Salvaged from the Ruins: Ken Smith’s Constellations
Walter Benjamin’s ‘Theses on the Philosophy of History’1 observe, famously, that bourgeois historians ‘who wish to relive an era … blot out everything they know about the later course of history’ in ‘a process of empathy whose origin is the indolence of the heart, acedia, which despairs of grasping and holding the genuine historical image as it flares up briefly’. Such a historiography, he says, is ‘the root cause of sadness’:
The nature of this sadness stands out more clearly if one asks with whom the adherents of historicism actually empathize. The answer is inevitable: with the victor.
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- 1.All references to Walter Benjamin in this essay are to his ‘Theses on the Philosophy of History’, in Hannah Arendt. (ed.), Illuminations (London: Collins/Fontana Books, 1973), pp. 255–66. Citations of Ken Smith’s poetry are identified by volume throughout the text.Google Scholar
© The Editorial Board, Lumiere (Co-operative) Press Ltd 1997