Ethics, Æsthetics, Ecology, Education

Readings for Now

Image source: Paul Klee,  Angelus Novus

Image source: Paul Klee, Angelus Novus

“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.  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.  The 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.”

 Walter Benjamin, "Theses on the Philosophy of History,” Illuminations, trans. Harry Zohn (New York: Schocken Books, 1969), 249.

One of the most powerful things we can think of doing at this critical time is to read, and read together, thinkers who can help us make sense of what is happening now—Arendt, Adorno, Benjamin, Agamben, and others.  We join all those calling for a return to education not as the delivery of information but as a civilizing, enculturating, collective project based on the ideals of truth, justice, and sanity.  We are calling this contemporary series “Readings for Now.”

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