New York reading of Radio Benjamin with editor Lecia Rosenthal and Benjamen Walker
This Thursday December 11, at 7:30pm, Radio Benjamin editor Lecia Rosenthal joins Theory of Everything host Benjamin Walker and Jonathan Mitchell for an evening of reading and discussion of Radio Benjamin at Verso's Brooklyn office. From 1927 to 1933, Walter Benjamin wrote and delivered aproximately eighty broadcasts betwen Radio Berlin and Radio Frankfurt. Radio Benjamin gathers the surviving transcripts, making these available for the first time in English.
As introductions to the assorted texts, The Paris Review and Hazlitt Magazine have printed excerpts from different segments of the book.
The Paris Review reprinted "A Crazy Mixed Up Day", excerpting thirty brainteasers written by Walter Benjamin, including 15 riddles.
The first question is an old German folk riddle: The peasant sees it often, the king only seldom, and God never at all. What is it?
What’s fishy about a barber who hangs an enamel sign in his window reading, “A shave today ten pfennigs, a shave tomorrow free”?
If I have a small circle and then around its center point I draw a circle whose circumference is five centimeters greater than that of the original, this creates a ring between the two circles. If I then take a giant circle, one as big as the circumference of the Earth, and around the same center point I draw another one, whose circumference is five centimeters greater than that of the first giant one, there is then a ring between those two circles. Which of the two rings is wider, the first or the second?
If the clock pendulum swings ten times to the right and ten times to the left, how often does it pass through the middle?
How can a man who is a hundred years old have had only twenty-five birthdays?
What is the quickest way to add up all the numbers from one to 1,000? Try it first with the numbers from one to ten.
A country is surrounded by four other countries, each of which borders the middle country and two of the others. What is the fewest number of colors needed so that each country has a different color than its neighbors?
How do you spell dry grass with three letters?
How can you write 100 using only four nines?
In your ABC’s, which is the middlemost letter?
There are three identical flowers in a field. In the morning, how can you tell which of them has not been there overnight?
If each day a bookworm eats through one volume in a series of books, how long will it take for it to eat its way from the first page of one volume to the last page of the next, provided he eats in the same direction in which the series of books is arranged?
You have a piece of paper with the word money [Geld] written on it. Which two letters can you add to convey a request for patience [Geduld]?
What’s wrong with the logic of a man who orders a piece of cake, exchanges it for another once it arrives, and then won’t pay for the new piece because he claims he traded the old piece for it?
The old riddle once more, whose solution is worth four points because it has now appeared twice: The peasant sees it often, the king only seldom, and God never at all.
And Hazlitt Magazine featured Benjamin's "True Dog Stories" on December 3rd.
To read the excerpts in full click here for The Paris Review [check their site this Thursday for answers to these riddles], and here for Hazlitt Magazine.
You probably think you know dogs. By this I mean, when I read you a famous description of dogs, you will have the same feeling I did when I first read it. I said to myself: if the word “dog” had not appeared in the description, I wouldn’t have guessed which animal it was about; things look so new and special when a great scientist looks at them, as if they had never before been seen. The name of this scientist is Linnaeus, the very same Linnaeus you all know from botany and the man responsible for the system we still use today to classify plants. Here’s what he has to say about dogs:
Feeds on meat, carcasses, farinaceous grains, but not leaves; digests bones, vomits up grass; defecates onto stone: Greek white, exceedingly acidic. Drinks by lapping; urinates to the side, up to one hundred times in good company, sniffs at its neighbor’s anus; moist nose, excellent sense of smell; runs on a diagonal, walks on toes; perspires very little, lets tongue hang out in the heat; circles its sleeping area before retiring; hears rather well while sleeping, dreams. The female is vicious with jealous suitors; fornicates with many partners when in heat; bites them; intimately bound during copulation; gestation is nine weeks, four to eight compose a litter, males resemble the father, females the mother. Loyal above all else; house companion for humans; wags its tail upon master’s approach, defends him; runs ahead on a walk, waits at crossings; teachable, hunts for missing things, makes the rounds at night, warns of those approaching, keeps watch over goods, drives livestock from fields, herds reindeer, guards cattle and sheep from wild animals, holds lions in check, rustles up game, locates ducks, lies in wait before pouncing on the net, retrieves a hunter’s kill without partaking of it, rotates a skewer in France, pulls carts in Siberia. Begs for scraps at the table; after stealing it timidly hides its tail; feeds greedily. Lords it over its home; is the enemy of beggars, attacks strangers without being provoked. Heals wounds, gout and cancers with tongue. Howls to music, bites stones thrown its way; depressed and foul-smelling before a storm. Afflicted by tapeworm. Spreads rabies. Eventually goes blind and gnaws at itself.
Join us in a discussion of these eclectic texts, which will be recorded and form the basis for an episode of Benjamin Walker's Theory of Everything. For more information on the event, click here.