Tuesday, May 23, 2006

"for whom pictures are paradise"

Children's books do not serve to introduce their readers directly into the world of objects, animals, and people, into so-called life. Rather, if anything remotely similar to Platonic anamnesis actually exists, it would take place in the lives of children, for whom pictures are paradise. By remembering, they learn; what you put into their hands should have, insofar as human hand can impart it to paper, the color of paradise, just as a butterfly's wings have their patina. Children learn in the memory of their first intuition. And they learn from bright colors, because the fantastic play of color is the home of memory without yearning, and it can be free of yearning because it is unalloyed. In that sense, the Platonic anamnesis is not quite the form of memory specific to children. For it is not without yearning and regret, and this tension with the messianic is the exclusive effect of genuine art, whose recipient learns not from memory alone but from the yearning that it satisfies too soon and therefore too slowly.
-Walter Benjamin

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