Walter Benjamin's New York

By Peter N. Miller

Notes Continued

Author's Note
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. 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).

Conclusion Notes

Weh spricht: Vergeh!— Suffering speaks: Forget
Doche alle Lust will Ewigkeit— All Joys want deep deep enternity.

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.’—

They are saved through the exhibition of the fissure within them.

There is a tradition that is catastrophe."

Will tiefe, tiefe Ewigkeit - Want deep, deep eternity
Author's Note
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.

Notes Continued >>