MARCH 18, 2012 2:29PM

The Angel of History

Rate: 7 Flag

The Angel of History

“His face is turned toward the past, and where we see a chain of events, he sees a single catastrophe which keeps piling wreckage upon wreckage and hurls them at his feet. The angel would like to stay, awaken the dead, and reconstruct what has been smashed apart, but a storm is blowing from Paradise and it catches the angel’s wings with such violence that he can never close them. This storm irresistibly propels him into the future to which his back is turned, while the wreckage in front of him piles up to the sky. This storm is what we call progress.”

Walter Benjamin, Über den Begriff der Geschichte

Author tags:

walter benjamin, paul klee

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The illustration is an altered version of Klee's Angelus Novus, with cranked-up contrast and saturation, and inverted colors.
The Klee is gorgeous. I'm not familiar with Walter Benjamin but will acquaint myself with him--this is as sure and true a definition of progress as I've ever read. Would that we could see in the same direction.
Cool.

I wasn't familiar with either -- Benjamin or this particular Klee. Interesting inversion of Klee -- and the quote really drives it home.
Well that is one way of looking at it, and a valid one. Hegel, who idolized, indeed anthropomorphized, and even deified
(at the least, certainly reified)
History, called it “the slaughterbench”…



“ a single catastrophe which keeps piling wreckage upon wreckage”?
Catastrophe=
Greek katastrophḗ an overturning, akin to katastréphein to overturn.
Backtwisting, turning……..

progress temporally is indeed
to be considered
"a storm blowing from Paradise ...


and it catches the angel’s wings with such violence
that he can never close them.
This storm irresistibly propels him
into the future to which his back is turned"


Recall that angel.

Send in one with two faces, or four.
Since this is all unknown to me Jacob, I will be happy to learn about all of this.
TY.
Man seemed to progress very well -- until he decided to get civilized.
Hello Jacob..I love Klee's work as well.I hadn't seen this one before.Thank you for sharing..I think that ρrogress is only the down fall of men...in which we forget how to be human..I like your writing..and your sensitivity..It is so difficult to find among us ρeoρle who can relate both to art and ροetry and to sociality...Let us all be angels then...My best regards..
Yes there is a storm coming this way but it is not coming from paradise. it comes from that nether world where both heaven and hell meet and eventually it will scatter the wreckage of the past into the oblivion of the future.