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. This 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." (Thesis IX)
Multi-Media Essay Notes To help bridge the space between art and scholarship
each author has put together a series of notes to
his and her film.
These include the voiced-over words of Benjamin
(Narration) with appropriate
citation, other text where appropriate, and a discussion of the author's
intent (Author's Note).
spricht: Vergeh!— Suffering speaks: Forget
Doche alle Lust will Ewigkeit— All Joys want deep
Narration What are phenomena rescued from? Not only, and
not in the main, from the discredit and neglect into
which they have fallen, but from the catastrophe reprsented
very often by a certain strain in their dissemination,
their ‘enshrinement as heritage.’—
Narration They are saved
through the exhibition of the fissure within them.
is a tradition that is catastrophe."
Will tiefe, tiefe Ewigkeit - Want deep, deep eternity
Klee’s watercolor, "Angelus Novus" (1921),
was purchased by Walter Benjamin. It served as the inspiration
for a series of meditations on the meaning of history,
both in this passage from Convolute N as well as in the
"Theses on the Philosophy of History." Benjamin’s
use of the painting has inspired much critical commentary,
but Benjamin’s own words are the clearest:
"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.