WALTER BENJAMIN REFERENCES

Jon Beasley-Murray jpb8 at acpub.duke.edu
Thu Jul 27 20:52:18 MDT 1995


"...all rulers are the heirs of those who conquered before them.  Hence,
empathy with the victor inevitably benefits the rulers.  Historical
materialists know what that means.  Whoever has emerged victorious
participates to this day in the triumphal procession in which the present
rulers step over those who are lying prostrate.  According to traditional
practice, the spoils are carried along in the process.  They are called
cultural treasures, and a historical materilist views them with cautious
detachment.  For without exception the cultural treasures he surveys have
an origin which he cannot contemplate without horror.  They owe their
existence not only to the efforts of the great minds and talents who have
created them, but also to the anonymous toil of their contemporaries.
There is no document of civilization which is not at the same time a
document of barbarism.  And just as such a document is not free of
barbarism, barbarism taints also the manner in which it was transmitted
from one owner to another.  A historical materialist therefore
dissociates himself from it as far as possible.  He regards it as his
taks to brush history against the grain."

	"Theses on the Philosophy of History."  _Illuminations_ Ed.  and
with an Intro. by Hannah Arendt.  New York: Schoken Books, 1968.  256f.

This isn't a bad place to start with Benjamin, also.  This book also has
the famous "work of art" essay.

Take care

Jon

Jon Beasley-Murray
Literature Program
Duke University
jpb8 at acpub.duke.edu
http://jefferson.village.virginia.edu/~spoons


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