quarta-feira, 6 de março de 2013

“Kafka reversed Benjamin's image of the angel of history: the angel has already arrived in Paradise - in fact he was there from the start, and the storm and his subsequent flight along the linear time of progress are nothing but an illusion he creates in the attempt to falsify his knowledge and to transform his perennial condition into an aim still to be attained. It is in this sense that the apparently paradoxical thought expressed in the "Reflections on Sin, Pain, Hope, and the True Way" should be understood: "There is a goal, but no path; what we call the path is only wavering," and "Only our concept of Time makes it possible for us to call the day of the Last Judgment by that name; in reality it is a summary court in perpetual session [Standrechty]."  For man it is always already the day of the Last Judgment: the Last Judgment is his normal historical condition, and only his fear of facing it creates the illusion that it is still to come. Kafka thus replaces the idea of a history infinitely unfolding along an empty, linear time (this is the history that compels the Angelus Novus to his unstoppable run) with the paradoxical image of a state of history in which the fundamental event of the human condition is perpetually taking place; the continuum of linear time is interrupted, but does not create an opening beyond itself.  The goal is inaccessible not because it is too far in the future but because it is present here in front of us; but its presence is constitutive of man's historicity, of his perennial lingering along a nonexistent path, and of his inability to appropriate his own historical situation. This is why Kafka can say that the revolutionary movements that declare null and void everything that has happened before are right, because in reality nothing has happened yet. […] In the face of this paradoxical situation, asking about art's task is the equivalent of asking what could be its task on the day of the Last Judgment, that is, in a condition (which for Kafka is man's very historical status) in which the angel of history has stopped and, in the interval between past and future, man has to face his own responsibility. Kafka answered this question by asking whether art could become transmission of the act of transmission: whether, that is, it could take as its content the task of transmission itself, independently of the thing to be transmitted. As Benjamin understood, Kafka's genius before the unprecedented historical situation of which he had become aware was that he "sacrificed truth for the sake of transmissibility." Since the goal is already present and thus no path exists that could lead there, only the perennially late stubbornness of a messenger whose message is nothing other than the task of transmission can give back to man, who has lost his ability to appropriate his historical space, the concrete space of his action and knowledge.”

(Giorgio Agamben. The Man Without Content)

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