Between part and whole: Benjamin and the single trait

Samuel Weber*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


This text, which is part of a project, 'Toward a Politics and Poetics of Singularity', explores the implications of a phrase used more or less simultaneously, although independently, by Walter Benjamin and Sigmund Freud, 'the single trait' (der einzige Zug). In his 1962 lectures on the problem of identification, Jacques Lacan focused on this phrase in Freud in order to exemplify the difference between the subject and the signifier. The use of the phrase by Benjamin in his essay on 'Destiny and Character' inflects the discussion toward questions of 'comedy' and 'tragedy', and thereby links the singularity of the signifying process to literary and theatrical forms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)382-399
Number of pages18
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2009


  • Character
  • Comedy
  • Genius
  • Politics
  • Singularity
  • Theology
  • Tragedy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts
  • Literature and Literary Theory


Dive into the research topics of 'Between part and whole: Benjamin and the single trait'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this