to me, either. But it's too loud for me there.

    Now the demands which the hashish eater makes on time and space come into play. They are, as is well-known, absolutely regal. Versailles is not too great for one who has eaten hashish nor eternity too long-lasting. And in the background of these immense dimensions of the inner adventure, of absolute duration and the immeasurable spatial realm, a wonderful, blessed humor now lingers all the more agreeably with the contingencies of the spatio-temporal world. I am endlessly aware of this humor when I find out that the kitchen at Basso's and the entire upstairs have just closed the very moment I've sat down to tuck in eternity. All the same, the feeling afterwards that all this indeed remains forever, constant, lit up, well-patronized and full of life. Presently I must note how I happened to find a seat at Basso's. To me it was a matter of the view of the Old Port which one had from the upper storey. As I was passing by below I spied an unoccupied table on the balcony of the second floor. In the end, however, I only got as far as the first. Most of the tables by windows were occupied. So I walked over to quite a large one which seemed to have just become free. The moment I sat down, though, the disproportion became apparent to me: disgraceful to seat myself this way at such a large table, so I walked on through the whole floor towards the opposite end to take a seat at a smaller table which had just then become visible.

    But the meal was later. First, the little bar on the port. I was again on the verge of making a confused retreat, for I heard a concert, what's more a brass section, coming from that direction. I was just barely able to account for it as nothing more than a honking car horn. On the way to the vieux port [Old Port], already this wonderful lightness and determination in my stride, which turned the stony, irregular pavement of the large public square I crossed into the dirt of a country road which I, brisk wanderer, traveled by night. For I still avoided the Cannebière at this time, not being certain of my regular functions.

    In that little port bar the hashish began to allow its truly canonical magic free reign with a primitive acuity which I had hardly experienced before. Namely, it began to make me a physiognomist, at any rate an observer of physiognomies, and I witnessed something quite unique in my experience: I became dead set on the forms in the faces around me, which were partly of a remarkable rawness and ugliness; faces which I generally would have avoided for two reasons: neither would I have wished to draw their attention to myself, nor would I have been able to bear their brutality. It was a seemingly advanced outpost, this port tavern. It was the one furthest in that direction which was still accessible without putting me in danger, and here in my rausch I had assessed it with the same certainty with which a deeply exhausted person understands how to fill a glass to the very brim without spilling a drop, whereas a person with refreshed senses would never be in a position to do so. It was still far enough away from the rue Bouterie, and yet no bourgeois were sitting there. At best there were a pair of petit bourgeois families from the neighborhood sitting next to some of the authentic harbor proletariat. I now grasped all at once how to a painter --has it not happened to Rembrandt and many others? --ugliness is the true reservoir of beauty, better than the receptacles of its treasure; just as the jagged mountain chain could appear with all the interior Gold of the Beautiful sparkling from its folded strata, vistas and ranges. I particularly recall an infinitely bestial and vulgar face of one of the men, from which the "wrinkles of abandon" suddenly struck me. It was men's faces which appealed to me most. And now, too, I began the long sustained game in which an acquaintance surfaced up in front of me in each new face. Often I knew his name, often again not. The deception vanished as deceptions in dreams vanish, that is, not in shame and with oneself compromised, but rather untroubled and friendly like a being which has performed its obligation. Under these circumstances there could be no talk of loneliness; was I my own companionship? That certainly, though not quite so conspicuously. Nor do I know if that would have particularly pleased me. This, on the contrary, was no doubt more likely: I became my own shrewdest, most sensitive, most shameless pander, and procured for myself with the ambiguous certainty of one who is intimately acquainted with and has studied the desires of his customer. Then it began to take half an eternity until the waiter appeared. Rather, I couldn't wait for him to appear. I walked into the barroom and left the money on the table. Whether tips are customary in such a tavern, I don't know. I would have left something in any case, though, otherwise. Under hashish yesterday I was stingier; it wasn't until I grew fearful that my extravagances would attract attention that I really made myself conspicuous.

    The same at Basso's, with the order. First I ordered a dozen oysters. The man also wanted to know right then what was to be ordered for the following course. I indicated a standard something or other. Then he returned with the news that they were out of that. So I looked over the menu at the other courses under the same section, seemed about to order one when the name of another above it caught my eye, until I had reached the top of the list. It was not out of gluttony, though, but rather a quite pronounced politeness towards the entrés, which I didn't want to insult by disregarding them. In short, I got stuck on a pâté de Lyon. Lion pâté I thought, laughing facetiously as it sat before me nicely on a plate, and then disdainfully: this delicate rabbit --or chicken meat-- whatever it may be. To be sated on a lion would not have seemed at all out of proportion to my lion appetite. Besides, it was secretly all settled that I would go to another restaurant after I'd finished at Basso's (that was around 10:30) and have dinner a second time.

    First, however, [was] the way to Basso's. I glided along the quayside and read one after another the names of the boats docked there. At the same time I was overcome by an incomprehensible cheerfulness, and I smiled in the face of all the first names of France there in a row. It seemed to me that the love which was promised to these boats along with their names was wonderful, beautiful and touching. Only one called Aero II, which reminded me of aerial warfare, did I pass over unaffably, just as I'd been forced to avert my glance from certain overly deformed faces in the bar which I'd just come from.

    Upstairs at Basso's the tricks commenced for the first time when I looked down. The square in front of the port was, to put it best, like a palette on which I mixed the local colors at random, probing this way and that, irresponsibly if you will, but like a great painter who views his palette as an instrument. I was extremely reluctant to partake of the wine. It was a half bottle of Cassis, a dry wine. A piece of ice swam in the glass. It was, however, exquisitely compatible with my drug. I had chosen my table because of the open window through which I could glance down at the dark square. And when I did so from time to time it had the tendency to alter itself with each person who set foot on it, as if it formed a figure [in relation] to the person which, mind you, had nothing to do with how he saw it, but rather was closer to the view of the great portraitists of the 17th Century who cast persons of title in relief by positioning them in front of porticos and windows.

    Here I must make this general remark: the solitariness of such a rausch has its shadow side. To speak of the physical aspect alone, there was a moment in the port tavern when a severe pressure in my diaphragm sought release in humming. Furthermore, there's no doubt that many a beautiful and illuminating thing remains dormant. But on the other hand, the solitariness acts in turn as a filter; what one writes down the next day is more than an enumeration of sequential events. In the night the rausch stands out with prismatic edges against everyday experience. It forms a kind of figure and is more memorable than usual. I should say, it contracts and in so doing fashions the form of a flower.

    To get closer to the riddle of bliss in rausch one must reconsider Ariadne's thread. What delight [there is] in the mere act of unwinding a skein. And this delight is quite profoundly related to the delight of rausch, as it is to the delight in creative work. We go forward: but in doing so not only do we discover the bends of the cavern in which we venture forth, but rather we savor this happiness of discovery by virtue of that other rhythmical bliss which comes from unraveling a skein. Such a certainty from the intricately wound skein that we unravel - is that not the happiness of at least every prose form of productivity? And under hashish we are prose beings savoring at the peak of our powers. De la poésie lyrique --pas pour un sou.

    At a [public] square off the Cannebière where the rue Paradis runs into promenades, an all-engrossing sensation of happiness came over me which is harder to get a grasp of than everything prior to this point. Fortunately, in my newspaper I find the sentence: " By the spoonful one must draw sameness [das Gleiche ] out of reality ". Numerous weeks prior to this I'd read a sentence by Johannes V. Jensen which seemed to say something similar: "Richard was a young man who had a sense for everything in the world of the same kind." This sentence had quite pleased me. It now enabled me to confront the political-rational sense that it had for me with yesterday's experience of a individual-magical one. Whereas Jensen's sentence meant for me that things are, as we certainly know, so thoroughly mechanized [and] rationalized that whatever today is particular lies hidden in the nuances only, the insight yesterday was completely different, namely, I saw nuances alone; and they were the same. I became inwardly engrossed in the pavement in front of me. By means of a kind of salve - magic salve- that I glossed it over with, so to speak, this very same pavement could have been Parisian pavement. One often talks about stones for bread. Here these stones were the bread of my imagination, which thereupon had suddenly become voracious to taste that same something of all locales and countries. During this phase as I sat in the dark, the chair against the wall of a house, there were fairly isolated moments of [an] obsessive character [Suchtcharakter]. I was immensely proud to think of sitting in Marseilles here on the street in a hashish rausch ; certainly who else shared my rausch here, on this evening, how few. As though I were not capable of sensing the danger of approaching misfortune and loneliness, the hashish was ever to remain. In this thoroughly intermittent stage a nearby nightclub's music, which was following me, played an extraordinary rôle. [It] was peculiar how my ear made a point of not recognizing "Valencia" as "Valencia". [Gustav] Glück [16] drove past me in a taxi. It was a fleeting moment. It had been strange, just as, earlier, [Erich] Unger [17] had suddenly emerged out of the shadows of the boat on the quay from the form of a harbor dead beat and pimp. And when I discovered some such literary figure again at a nearby table at Basso's, I said to myself that I had finally found out what literature was good for. But there were not only familiar figures. Here in the stage of the deepest reverie, two figures - philistines, vagrants, who knows - passed by me as "Dante and Petrarch". "All men are brothers." Thus began a train of thought which I can no longer follow. But its final segment was certainly much less banal than its first, and led perhaps into animal imagery. But that was at a stage other than the one at the port, from which I find the short note: "Acquaintances only and beauties only " --namely, the passers-by.

    "Barnabus" stood on an electric tram which briefly came to a stop in front of the square where I was sitting. To me, though, the sad and desolate story of Barnabus seemed no bad destination for a tram outward bound for the city limits of Marseilles. Around the door of a dance-hall a very beautiful scene was taking place. Every now and then a Chinese man in blue silk pants and luminous rose-colored jacket emerged. That was the doorman. Girls made themselves conspicuous in the doorway. I was in a very contented mood. It amused me to see a young man with a girl in a white dress coming out and to jump to the conclusion: "She gave him the slip in there in her chemise and he's claiming her back to him again. That's it." The thought of sitting here in a center of every revelry flattered me, and by "here" I was not referring to the city but to the little, by no means eventful spot where I was sitting. But the manner in which the events occurred was such that the outward appearance touched me with a magic wand and I became engulfed in a dream about it. At such times people and things behave like those stage props and mannequins made out of elder pulp in the glazed tin-foil crate, which become galvanized by rubbing the glass and with each movement involuntarily enter into the most bizarre relationships.

    The music, which meanwhile continued to blare and subside, I called the straw scourge of jazz. I've forgotten the reasons with which I permitted myself to tap my foot to the beat. That goes against my upbringing, and it did not happen without inner conflict. There were times when the intensity of the acoustic impressions crowded out all the others.

    Most of all, it was the din of voices, and not the streets, which drowned out everything in the little port bar. The strangest thing about this noise of voices was that it sounded entirely like dialect. The people of Marseilles suddenly did not speak a good enough French to me, you might say. They had stopped short at the dialect stage. That phenomenon of alienation, which may be implied, and which Kraus has formulated with the fine adage "The closer one looks at a word, the further away it looks back" appears to refer to things here, too. At any rate I find among my entries the astonished note: "How things resist one's glances."

    The effects wore off when I crossed the Cannebière and finally turned the corner to have just a little ice cream in a small Café des Cours Belsunce. It was not far from that other, first café of this evening where the lover's bliss which the contemplation of some fringe ruffling in the wind imparted suddenly convinced me that the hashish had begun to take effect. And when I recall this state, I'd like to think that hashish, in relation to nature, possesses the force and power of persuasion to allow us to recapture the great squandering of one's own existence, which we savor when we're in love. For when we are in love for the first time and our existence slips like gold coins through nature's fingers, which cannot hold on to them and must lavishly spend them in order to obtain the new being, the new-born, then, without hoping or expecting a thing, she flings us with both hands full toward existence.

    * * *

    Return to Protocol Index

    Protocol V:

    Walter Benjamin: Hashish Beginning of March 1930


    A divided, ambivalent course of events. A positivum: the presence of Gert,[18] who through apparently quite extensive experiences of this sort (hashish was obviously something new to her) became a force boosting the effects of the toxin. Just how much, to be discussed later. On the other hand, a negativum: insufficient effect upon her and Egon, due perhaps to the inferior quality of the preparation, which was not the same as the one I took. Not being sufficient, Egon's narrow lodgings were entirely inadequate and such a poor nourishment for my dreams that I kept my eyes shut for almost the entire session. This led to experiences which were completely new to me.

    If contact with Egon was nil, when not negative, then contact with Gert had too sensual a hue to make a purely filtered intellectual yield of the undertaking possible.

    Nonetheless, I see from certain notes of Gert that the rausch was so deep that the words and images have vanished from me at a particular stage. Since contact with other people, moreover, is essential to attain intellectually and linguistically articulated utterances, it can be inferred from the above that the insights this time were out of proportion to the depth of the rausch and the enjoyment, if you will. All the more reason to emphasize just what it was that seemed to be the core of this session, not only in Gert's notes but according to my own recollection. These are the pronouncements I made about the nature of the aura. Everything I said then was pointed polemically at the theosophists, whose inexperience and ignorance I found highly obnoxious. And in opposition to the conventional, banal notions of the theosophists, I posited three aspects of the genuine aura, albeit unsystematically. First of all, the genuine aura appears in all things, not just specific ones as people imagine. Secondly, the aura changes completely and fundamentally with each movement made by the object whose aura it is. Thirdly, the genuine aura can in no way be thought of as the immaculate, spiritualistic magic ray as depicted and described in vulgar, mystical books. On the contrary, the distinguishing feature of the genuine aura is: the ornament, an ornamental periphery [Umzirkung] in which the thing or being lies fixed, as if confined in a sheath. Nothing conveys as accurate a conception of the genuine aura as van Gogh's late paintings, which could be described as all things painted with their accompanying aura.

    From another phase. First experience I had of audition colorée. I was not very attentive to what Egon said because my hearing immediately converted his words into the perception of colorful, metallic glitter which coalesced in patterns. I made this understandable to him by comparing it to the knitting patterns which we loved as the beautiful colored plates of "Herzblättchens Zeitvertreib" [Darling's Diversions] when we were children.

    Even more remarkable perhaps is a later phenomenon connected to how Gert's voice sounded to me. That was at the moment when she gave herself a shot of morphine, and I, not having had any knowledge of the effects of this drug aside from what I'd read in books, was able to describe her state to her in a fully penetrating and accurate manner based --as I myself maintained-- on her intonation. Otherwise, this turn of events --Egon's and Gert's veering off into morphine-- was, to a certain extent, the end of the experiment for me; but a highlight as well, I must admit. It was the end because the enormous sensitivity evoked by the hashish threatened to turn every inability to be understood into a source of suffering, which I suffered then, too, since "we had parted ways from each other". At least that is how I formulated it. It was a highlight because of this subdued but persistent, sensual relation to Gert which I now felt as she fiddled with the syringe (an instrument to which I have a considerable aversion), nor could I help being influenced by the black pyjamas she wore --for this whole relation then took on a black hue, to which her repeated and stubborn attempts to induce me to take morphine were unnecessary for her to appear to me as a kind of Medea, a lady poisoner from Colchis.

    Some remarks on the characteristic of the zone of vision [Bilderzone]. If while talking to someone we notice that this person is smoking a cigar or pacing back and forth in the room, etc., it comes as no surprise to us that, being unconscious of the effort we expend in speaking to him, we are still capable of following his movements. An entirely different picture is presented, however, when the images we see before us while speaking to a third party have their origins within ourselves. In ordinary states of consciousness this is, of course, not an issue. On the contrary, suppose such images arise, even arise incessantly, they nonetheless remain unconscious. In the hashish rausch the situation is otherwise. It is possible, as this evening proved, for a virtually tumultuous production of images [19] to take place independently of any residual fixation and orientation on the part of our attention. Whereas images arising spontaneously in ordinary states, of which we are not in the least aware, remain for that very reason unconscious, the images in hashish obviously do not require our attention at all for them to show themselves to us. To be sure, the production of images can unearth such extraordinary things so fleetingly and with such rapidity that we cannot manage to pay attention to anything else on account of the beauty and peculiarity of this world of images. Such was the case that --as I now formulate it in a lucid state with a certain proficiency in imitating hashish formulations-- every word of Egon's I heard detained me from an distant journey. As for the images themselves, I can no longer say much more than that they were small in scale, for they appeared and disappeared with tremendous rapidity. They were essentially objective, but often with a considerably ornamental overlay. Things with such an overlay are preferred: masonry, or example, or archways or certain plants. At the very beginning I formed the word "Strickpalmen"["Stitchpalms"] to designate what I saw. Palms with a certain amount of meshwork, like petticoats, I explained. Then entirely indistinguishable images like those familiar to us from surrealist painting. For example, a long gallery of suits of armor which concealed neither soul, nor heads; instead flames played around the opening at the neck. A terrific peal of laughter from the others was released by my "Decline of the Art of Cake-Baking." The matter was as follows: for a time giant, larger-than-lifesize cakes appeared to me. Like standing in front of a lofty mountain, the cakes were so gigantic that I could only see part of them. I launched into detailed descriptions of how such cakes were so consummate that it was not necessary to eat them, for they immediately stilled all appetite through the eyes. And this I called "vision bread" [Augenbrot, literally "eye bread"]. Just how I happened to coin this phrase, I can no longer recall. But I believe that I'm not mistaken when I construe it in the following way: nowadays one is required to eat the cake and therein lies the blame for the decline in the art of cake-baking. The coffee which was poured into my cup I treated analogously. For a good quarter of an hour I held the cup full of coffee suspended in my hand, explaining it as being beneath my dignity to drink from it, and I transformed it, to a certain extent, into a sceptre. How one can speak of the hand's need for a sceptre in hashish. This rausch was not very rich in coinages. I recall a "Haupelzwerg"[20], a concept which I tried to convey to the others. More intelligible is my reply to one of Gert's utterances, which I took up with my customarily unbounded disdain. And the formula of this disdain was: "What you say means as much to me as a Magdeburg rooftop."

    Particularly striking was the beginning, in the first phases of the rausch, when I compared things to the instruments of an orchestra which are tuned before the performance begins.

    * * *

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    Protocol VI:

    Walter Benjamin: On the Session of 7/8 June 1930


    7/8 June 1930. Extremely deep hashish depression. Felt passionately in love with Gert. Left completely forlorn in my armchair; agonized at her being alone with Egon. And on top of everything, he is unusually jealous as well; continually threatened to throw himself out the window were Gert to leave him. But that is just what she didn't do. Certainly the solid foundations of my sorrow were already there. Two days ago, a fleeting chance occurrence at becoming better acquainted which revealed just how much my sphere of activities has in fact narrowed, and not long before that (a piano upstairs is bothering me) the noteworthy night with Margarete Köppke, who insisted so much on my being a child that I distinctly gathered how much she intended the opposite of man with the word, and who impelled me so much towards my own kindred. I found at least three of the components in Bloch's formula: poor, old, sick and forsaken to be applicable to myself. I have doubts whether things will turn out well for me. As for country, locality and position, means of living, the future holds only the most uncertain prospects for me. Many friends, but I pass from one hand to the next. Many accomplishments, but none to make a living from and many which are a hindrance to my work. It was as if these thoughts wanted to hold me captive; and this time they did so, too, with ropes, so to speak. How inclined I was to see revelations behind all of the insulting things Gert said, which she read from my face, and to make Köppke's riddles with dates and warnings my own. I am so sad that I must practically indulge myself uninterruptedly in order to live. However, I was also quite determined to let Gert indulge me. As she danced I drank in every line which she set into motion, and what all couldn't I say about this dance and this night if Satan himself were not playing piano upstairs there. I spoke while I was watching her with the conscious sense of borrowing much from Altenberg[21]; words and figures of speech of his, perhaps, which I myself had never read in his writings. While she was in the midst of her dance I tried to describe it to her. The most exquisite thing was that I saw everything in this dance, or rather, such an infinite amount that was clear to me; everything would be inconceivable. What is the inclination of all the ages for hashish, of the Kaffir himself or many words, thoughts, sounds --of Africa or of the ornament, for example, compared with the red Ariadne's thread which offers us the dance through its labyrinth. I allowed her every opportunity to transform herself in essence, in age, in gender. Many identities spread over her back like fog over the night sky. When she danced with Egon she was a slender boy in black attire. Both of them cut an extravagant figure through the room. Apart, she was quite in love with herself in the mirror. The window in her back stood black and empty. In its frame the centuries receded in a backwards motion while with each of her gestures --so I said to her-- she either took up a fate or let it fall, twisted it around her, coiling herself tightly into it, or strained after it, let it lie there or leaned amiably close to it. What odalisques do when they dance before Pashas, Gert did for me. But then this flood of insulting words erupted from her which she seemed to have pent up just before the final wildest outpouring. I had the feeling that she was restraining herself, holding back the worst, and in so thinking I would certainly not have deceived myself. Solitude then followed, and hours later the attempt of brow and voice to console, but by that time my grief within the recesses of the sofa bastion had intensified too much and I was not to become rescued. Thereupon the most unspeakable faces drowned along with me, [and] nothing, almost nothing [would have] made it across to safety were there not floating on the surface of this black flood the peak of a gothic church spire made of wood; wooden spire trimmed with colorful, dark green and red panes.

    * * *

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    Protocol VII:

    Egon Wissing: Protocol to the Experiment of 7 March 1931


    W[alter] B[enjamin], a capsule at 9 o'clock, first effect 11 o'clock. Lying down, with eyes closed most of the time, completely calm. My entries concluded at 1 o'clock. Approx. 1/4 hr. after the effects set in he sticks his index finger straight up in the air; retaining this gesture unchanged for at least an hour.

    A depressive and euphor[ic] element continuously struggled with one other. It was probably not this conflict alone, however, which led to the difficulty or impossibility --felt negatively by the test subject-- of making any progress within the rausch toward the construction of thoughts; rather, the effects of the Eukod[al][22] , which subject took at 10:30 (0.02 subcutaneously), certainly played a part as well. An additional feature belonging to the general characteristic [is] that toys or colorful children's pictures thrust themselves to the fore again and again.

    Subject repeatedly makes vain initial attempts to meet the rausch halfway; the left bedroom window played a part in this context, just before the blue of the night sky assumed an unusual intensity and sweetness under the influence of the h[ashish], which accounts for the explanation later that the window had "something of the heart..."

    "Crouching windmills from a children's book," agricultural images also returned later. There was an excursus about the "field drum" ["Ackerwalze"] with ironic allusions to the Osthilfe [23]. The field drum, whose crank lies deeply hidden in the grain, is turned by a goblin and effects the ripening of the seed.

    His raised arm, or rather hand, "disguises itself" covered with varicolored glazed paper. The subject explains that his arm is "a look-out tower - or rather a look-in tower --images go in and out-- he feels no pain."

    It is at this phase that I am telephoned and my medical services are urgently beckoned by a neighbor woman who lives on the same floor. I promptly put myself in some semblance of order, stand up, whereby subject seems to be extremely unhappy and utters: "Don't leave me alone," etc. I stay for about 10 minutes and return afterwards. Subject is lying in exactly the same position, the index finger still pointing vertically. He indicates that I have been very neglectful.

    From subject's later pronouncements and recollections arose the particularly impressive image of a staircase, which was later an "ice staircase" whence an extract appeared in the spiral form of a smaller than life-size winding staircase upon whose every step along the outer wall a tiny, delicately colored doll-like figure appeared to be melting away, which the test subject called "little doll man", conscious that he was vulgarizing the state of affairs in a philistine manner. Later there was also talk of a "little doll woman". All of it entirely fanciful, smaller than life-size.

    There now came a period in which vegetable forms stood in the foreground. These mental images [Vorstellungen, representations] were accompanied to some extent by a sadistic primary feeling. In this context extremely tall trees which were slender and strictly symmetrical in form played the main part. It did not take long before these trees became metallic. The test subject gave to one of them the following explanation: the rigidness and immovableness of this tree does not at all belong to its original nature, which had once been something full of life. One still recognizes it in the beating of both great wings, to the right and left beneath the treetop. (Hence a variant of the Daphne motif to some extent). According to the subject, the trees make snapping movements, they become "Schnap-trees"[24] , called "little Zopper-tree" [25] in an earlier context. (Compare this to what was said about the "little doll man").--

    The leitmotifs of the following sequence of images have been designated by the test subject himself as "heraldic". At the same time the image of rhythmically animated surfaces of water first appeared, which lasted for a longer time. The visual mirror-relation of heraldic emblems, the shifted correspondence which occurs just like crests [Wappen, also "coats of arms"] in the mirror-images of the water, becomes expressed by the subject with the verse:

    "Wellen schwappen -- Wappen schwellen"

    ["Waves are splashing - Crests are swelling"][26].

    This word order came as the finally satisfying one after numerous other attempts. The subject set great store by this verse, in the conviction that here the same mirror symmetry that dominated the images of crests and waves also came to light in language --though certainly not by imitating, but rather in original identity with the optical image. The subject holds forth insistently: "quod in imaginibus, est in lingua". The water continues to dominate the image-world. The mental image of the sea which the waves were based on recedes, however, into the image of currents. Its water actually never comes to light, i.e., it is covered over in layers of fruit-like patterns, later plainly fruit, predominantly berries, which lie stratified in tiny tartlet-like boats, which slide from one into the next. The subject speaks of "Beerenwiegen" [berry-cradles], "Zipwiegen" [onion-cradles][27] or "garden-fruit cradles" as well. -- "All the seas and rivers filled with little fruit cradles." The vegetable forms were finally transformed into garlands, there was talk of a "science of garlands."

    It seemed that a period of deep reverie (Versunkenheit, immersion) then followed, from which the original protocol has retained the sentence: "One hears not with the ears alone, but also with the voice." The subject elucidates the sentence: in the rausch the voice is not only a spontaneous but also a receptive organ; by speaking it explores, as it were, that whereof it speaks. For example, when speaking of the stone steps of a staircase, the voice mimetically receives the hollow spaces of the porous stone in its own sonority.

    An image without any controllable context arises: fishnets. "Nets spread over the whole earth before the end of the world." The world thereby empty of human beings, grey.

    A short period of oriental images followed: "Elephants, changing pagodas. The legs of the elephants sway like fir-trees."

    A wood appears to the subject. He explains somewhat ironically that people are always speaking about the allure of the woods. Well, why do the woods lure them, then? One can experience this with Mexicans. To the Mexican, going into the woods means to die. That is the reason why the woods allure."

    Test subject explains that he's having a "bad rausch". He blames the morphine for his "demoralization". By demoralization he means a small output of knowledge yielded in the rausch. Accordingly, somewhat later on the subject explains that he's had "no proper rausch at all, rather a decorative rausch and sales rausch." [Zierrausch und Reklamerausch].

    "Grotto made of fretwork", "fretsaw-nose" ["Laubsägenase"][28] and then with an alteration of the consonants "Laufsägespiel"

    In this connection then was the tale about the field-drum (see above).

    "Good, learned, playthings", later: new characteristic of the rausch: "horse rausch", "plaster rausch" [Pflasterrausch], "dainty, foppish and plastery" -- "everything inlaid like marzipan..., must one differentiate sweets in the various domains of the senses?" Evidently a more serious advance in the direction of knowledge was planned here regarding that which made sweetness in the various domains of the senses and experience possible. But at the time the only sentence formulated which might indicate his viewpoint toward this epistemological experiment was: "The knowledge of the sweet is not sweet."

    "Box state...", "the images want to shut one up inside a lonely chamber, should one enter them."

    New characteristic of the rausch:: "Wertheimerrausch [29]: everything in mass quantities." (Compare with the above-mentioned currents inundated with the same kinds of things.) Subsequent to this: "One would have to persevere, that there be very many people like oneself." This sentence was surely not coined solely with regard to the spiritual, but rather specifically, perhaps above all, with regard to corporeal appearance.

    "Snowflakes... shaggy-heads... childish." The subject describes in detail how snow is shaken out of "cotton bins" from the sky.

    "Images desire only their flux, everything is the same to them."

    "Remembrance is a bath."

    With perhaps an allusion to the seductive sweetness of the rausch, particularly the mo[rphine] rausch, it was then said: "to cast intentions to the wind is a sportingly correct activity."

    Later: "I would like to write something that emerges from things like wine from grapes."

    [Here there is a small lacuna in the protocol]

    Later on the subject describes "an unbelievably high Venice where one sees no sea." That the sea there is hidden or rather becomes restrained is portrayed by the subject with a feeling of triumph. He underscored that with the information on the "heraldic motto of the city": "Venetiani non monstrant marem." Subject lingers over Venice and speaks of "inauthentic, dim, enchanted lagunes."

    "Gristmills laid by complaint like eggs by chickens." ["Mühle, die die Klage so legt, wie die Hühner die Eier."]

    "City with gardens where people take a little hashish" (A kind of greater, more blissful allotment garden) "Advantages of the ha[shish] delight in general must be weighed unprejudicially."

    A little fantasy follows whose kinship with some of Kubin's [30] notions was declared by the subject himself. "That is the story of the garret-milliner, who modeled the garrets of the city according to the forms prevailing at the time."

    With the remark that the "the Swiss of the Pope" are to have been from "Saxon Switzerland" the protocol came to a close.

    * * *

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    Protocol VIII:

    Fritz Fränkel: Protocol of the Experiment of 12 April 1931 (Fragment.)


    W[alter] B[enjamin] O.4 gr. 11:15 p.m. (It became apparent later that the dose was not sufficient for attaining a deep rausch.)

    A certain negligible effect came on after three quarters of an hour but was greatly assisted in an obvious manner by the test subject. One remark is particularly interesting in the context of the following protocol where a "concurrence between yellow and green" is mentioned. The remark was occasioned by the sustained contemplation of a piece of tinfoil.

    "Halos are mountain resorts for angels." "The heavenly Jerusalem is a mountain air resort." That is important. Conversely: "[The] high-altitude resort is a religious concept."

    "If Freud psychoanalyzed the Creation, then the fjords would not come off well."

    "Rüststadt [Scaffold city]: Old city of cast-off scaffolding erected for the sunset. The city can be called Roughneck."

    A dog barks. Subject speaks of a jagged dog and explains barking as an acoustic serration. In contrast to the jagged dog is posited the refined dog, i.e., a quiet dog. (Implicit is the idea that the dog is unrefined because he barks).

    "Ornaments are spirit-settlements [Geistersiedlungen]".

    * * *

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    Protocol IX:

    Fritz Fränkel: Protocol of 18 April 1931


    11 p.m. W[alter] B[enjamin] 1.0 gr.

    12 Midnight: Sudden laughter, repeated in short bursts. "I would like to metamorphose into a mouse-mountain [Mausberg] " (Naturally: Parturiunt montes, nascetur ridiculus mus). [31]

    "That's more Simulin than hashish." This remark made especially clear the test subject's suspicion of the preparation's quality, which preoccupied him throughout the beginning [of the experiment].

    "We'll make this Enoch the deadhead [Zaungast, also "looker-on"] of this meeting." When I laugh at this the subject remarks: "one cannot talk to ameratsim." [32]

    Subject suddenly shouts in a military tone of voice: "Halt, ap-penned-tion!" [33] This manner of speaking was to recur later. Trust in the quality of the preparation begins to make itself apparent. Subject expresses the opinion that it is a preparation for "seesawing". Two different states of mind are concentrated in this remark: first of all, it takes into account the phase-like character of the process. Secondly, however, there is the ever persisting mistrust, in which case the seesaw swings between sobriety and rausch.

    Test subject notices a crumpled piece of paper next to a bottle on the little table and in an overjoyed tone designates this "little monkey", or rather "little stereoscopette monkey" [Stereoskopinäffchen], "little stereoscopette". In keeping with the quite light and friendly character of this rausch, the droll relation subject has to his own Dasein does not reveal itself through haughtiness and distance, as is normal. Subject's elation has instead the opposite effect, namely as sensitivity to things, above all to words. Test subject uses a remarkable number of diminutives. The prior incident with the word "little stereoscopette monkey" is therefore quite indicative of how the hashish rausch effects a kind of volatilization of mental images into word-aromas, though here, for example, the actual substance of the mental image in the word --the stem: monkey-- completely evaporates.

    Mistrust reemerges: test subject declares that "it all has no effect" and then in a military tone of voice: "Quiet;" he looks at the crumpled ball of paper again and calls to it, "Come, little monkey," "the monkey's monkeying around," "to monkey around" [äffen], "to ape" [nachäffen], "to pre-personate" [voräffen]. [34]

    A dog on the street that has been barking for some time is designated by the test subject as "hashish hound". [35]

    Mistrust reemerges for the last time. Subject expresses that there is "no trace of an effect" but then various objects begin to arrange themselves in such a way that "I could be having an effect". The room we find ourselves in is called an "unattractive room" where, according to the subject, "oriental palaces belong, I don't dream of picturing it myself, in such a way that would do palaces justice." Furthermore, subject expresses his desire "to see something beautiful".

    Subject picks up a newspaper and seriously attempts to read it, showing no preoccupation with inner aspects of the rausch. At any rate, reading the news was not a success; whether the reasons were mental or physical cannot be ascertained; evidently from both; in any case the comprehension of the printed letters on the page was hindered by entoptic scomata. Test subject feels mysteriously amused by the driest political slogans. Ironic wordplay with the names Frick and Munter. [36] "Pu-pu-public peace, respect and order."

    At this point, subject stepped over the threshold of the actual rausch.

    "All the colors are advancing from the snow -- you have to pay attention to colors."

    As in earlier experiments, test subject holds his forearm and index finger straight up in the air, supported by his elbow. "Perhaps my hand will slowly turn into a little tendril." It is now most unusually characteristic that either simultaneously with this remark or immediately thereafter, subject's mental image of his hand branching out into tendrils was followed by the image of his hand becoming overgrown with hoar-frost. This mental image, however, absolutely did not enter into speech during the rausch; on the contrary, it had its actual function in the perpetual process of becoming postponed, so that for long stretches of the rausch one can speak of a technical construction of a Rahmenerzählung [link and frame story, story within a story]: two limbs of a mental image branch off from one another, raising the whole profusion of images in the space between to a new phase. One has to negotiate, so to speak, the "open sesame" which is directed at the mental image. The mental image itself splits in two, opening the doorway to new treasure chests of images. This constantly repeated mechanism comprises one of the most amusing moments of the hashish rausch.

    "Everything commences with an effortless 'perhaps'."

    "Vermin go home" ["Ungeziefer gehen sie nach Hause"].

    "The cylinder is the extension of the man."

    Test subject is once again occupied with the room, now in a far more amiable mood than before. He calls it "little room," saying "little room, I'd like to say something beautiful to you."

    In a context which can no longer be recalled, the subject has the urge to characterize one of his remarks as a digression. For that reason the expression 'curve in the glazing' occurs to him. That was connected to an optical image that entirely corresponded to the word.

    Test subject no longer has any doubt now concerning the efficacy of the preparation and says: "The Merck firm has stood the test." Subject has "a parade ground full of thoughts" and then says "the little room and the preparation comprise a Tempelhof Field full of thoughts." [37] Test subject returns to the subject of colors, beginning with his pronunciation of the word green [grün] in a very drawn out singing cadence (approx. 20 sec.) and then says: "green is also yellow."

    Whatever this last remark refers to in the first place, it means nothing more than what it says, but perhaps more than what it says. It is based upon the experience of a mental image of something yellow next to the image of something green at the same time as the singing ü-sound in grün. Best would be to circumscribe these in the image of a swelling meadow whose periphery releases yellow sand. As for the perseveration of the word grün : here for perhaps the first time the intensely pathic accent of the rausch manifests itself, later becoming more and more potent in effect. The long, drawn out vowel contains it, so to speak, in the sense that the voice is drawn from the tone; just as the green was characteristic of something attractive, alluring, and leading into the ever more remote distance. "As the clouds wander in the heavenly canopy", so does the voice wander after the tone and the inner view after the things at this stage of the rausch. Therefore, when it is said that yellow is also green, what is roughly meant is that the yellow which appears to the inebriate draws the green along with it in gentle but irresistible currents.

    "Thoughts of colors are tender, just as Norwegians and flowers are tender; tender and ardent." (This observation characterizes itself as a moment of a brighter phase by the arbitrary, associative memory coming into play.)

    What is apparently the deepest stage of the rausch begins. With a long and involved introduction, there begins the revelation --postponed over and over again-- of secrets. Unfortunately, the second of these secrets is not to be found, for at this point the protocol's transcriber was quite resolutely forbidden to take down notes. This judgment to a great extent testifies to the depth of the rausch, for in less profound stages the inebriate's vanity is quite pleasantly affected by the fact that his words are being recorded. The first of these secrets:

    "It is a law: there is only a hashish effect when one is talking about hashish."

    The subject urgently insists that the window be closed, no doubt because he feels disturbed by the noise coming from outside. I shut the window, which elicits the most appreciative thanks. Within this context there follows a speculation about the 'good deed'. "When someone has done something good, then perhaps it turns into the eye of a bird."

    Concerning this matter it is to be observed: it is as usual as it is characteristic of the hashish rausch that speaking is connected to a kind of resignation, that the inebriate has already renounced expressing what really moves him, that he makes an effort to give expression to something parenthetical, something not serious instead of something authentic, but inexpressible, that he not infrequently speaks with the sense of being guilty of insincerity and that --and this is the most remarkable thing, needing some clarification-- the things expressed in ruptures, so to speak, may be far more remarkable and profound than that which would correspond to "what was intended" [Gemeinten].

    The scratching of the pencil across the paper strikes the subject "as scratching across silk," "little scratchette". This word is repeated several times. Test subject announces that he is having "a terrifically potent effect, connected with the most powerful things I've ever felt in hashish." The kind of rausch now appears to him as "indescribably festive". At this point the transcriber of the protocol was resolutely forbidden to take notes and the second secret was disclosed. The mental image was for the most part that of a narrow place surrounded by very tall houses, the roofs of which ended in what was almost an arch. The feeling connected with this image was of unparalleled festiveness that there was architecture spoiled so habitably by inhabitation and at the same time uninhabited. The observation: "Everything overhead is sealed off to me" was also in reference to this deep layer of images which was otherwise only short-lived and appeared fleetingly. (This could be compared to the representational scope of grave architecture.)

    The test subject tells the protocol's transcriber that he prefers not to be addressed in the familiar "du" (you) form. Reason: "I am not I, I am the hashish in certain instances." Physical symptoms are also especially strong in this stage. "The legs like they're laced together", "spasm" [Spasmus], then subsequently "Spasmus Sempers Jugendland ," [38] which is characterized by the test subject as an "epileptic novel."

    The sentence that now follows: "Important thoughts have to be tempered somewhat in sleep" may be related to the previously mentioned tendency to postpone expressing one's thoughts, a tendency which now and then can lead, as stated, to their complete repression. In a "deep phase, which I practically stumbled upon by accident; terrifically deep" there follows the third "great" secret. This is in fact a synopsis of the fundamental character of this particular rausch. It is characterized as the secret of wandering. Wandering is not based on a purposeful movement, nor a spontaneity, but rather a plainly unfathomable sense of being drawn, wandering is a pathic state, one could illustrate it by comparing it to clouds; supposing one could intuit their drift, they would be found not to draw but to be drawn.

    "Color needs only to throw shadows."

    "No one will be able to understand this rausch, the will to awaken has died."

    The chocolate which is offered to the subject is declined with the words: "food belongs to another world"; he is supposedly "prevented from eating by a dividing wall of glass."

    "The subject of a veiled face which is itself a veil is much too ethereal to allow for further discussion; only hashish knows about that."

    It is to be noted here that the apparition of that veiled face which was itself a veil was of such an unprecedentedly striking quality that it was still clear in the subject's mind days later. It was a small, oval head; behind the veil was another veil, patterned precisely after the form of a face. These veils were not hanging but instead were moving gently, stirred as if by an exhalation.

    "All noises swell together by themselves in landscapes." I heave a sigh, to which test subject remarks: "The sigh. . . like prospects; we have already heaved prospects in sighs." (The distance stretched out before his eyes as if exhaled into view. The distance draws closer to the breath to the same extent that it distances itself from view.) The problem of the connection of the senses was raised, and the depth within the same or different layers with which they extend.

    The mood changes abruptly. Test subject suddenly shouts: "The rausch is turning!" and repeats the utterance, laughing, that he suddenly happens to be in "an operetta mood." Furthermore, there was complete consciousness of the potency of the rausch, which was made apparent with the remark: "the rausch could last 30 hours."

    Support of arm and index finger is relaxed and then subject holds his arm straight up in the air, calling it "the birth of the kingdom of Armenia."

    Earlier, when raising his arm: "Now we will turn our gaze to the interpretation of the celestial bodies," his raised arm acting here as a telescope.

    Test subject suddenly falls asleep (1:15 a.m.).

    * * *

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    Protocol X:

    Walter Benjamin: Crock Notes:[39]


    No legitimation of crock is more effective than the sudden awareness of its having helped to penetrate that hidden, generally inaccessible world of surfaces constituting the ornament. We are surrounded by it almost every day, of course. Nevertheless, little confronts us which so breaks down our faculties of perception as it does. For the most part, in fact, we rarely see this world at all. With crock, however, the presence of it preoccupies us intensely: so much so that with the deepest pleasure we playfully exhaust those experiences of the ornament which childhood and fever made us capable of observing. These experiences are based on two different elements, both of which achieve their peak effectiveness in crock At issue here is the multiple significance of the ornament. There is not a one that cannot be viewed from at least two sides: namely, as surface pattern or else as linear configuration. In most of them, however, the individual forms, which can be united in very different groups, are capable of a multiplicity of configurations. This experience alone indicates one of the most intrinsic characteristics of crock namely, its indefatigable willingness to extract a multiplicity of sides, contents and meanings from one and the same set of circumstances-- for example, from a decor or landscape painting. In another context it will be shown that this multi-interpretability, whose ur-phenomenon lies in the ornament, merely represents another side of the peculiar experience of identity which crock discloses. The other feature of the ornament which accosts the crock reverie lies in its recurrence. It is highly characteristic of the reverie that it tends to present before the smoker objects --particularly small ones-- in series. The endless successions in which the same contrivances, little animals or plant forms suddenly surface in front of the person over and over again depict, so to speak, misshapen, barely formed sketches of a primitive ornament.

    Along with the ornament, however, certain other things of the most banal perceptual world [Merkwelt ] appear, whose inherent sense and significance only crock can transmit. Among other things, curtains and lace belong to this category. Curtains are interpreters for the language of the wind. They give its every breath the form and sensuousness of feminine forms. And to the smoker who becomes immersed in their play they allow all the joys to be savored which a consummate dancer can vouchsafe. On the other hand, if the curtain is filigreed it can become the instrument of an even more curious play. For to the smoker, these laces prove themselves to be patterns which he drapes over the landscape in order to transform it in the most peculiar way. The landscape which comes into view behind the lace is subordinated to the pattern in approximately the same way that the plumage of birds or the shapes of flowers are subordinated to the pattern in the arrangement of certain hats. There are old-fashioned postcards where a "Greetings from Bad Ems" partititions the city into pictures of the spa promenade, railroad station, Kaiser Wilhelm monument, school and Caroline Hts., each one circumscribed in its own little frame. Such postcards best convey an idea of how the lace curtains exercise their dominion over the view of the landscape. I tried to trace the flag from out of the curtain, but it eluded me.

    Colors can exert an uncommonly powerful impression upon the smoker. A corner in S[elz]'s room was decorated with scarves hanging on the wall. A pair of tumblers filled with flowers were sitting on a crate, which was draped over with a lace scarf. In the scarf and flowers various shades of red predominated. At an advanced stage of the fête I suddenly discovered this nook. It had an almost deafening effect upon me. Instantaneously I realized that, using this incomparable tool, my task was discover the sense of the color. I called this nook the "Laboratoire du Rouge". My first attempt to take on this project was not successful. I came back to it later, however. At the moment, my only recollection of the attempt is that the formulation of the question has been postponed. It was, granted, a more universal one and concerned colors in general. It appeared to me that, above all, their distinctive characteristic possessed form, [and] that they were completely identical to the material in which they appeared. Although they appeared completely the same in the most dissimilar things --e.g. a flower petal and a piece of paper-- they appeared as mediator or matchmaker of the material realm; only by means of them did the most distant objects have the power of combining perfectly with one another.



    A moralizing posture which obstructs essential insights into the nature of crock has drawn attention away from a decisive aspect of the intoxication. The question is an economic one. For it is not overstating the case to say that a primary motive of addiction in very many instances is this: to enhance the addict's suitability in the struggle for existence [Existenzkampf ]. And this goal is by no means a fictive one; on the contrary, it is actually attained in many instances. This comes as no surpise to anyone who has been able to follow the increasing power of attraction, which the toxin uncommonly often bestows upon the addict. The phenomenon is as undeniable as its reasons are concealed. One can surmise that in the course of the alterations which the toxin engenders, it also interrupts a pattern of behavior which for the most part hinders the individual. Unkindness, fanaticism about being correct, and pharasaism are traits which one only seldom encounters in addicts. Add to this a sedative effect of the toxin, so long as its potency lasts, and not the minutest factor is able to justify the convinction that there could be virtually nothing significant or worthwhile in taking the toxin. Now all this can give even those of a more unassuming nature a sovereignty which they originally did not possess - especially in their vocational capacity. Such a state of mind becomes especially valuable to solitary individuals because it makes the changes - in character and even physiognomy - known not only to others but also, and perhaps more importantly, to the addicts themselves. While on the one hand the mechanism of inhibitions has a tendency to express itself in a hoarse, husky or suppressed voice, whose modifications are easier for the speaker to perceive than for the listener, the disengagement of this mechanism on the other hand --at least in terms of the subject's feelings-- makes itself known by a surprising, precise, felicitous command of one's own voice. It is very likely that the relaxation which these processes provide is not always an immediate effect of the drug. On the contrary, in cases where numerous intoxicated individuals congregate, there is still an additional factor involved. Numerous drugs have the common property of intensifying the enjoyment of gathering with partners so extraordinarily that not infrequently a kind of misanthropy arises among the people concerned. Consorting with others who do not share their practices seems just as worthless to them as it is burdensome. It goes without saying that this charm by no means always pivots around this conversational niveau. On the other hand, however, the sense of something quite out of the ordinary, which such sessions have for those who habitually organize them, is also more than a mere suppression of inhibitions. It seems rather that something like a bond of inferiorities, complexes and disturbances takes place among the various partners. The addicts siphon off the dregs of their existence, so to speak; they have a cathartic effect on each other. That this is bound up with extraordinary dangers goes without saying. On the other hand, though, this circumstance can also explain the great, often irreplaceable value which this vice possesses for precisely the most current constellations of everyday life.

    The opium smoker or hashish eater experiences the power of imbibing at a glance a hundered sites from a single spot. Morning sleep after smoking. It is, I then said, as if life had been like preserves sealed up in a tin. Sleep merely the liquor in which it had been located and in which it now, filled with all the fragrances of life, is decanted.


    Les mouchoirs accroches au mur tiennent pour moi la place entre torche et torchon.

    Rot c'est comme un papillon qui va se poser sur chacune des nuances de la couleur rouge. [40]

    * * *

    Return to Protocol Index

    Protocol XI:

    Fritz Fränkel: Protocol of the Mescaline Experiment of 22 May 1934.


    Walter Benjamin. 22. 5. 34.

    At 10 o'clock receives 20 mg. Merck Mescaline subcutaneously in the thigh.

    The first reaction time is characterized,above all,by the prevailing mood. After 10 minutes an alteration in the mood of the subject's situation occured, in the sense of dissatisfaction. F[ränkel] leaves the room, which has been darkened, for a brief period of time, and W[alter] B[enjamin] remains alone by the open window.

    At F[ränkel]'s return, he describes his impression from the window with the following words: "Were one, like a dead man, to feel a longing for any beloved object from one's earlier life, this window for example, then it would appear as it does so now to me. The lifeless objects in one's presence can awaken a longing which one ordinarily recognizes only at the sight of a person one loves."

    In the following period of time the subject's displeasure becomes, first of all, considerably more aggravated. This was outwardly expressed in seemingly irregular motor symptoms like restless wallowing in self-reproach [sich-umher-wälzen], erratic movements of the arms and legs. B[enjamin] crumples into the couch of himself [gibt ein Knautschen von sich], bemoans himself and his state of affairs, and the indignity of it. He speaks of it as "impertinence". Attempts a psychological diversion of the impertinence; characterizes it as the "misty world of the emotional states" ["Nebelwelt der Affekte], meaning that the emotional states [Affekte] in an earlier stage of life have not been sharply distinguished yet, and that what one later characterizes as ambivalence constitutes the rule; he also speaks about the wisdom of impertinence in an attempt to draw closer to the same phenomenon, explaining that the true foundation of impertinence is the child's displeasure that it cannot conjure. The first experience that the child has with the world is not that the adults are stronger, but rather that it cannot conjure.

    During this time, subject develops a terrific degree of sensitivity to acoustic and optical stimuli. At the same time, criticism is expressed that the experimental conditions are unfavorable. Such an experiment ought to be successful in a palm grove. Otherwise, the dosage he received was said to be too negligible for B[enjamin]: a train of thought that surfaces again and again throughout the course of the experiment, and which eventually allowed irascible indignation to become expressed.

    In the course of checking his pulse, B[enjamin] reveals himself to be terrifically sensitive to the slightest touch. (Pulse itself unchanged.) In the course of the discussion about sensitivity, the phenomenon of tickling acquires a powerful significance. Attempt to explain tickling as approaching a person a thousandfold, laughter as defense.

    An observation that is connected to other innervations and to another world of objects makes its relationship to a deeper stage of the rausch known. Otherwise it becomes continually modified throughout the course of its duration. This transformation of the subject's constitution makes itself apparent primarily in observations about caressing, hemming and combing. This mode of behavior becomes more or less connected to the essence of the mother. Caressing: to undo what's been done, to cleanse life in the river of time. It is the proper rule of the mother. Combing: the comb in the morning is alone what drives the dreams out of the hair. Combing is also a mother's work. (The stepmother combs with a poisoned comb: Snow white.) There is also solace in the comb, and an undoing of what's been done. Then the hemming: here the mother's observation devolves upon the child: the hemming of the child, its dalliance: it unravels the fringe from personal experience, plaits it; hence the child dallies. One could well name dalliance the best part of his feeling of happiness. Eventually the masculine comes to the fore in contrast to this world, becoming symbolized as a trellis. "For the hem lies flat, and the trellis stands."

    With eyes shut tight, subject denies seeing the appearance of colorful images. Instead, B[enjamin] sees something ornamental before him, which is described as ornamentation fine as hair. It recalls somewhat the ornamentation which can be found on Polynesian oars. Ornamental tendencies also make themselves evident in the conversation. Test subject gives a brief example of this: in this context the refrain was characterized as the patterned hem of a song.

    B[enjamin] himself draws attention to the fact that when he lights a match, his hand looks thoroughly waxen to him.

    The light is switched on and Rorschach blots are laid out. For the time being, they are rejected out of hand as insufferable.

    "That is the same ticklishness."

    In the meantime, the mood of sulkiness and disinclination arises ever anew. B[enjamin] himself now calls for the Rorschach blots again in order to get over it.

    VII [41] is interpreted as a 7 standing on a 0. (As before, the images are once again rejected with the remark: "I've already rejected that earlier." VII is described as having aesthetic value. As F[ränkel] draws it somewhat closer, test subject says: "Not any closer! I dare not touch it. If I touch it, I can't say anything more." To clarify his interpretation of the 7 standing on the 0, B[enjamin] takes a sheet of paper and writes "7 stands upon the 0." A long period of time unconnected to the Rorschach blots now follows. There is a creative writing game which begins with the subject's observation that his handwriting is childlike.

    The interpretation of II is given next as: Yakut women who are touching one another; I is seen as two poodles, the one in the foreground disappearing as a third poodle comes into view.

    VII a r grey-blue: Pelican-lamb, a woolly little sheep. The lullaby sketch is connected to this interpretation. B[enjamin] draws attention to the embryo form. Embryo forms recur within the drawing. [See figures 1 and 2].

    III is interpreted as four Fates [Parzen]. The written sketch illustrating the essence of witches in separate words is connected to this interpretation. [See figure 3].

    Renewed darkness. Peculiar hand positions occur in the course of the next test period, which marks the deepest stage of the rausch. The reclining subject stretches out his forearm, his hand spread out with the fingers slightly bent. Now and then the position alternates with the hand held upright. These respective positions are often held for long periods, up to ten minutes. B[enjamin]'s important discussion about understanding catatonic behavior is related to the observation of this phenomenon. Test subject interprets the nature of catatonia on the one hand and elucidates it on the other with respect to particular constellations of mental images present at the time. He next calls attention to the fact that, upon opening his eyes, he was surprised to discover that his hand was actually in a different position than he had supposed. He adds to these words a very curious explanation of his more or less magical influence upon the V.L. [Versuchsleiter, test director]. He says, to wit: "The actual position of my hand is completely different from what I am conscious of, which you can read from the expression on my face. There arises for you such a terrific tension between my facial expression and my body posture that this tension exerts a magical power over you." A brief example from the catatonic's constellation of mental images [Vorstellungskreis, also "ideational sphere"] follows: "My hand," says the test subject, "is now just as much a town fountain as it is the Queen of Sheba. It has a pedestal where one can write whatever one wishes as a memorial:

    Diese Hand ist allerhand.

    Meine Hand ist sie genannt."

    [This hand is out of hand.

    My hand is what it's called] [42]

    The actual interpretation of catatonia is now the following: the test subject compares the fixed position of his hand to the outline of a drawing, which a draftsman has plotted once and for all. Just as it is possible for the draftsman to continually change his figure into something new, or give it new nuances by making innumerable alterations in the hachure, by the same token it is possible for the catatonic person to change the constellation of mental images associated with the catatonic behavior by making miniscule alterations in the innervation. The extraordinarily economic nature of this procedure represents a gain in pleasure. This gain in pleasure is a matter of importance to the catatonic person.

    A particular gesture made by the test subject sparks F[ränkel]'s attention. Subject lets his raised hands, which are not touching, glide from a distance very slowly over his face. The test director explains later that he has simultaneously had the convincing mental image of flying. B[enjamin] explains this to him: these hands draw together the ends of a net, but rather than it being a net just covering his head, it was a net covering the cosmos. Hence F[ränkel]'s mental image of flying.

    Discourses on the net: B[enjamin] proposes a variation on the seemingly insignificant Hamlet-question, to be or not to be: net or mantle [43], that is the question here. He explains that the net represents the night side and everything in existence that makes us shudder. "Shuddering," he explains, "is the shadow of the net upon the body. In shuddering, the skin imitates a network." This explanation was connected to a shudder that traversed the test subject's body.

    When the question was raised whether F[ränkel] could go home, a state of doubt and despair arose. Subject's breathing becomes heavier, there is frequent moaning, violent jerking movements of the shoulder, symptoms which had appeared before in a similar context. F[ränkel] decides to stay, though that changes nothing regarding the test subject's inconsolable sorrow. He calls sorrow the veil that hangs unmoved, longing after a breeze that will lift it.

    A joke is introduced: Elizabeth will not be able to rest in peace until a Förster House has been made out of the Nietzsche Archive. The image of the Förster House is extraordinarily vivid to the test subject. In the course of his report it sometimes appears as school, other times as hell or bordello. The test subject is a hardened and marred post on the wooden railing of the Förster House. In this context he reflects on some sort of wooden carving with animal and ornamental forms, which he explains as the decadent descendants, as it were, of the totem pole. The Förster House resembles something like those red brick structures which adorn the pictorial broadsheets of model [houses] with an especially dark, bloody red. Then, too, it also recalled those structures which are made with stone block-anchors [Anker- Steinbaukasten]. Between the cracks of the bricks grow tufts of hair.

    Besides the net, the Förster House was the most vivid of the mental images. Chamois foot in the Förster House: with the greatest energy, test subject refers to the cockerel and the little hen on the Nußberg [44] ("Nut Mountain"), and to the riffraff where, to be sure, the Förster House would be located.

    Incidental remark: that children can be trusted best with sweets. These sweets reappear to subject's consciousness in the course of a catatonic hand position when subject's hands are described as coated with sugar. In addition to this, the secret of Struwwelpeter [Shock-headed Peter] is to be revealed, but is forever withheld from the test director by ever more solemn pronouncements. (Punishment for the meager dosage.)

    The secret of Struwwelpeter: all these children are impertinent only because no one gives them any gifts. The child who reads him [Struwwelpeter], though, is well-bred because it has received so many gifts already on the first page. A little shower of gifts falls on the first page there from the dark sky. [45] In showers [Schauer, both "shower" and "shudder"], like the shower of rain, gifts fall to the child which veil the world from him. A child must get gifts or else it will die like the children in Struwwelpeter or go kaputt or fly away. That is the secret of Struwwelpeter.

    Among the other observations: Fringe is very important. One discerns weaving according to the fringe. Woolly nonsense.

    Walter Benjamin: Entries to the Same Experiment

    Essence of the Mother: To undo what's been done [Das Geschehene ungeschehen machen]. To cleanse one's life in the stream of time.

    Feminine Work: hemming knotting braiding weaving

    "Net or mantle - that is the question here"

    Shuddering [Schauer] --The shadow of the net upon the body. In shuddering the skin imitates a network. The net, however, is the world net [Weltennetz]: the whole world is captive in it.

    Hemming --the hemming of the child, dalliance: they pull the fringe from personal experiences, braid them together. Therefore the child dallies. "Dilatoriness" --one could call this the best part of the feeling of happiness. First Faust experiences shuddering with the Mothers, then comes the moment when he becomes dilatory. In the midst of his masculine work, the moment surprises him. At that moment, the Mothers fetch him home.

    Two kinds of fabric: vegetable, animal. Tufts of hair, tufts of plants. The secret of hair: on the borderline between plant and animal. Between the cracks of the Förster House grow tufts of hair.

    The Förster House: (she has made a Förster House out of the Nietzsche Archive) The Förster House is made of red stones. I am a post of its railing: a marred, hardened pole [Ständer]. [46] But that is no longer a totem pole, only a pitiful copy of it. Chamois foot or horsehoof of the devil; a vagina symbol.

    Net, mantle, hem and veil. Sorrow, the veil that hangs motionless and longs after an exhalation that will lift it.

    Ornaments delicate as a hair: These patterns, too, come from the world of weaving.

    Poem to the hand: This hand/ is of every hand [47] / my hand / is what it's called. It has a pedestal where one can write whatever one wishes as a memorial. It is not located in the place where I believe it is. The hand of the catatonic person and his desire: with a minimal change in innervation he combines the maximum amount of change in mental images. This conservation is his desire. It is like a draftsman who has plotted the outline of his drawing once and for all time and now extracts new pictures from it by means of a million continually new hachures.

    Impertinence [Ungezogenheit, "ill-breeding"] is the displeasure of the child regarding the fact that it cannot conjure. His first experience with the world is not that the adults are stronger but that he cannot conjure.

    The desire that is connected to all of that lies hidden in the coming-feeling of the phases.

    The secret of Struwwelpeter: These children are all impertinent only because no one gives them any gifts, and that is why the child who reads him is well-behaved, because it receives so many gifts already on the first page. A little shower of gifts falls there from the dark night sky. Thus does it rain incessantly in the world of childhood. In veils, like the veils of rain, gifts fall down to the child, which veil the world from him. A child must get gifts, or else it will die like the children in Struwwelpeter or go kaputt or fly away. That is the secret of Struwwelpeter.

    * * *

    Return to Protocol Index

    Protocol XII:

    Walter Benjamin: Undated Notes


    First absolutely trifling disappointment at six sharp. A coach passes by with chains. Two stone-pines seem to be frisking about together.

    A certain relaxation.

    Were I to speak, everything would probably be more lucid, for so much is kindled in self-love.

    Tun ist ein Mittel zum


    Betrachtung ist ein Mittel

    Wachzubleiben. [48]

    What quiet is.

    More magnanimous in rhythms

    The path of the departed person is the soul of the conversation they led.

    Still the same world - and yet one has patience

    The imagination becomes civilizing -

    Ach, if only I had the Merry Wives of Windsor again

    Im berliner Nebel

    Gottheils Berliner Märchen:

    Oh braungebackne Siegessäule

    Mit Nebelzucker in den Wintertagen

    Französische Kanonen überragen

    Mein Fragen

    Barbarossa 1771 [49]


    I have seen how one can fish in the earth when one's hidden in the grass

    Every image is a sleep for itself

    je brousse les images [...]

    * * *

    Return to Protocol Index



    [1] The Potemkin anecdote from Alexander Pushkin's Anecdotes was used twice by Benjamin: at the beginning of the essay "Franz Kafka" (Schriften II, p. 196f.) [Trans.: see "Franz Kafka" in Illuminations, by H. Zohn, Schocken Press, NY, 1969, pp. 111-112] and in the story "Die Unterschrift" ["The Signature"] in Prager Tagblatt 5. Aug. 1934 and Frankfurter Zeitung 5. Sept. 1934. It can also be found under the title "Potemkins Unterschrift" ["Potemkin's Signature"] in Ernst Bloch's Spuren.

    [2] Walter Benjamin, Ursprung des deutschen Trauerspiels, hrsg. von Rolf Tiedemann, 1969, S. 78 [See Origins of German Tragic Drama, trans. by J. Osborne, London: New Left Books, 1977, p. 83 ].

    [3] Compare "Der Spaziergang" ["The Stroll"]: "Mit zweifelndem Flügel/ Wiegt der Schmetterling sich über dem rötlichen Klee." ["With doubting wing/ The butterfly sways above the red clover"].

    [4] With regard to Benjamin's interest in graphology, see Gershom Scholem's Walter Benjamin: The Story of a Friendship, trans. by Harry Zohn, NY: Schocken, 1981, p. 27.

    [5] Trans. note: Betrachtung [Meditation] was published by Rowohlt in December of 1912.

    [6] Trans. note: Bloch is referring to Novalis's Die Lehrlinge zu Sais (1802).

    [7] Trans. note: The term aufheben has acquired a particular importance in the dialectical philosophies of Hegel and Marx. The English cognate "sublate," a term from chemistry has been used by some translators. The philosopher,Walter Kaufmann, translated it "sublimate" in his translation of the Preface to Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit. The term aufheben means to cancel, destroy and preserve. In the oversimplification of dialectics as thesis-antithesis and synthesis, the synthesis both cancels the antitheses and preserves them in a spiral-like movement, whether it be in the Hegelian sense of the movement of concepts towards Absolute Spirit or in the Marxian sense of the dialectical evolution of economic formations.

    [8] The Vossische Zeitung carried in its title the Prussian coat of arms, the shield of which depicted two half-nacked, muscle-less standard-bearers leaning against one another in a symmetrical stance.

    [9] A Prussian town northeast of Wittenberg, [Trans.]

    [10] Alfred Graf von Waldersee (1832-1904), Prussian field-marshall, commander-in-chief of the European forces in China during the Boxer Rebellion .

    [11] Refers to Benjamin's protocol.

    [12] Palmström: a volume of nonsense verse by Christian Morgenstern published in 1910. Palmström is a character who appears throughout the poems.

    [13] Translator's Note: It should be noted here that Dr. Ernst Joël had been a friend of Benjamin's ever since both of them were in the Youth Movement. In this context, it is worth quoting from Benjamin's "A Berlin Chronicle":

    "There in a back wing of one of the houses standing nearest the municipal railway viaduct, was the "Meeting House." It was a small apartment that I had rented jointly with the student Ernst Joël. How we had agreed on this I no longer remember; it can hardly have been simple, for the student 'Group for Social Work' led by Joël was, during the term in which I was president of the Berlin Free Students' Union, a chief target of my attacks, and it was precisely as leader of this group that Joël had signed the lease, while my contribution secured the rights of the 'debating chamber' to the Meeting House. The distribution of the rooms between the two groups - whether of a spatial or a temporal character - was very sharply defined, and in any case, for me at that time only the debating group mattered.

    My consignatory, Ernst Joël, and I were on less than cordial terms, and I had no inkling of the magical aspect of the city that this same Joël, fifteen years later, was to reveal to me. So his image appears in me at this stage only as an answer to the question whether forty is not too young an age at which to evoke the most important memories of one's life. For this image is already now that of a dead man, and who knows how he might have been able to help me cross this threshold, with memories of even the most external and superficial things."

    [Walter Benjamin, "A Berlin Chronicle" in Reflections: Essays, Aphorisms, Autobiographical Writings, ed. by P.Demetz, trans. by E. Jephcott, NY: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1979, pp. 16-17].

    [14] Benjamin probably did not participate in the experiment referred to here.

    [15] This protocol has apparently been lost.

    [16] Trans. note: Gustav Glück was a director of the foreign department of the Reichskreditgesellschaft [Reich loan association] in the years before Hitler. Concerning his friendship to Benjamin, see Gershom Scholem's Walter Benjamin: The Story of a Friendship, NY: Schocken, 1981, pp. 179-180, 231.

    [17] Trans. note: Erich Unger (1887-1952) had been part of the Neopathetisches Kabarett and the circles surrounding the modern German kabbalist Oskar Goldberg. See Scholem, op. cit., pp. 96-97, 108.

    [18] Gert Wissing, wife of Egon Wissing, Benjamin's cousin. [Trans.]

    [19] Trans. note: Benjamin's wording, "stürmische Bildproduktion" conceals a pun which the English could more readily convey by translating this phrase as "cataclysmic production of icons". Bilderstürmer (iconoclast) and Bilderstürmerei (iconoclasm) are obviously implied here.

    [20] Trans. note: A nonsense word. Zwerg is the German word for "dwarf". "Haupel" is apparently made up, but could be suggested by "Häuptel", the head of a plant or "Häufel" a colloquial diminutive form of Haufe, a pile or heap.

    [21] Trans. note: Peter Altenberg (1862-1919): Austrian poet and early librettist for Alban Berg.

    [22] Trans. note: Eukodal (also Eucodal or Percodan), known technically as Dihydrohydroxycodeinone Hydrochloride "is a white crystalline powder derived from codeine, used widely in Europe. It is used similarly to codeine and morphine, but is much stronger than codeine therapeutically (dosage 3 to 5 mg) as well as in addiction liability." (D.W. Maurer & V.H. Vogel, Narcotics and Narcotic Addiction, (4th ed.), Springfield, Illinois: Charles C. Thomas Publisher, 1973, p. 80).

    [23] Trans. note: Literally, "Eastern help", national subsidies to maintain the bankrupt Junker agriculturalists east of the Elbe.

    [24] Trans. note: A play on the words schnappen [to snap] and Schnaps.

    [25] Trans. note: Untranslatable word play. Zopper is a dialect form of Zopf (braid, pigtail, tress) and a colloquial word for rausch, as in the expression "einen Zopf heimschleifen" (to be drunken).

    [26] Trans. note: English unfortunately cannot replicate the onomatopoeia in this letter-permutating word play. Literally: "Waves splash -- Coats of arms swell". The mirror-images of water and heraldry are reflected in the German, in which the words of the verse are brilliant mirror-images of one another.

    [27] Trans. note: "Zip-" probably derives from Zipolle , onion, shallot ( Lat. cepula, little onion; Yiddish: tsibele).

    [28] Trans. note: This is a nonsense word which would translate literally as "running saw game"

    [29] Trans. note: Refers to Max Wertheimer, the Gestalt psychologist.

    [30] Trans. note: Alfred Kubin (1877- 1959), Austrian Expressionist artist.

    [31] [See Horace, De arte poetica, V, 139.] Trans. note: trans. by H.R. Fairclough as "Mountains will labor, to birth will come a laughter-rousing mouse!" in Horace, Satires, Epistles and Ars Poetica, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1978, p. 463.

    [32] Trans. note: Yiddish, plural of amorets, an ignoramus. In the German text the word is spelled Amarazzim.

    [33] Trans. note: Untranslatable word play. The German stillgeschreibt is meant as a play on stillgestanden (the command "Attention!") where the verb is not "to stand" at attention but "to write" [schreiben] to a standstill.

    [34] Trans. note: "Voräffen" [vor- (pre- or fore- ) and äffen (mock, mimic, monkey) ] is Benjamin's invention as a word play on nachäffen, to ape [nach- (after) + äffen].

    [35] Trans. note: It is quite possible that Benjamin is humorously alluding to an article by Ernst Joël, "Beiträge zur Pharmakologie der Körperstellung und der Labyrinthreflexe" (1925), which discusses the results of hashish experiments with dogs and cats, and is mentioned at the end of Joël and Fränkel's article on " Der Haschisch-Rausch" (1926). Benjamin had opened his "Hashish in Marseilles" with a long quote from Joël and Fränkel's article.

    [36] Trans. note: Wilhelm Frick (1877-1946) was the first elected Nazi official in Germany, becoming Minister of the Interior in Thuringia (1930-1931) and National Minister of the Interior under Hitler (1933-1943). He was found guilty by the Nürnberg tribunal and was executed for "crimes against humanity". Frick was in the news in April 1931 (perhaps in the very newspaper Benjamin perused), having provoked the ire of conservative parties, who revoked his introduction into Thuringia of Nazi school prayers, anti- jazz laws, and an academic chair in racial "science".

    [37] Trans. note: Tempelhof Field was then and still remains the site of Berlin's airport. At this time it was also the site of one of Germany's first film studios, built between 1910-1914.

    [38] A pun on the autobiographical novel Asmus Sempers Jugendland [Asmus Sempers Land of Youth] by Otto Ernst.

    [39] According to Rolf Tiedemann and Hermann Schweppenhäuser, the editors of Benjamin's Gesammelte Schriften, the editor of the Suhrkamp edition of Benjamin's Über Haschisch [On Hashish], Tillman Rexroth, had not been familiar with the word, 'crock'. In GS VI: 824 they cite Jean Selz's explanation of the word as follows: "The word crock does not exist in German and must have been enigmatic to the reader of the Rexroth edition of 1972. In fact, it is merely a slightly Germanized form of the French 'croc' (hook). Of course, the meaning we gave it had nothing to do with this. It was both an absurd and secret expression for opium. A few friends who smoked had discovered the expression. I got it from them and imparted it to Benjamin. We didn't know where special use of the expression had it its orgin. It's possible that it derives from a sympathy with the vocabulary of Père Ubu (in Alfred Jarry's Ubu Roi), who frequently speaks of his 'croc à phynances'. The orthography employed by Benjamin corresponds exactly to the way we had expressed the word (in French the 'c' at the end of the word is silent). - The word 'fête' as well,which is used in 'Crock Notes' in its French form, belonged to our particular language: it by no means designates a festival, but rather solely the sessions during which we used 'crock." [Trans. by S.T.]. According to V.H. Vogel & D.W. Maurer's Narcotics and Narcotics Addiction (Springfield, Illinois: Charles C. Thomas Publisher, 1973, p. 401), 'crock' is defined as "an opium pipe" and "the bowl of an opium pipe."

    In his editorial notes to the 1972 edition of Über Haschisch, Tillman Rexroth had stated that 'Crock Notes' most likely " refer to a particular experiment which took place in 1932 in the house of Jean Selz in Ibiza. It is precisely this experiment which is probably referred to in the following passage from an undated letter of Benjamin's to Gretel Adorno:

    "When the evening had arrived, I felt very sad. Nonetheless I detected that rare state of mind in which internal and external oppressions counterbalance one another quite precisely, so that a mood arises in which one is perhaps actually responsive to being comforted. This struck us as being practically a sign, and after the long, expert and precise arrangements, to which one attends so that no interruptions occur during the course of the night, we began work around two o'clock. Chronologically speaking, it was not the first time, but in terms of a successful outcome, it was. The assistants, who demand a great deal of attention, were shared between us, so that each servant and service rendered seemed more receptive, and the conversation worked its way through the assistants like threads in a Gobelin [tapestry] tinting the sky, weaving through the battle depicted in the foreground. [Paragraph] What this conversation was about or what reasoning propelled it along is something I am unable to convey to you in a concept. But when the transcripts of subsequent sessions have reached a certain degree of exactitude and been combined with others in the dossier you're familiar with, the day will arise when I shall gladly read one or two aloud to you. Today I've reached considerable results in the exploration of curtains --- for a curtain separates us from the balcony which looks out over the city and the sea."

    [40] "To me, the [red] handkerchiefs occupy a space between 'torch' and 'torchon' [Fr. 'cloth']. Rot is like a butterfly alighting upon each shade of the color red." See the comments by Jean Selz regarding these observations.

    [41] Trans. note: Roman numerals here refer to the particular Rorschach blot in question. In this psychological testing introduced by Hermann Rorschach in 1921, the test subject's psychological make-up is evaluated according to his description of what he/she sees in ten separate ink blots.

    [42] Trans. note: The German allerhand has the meaning of "of all sorts or kinds" as well as "too much", "the limit", as in "das ist ja allerhand!" (that's really too much!).

    [43] Trans. note: Mantle in the sense of the Weltenmantel, or World-mantle, a concept related to the "world-soul".

    [44] Trans. note: A reference to Vom dem Tode des Hühnchens, one of the fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm.

    [45] Trans. note: The word "shower" (Schauer) also means "shudder" and is connected to the earlier passage on "the net". Furthermore, this passage on Struwwelpeter is would appear to underscore Benjamin's fascination with Kabbalah. The gifts falling from the dark sky suggest the individual letters of black ink on the page, seen kabbalistically as angel messengers bearing gifts of light.

    [46] Trans. note: the German word Ständer is not only "pole" but also a vulgar term for "penis". The final word of this paragraph underscores the sexual innuendo here.

    [47] Trans. note: The German allerhand ("of every sort" & "too much" , "the limit") must be distinguished from aller Hand ("of every hand"). Benjamin's entries are not the same as Fränkel's regarding this point.

    [48] Trans. note: [Doing is a means to/ dreaming/ Observation is a means/ to stay awake].

    [49] Trans. note: [In Berlin fog/ Gottheil's Berlin Fairy-tales/ Oh brown-baked victory column/ with frosted sugar in winter days/ Above my questions spire/ French cannon-fire.]

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