When you invent the ship, you also invent the shipwreck

There is a painting by Klee called Angelus Novus. An angel is
depicted there who looks as though he were about to distance
himself from something which he is staring at. His eyes are
opened wide, his mouth stands open and his wings are outstretched.
The Angel of History must look just so. His face
is turned towards the past. Where we see the appearance of
a chain of events, he sees one single catastrophe, which unceasingly
piles rubble on top of rubble and hurls it before his
feet. He would like to pause for a moment so fair [verweilen:
a reference to Goethe’s Faust], to awaken the dead and to piece
together what has been smashed. But a storm is blowing from
Paradise, it has caught itself up in his wings and is so strong
that the Angel can no longer close them. The storm drives him
irresistibly into the future, to which his back is turned, while
the rubble-heap before him grows sky-high. That which we call
progress, is this storm.

How does one define the future, how to care for
it? How much do we participate in the making of
our future or to which extend do we just let things
happen? Letting things happen is, according to
Benjamin, the definition of catastrophe. However
a ‘catastrophe’ does not necessarily mean the end,
as Louis Marin writes, ‘catastrophe is the sublime
way to open a neutral space, one that is absolutely

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June 26, 2017