The angel of history

Image(Image via

The ninth thesis of German critical theorist Walter Benjamin’s essay “Theses on the Philosophy of History” reads, in part:

A Klee painting named Angelus Novus shows an angel looking as though he is about to move away from something he is fixedly contemplating. His eyes are staring, his mouth is open, his wings are spread. This is how one pictures the angel of history. His face is turned toward the past. Where we perceive a chain of events, he sees one single catastrophe which keeps piling wreckage upon wreckage and hurls it in front of his feet. The angel would like to stay, awaken the dead, and make whole what has been smashed. But a storm is blowing from Paradise; it has got caught in his wings with such violence that the angel can no longer close them. The storm irresistibly propels him into the future to which his back is turned, while the pile of debris before him grows skyward. This storm is what we call progress.

I am no angel. Fittingly (with the my generation’s degeneracy of smarm balefully intact in the inversion that follows), I will attempt in these writings to do something other than gawk into the storm of progress and its casualties. I have been dead, I have watched dearly held things smashed as we all have watched, and I wish at least to observe proper rituals for ideas and events even as all of society implodes into an ecumenical straitjacket. None of us can see all things at once to arrive at incontrovertible truth relationships. However, the more I see, the better chance I have of pulling from the wreckage a cogent view that may mean something to someone, or at least to myself. And as I remain remarkably ignorant of satisfaction or restraint, I will endeavor to see as much as possible in addition to pulling my hardest.

More prosaically, I am starting a personal blog to record my questions and assessments over time, that I may, if I am lucky, see which ones were presicent. I have a (fill in your own adjective, likely pejorative) and obstinate faith that I can synthesize information in worthwhile ways, so I may as well allow the rubber to meet the road. Or, au meme:

Get excited, ’cause it’s gonna get weird.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s