Sunday, October 4, 2009

Walter Benjamin- On the Concept of History IX

My wing is poised to fly
I would like to turn back
Were I to stay forever
I still would not be fortunate.

- 'Greetings from the Angelus' by Gershon Scholem

There is a painting by Klee called Angelus Novus. It portrays an angel who looks as if he were about to move away from something he is staring at. His eyes are wide, his mouth open and his wings are spread. The angel of history must look just like this. His countenance is turned to the past. Where a chain of events appears before us, he sees one single catastrophe, which unremittingly piles wreck upon wreck and hurls it at his feet. He would like to linger, to awaken the dead and to make whole what has been shattered. But a storm is blowing in from Paradise which has caught his wings and is so strong that the angel can no longer close them. This storm drives him inexorably into the future on which he has turned his back while the heap of debris in front of him piles up towards the sky. That, which we call progress, is this storm.

(Tr. Deborah Marshall)

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