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Dialectical Imaginaries: forms of life, forms of fascism in the Metropolis of film, manga and anime


The Japanese animated film “Metropolis” (2001) spliced together two earlier visual narratives sharing its name: Fritz Lang’s famed silent film (1927) and Osamu Tezuka’s early postwar comic book (1949). The paper presents these three tales as instances of what Walter Benjamin referred to as the dialectical image. It examines the imaginary cities offered up by the tales, places them in the context of contemporary urban and political discourses, and relates them to applications of military and police violence over the arc of the last century as understood through the work of Giorgio Agamben. Over the course of this journey, it draws on Benjamin and Agamben to speculate on the intersection between the topologies of the dialectical image and of the state of exception, questioning where that relationship is taking us now. 

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