I first came across Lauren A. Benjamin when I read one of her papers — a commentary on the writer Bruno Schulz — in connection with her PhD work. I was impressed. She has a blog, where she posts her writings on things that happen to be interesting things:
When I read Benjamin’s work, I find someone who goes farther than what can be inferred from the definition of “scholar” (a well-educated person, who knows a particular subject very well; a person who has done advanced study in a special field).
As I see it, Benjamin’s area of study — Comparative and English Literature — is merely the formal context within which she does more than research, philology, and textual montage toward new conventional insights.
As I see it, Benjamin is a literary sleuth exploring veiled layers of what we call reality. This is big-time stuff, and I suspect that Benjamin must be a rare scholar. When I came across her Bruno Schulz paper, I said to myself: “This is a poet-seer afoot in academia.”
Some poets, even today, write stanzas disquieted with a suspicion of metaphysical textures, of spiritual rumors beneath phenomena and language. Benjamin also seems to intuit a deep condition of Being that allows surreal beauty and fugitive vision to appear in the world. Does the world itself dream? If so, it requires interpreters of its wistful and troubled atmospheres. There might even be a farther Dreamer, whose sighs and symbols made exodus to arrive anciently as Word.
Examining texts and finding salient associations between dead writers or literary eras is one thing; suspecting those writers’ texts and those other eras of harboring allusive clues about a possible spiritual subtext is quite another. The ghosts of time and meaning wait patiently for scholars like Benjamin to come along, scholars who are sensitive and imaginative enough to probe works for other than merely conventional substance.
I see this scholar behatted with an invisible deerstalker and holding a gnostic magnifying glass.
Posted by Tim Buck