the hegelian angel



Commentary on a new interpretation of Walter Benjamin's concept, the “Angel of historyólaugh”.

"Angelo Nuovo. La Kabbalah racconta che Dio crea ad ogni istante un numero sterminato di nuovi angeli, tutti destined to loosen up to sing per un attimo le sue lodi delle davanti al suo throneo del prima di dissolversi nel nulla. Il mio era stato interrotto in tale compito: i suoi tratti dele non avevano alcuna sembianza umana.” (Adelphi, Walter Benjamin and il suo angelo).

On the first of May, in Neue Zürcher Zeitung, Professor Luca di Blasi, from Switzerland, published an essay on Benjamin's “angel of history”, with two bombastic revelations. The first: the angel of history represents theology, a horizontalization of Luther's “theology of the cross”. And the second: Benjamin's angel represents a re-theologization of what Hegel callsVerweilen beim Negativen“, at the beginning of phenomenology of specírite, that is, dwell on the negative.

That is to say, hidden in the Angelus Novus, Klee's painting (1920), is Martin Luther, “the Reformer”. The author says that when Benjamin bought Klee's painting 100 years ago, it became the allegory of his philosophy of history (About the concept of history, thesis no. 9, 1940), he did not know that the figure of Martin Luther was hidden on the Klee painting.

What, therefore, would be the novelty of Angelus Novus? Therefore, 100 years ago, after the First World War and at the time of the Spanish Pandemic, the question was asked: “where is God?”. This, according to Luca, is Luther's theology of the cross. In meditation on the cross, the hidden God is revealed and the crucified becomes the messiah, the Christ, and the history of the world comes to an end.

What was theology in Luther becomes, in the Lutheran Hegel, the demand to face the negative: “Dieses Verweilen ist die Zauberkraft, die es in das Sein umkehrt“. This stopping is the magical force that occurs in being. For the author, the angel of Benjamin's story corresponds to the theology of the cross. The victims of history in place of the crucified and the negative.

Benjamin uses the same term (stayilen) in the 9th thesis, he could stop, not wake the dead and gather the beaten. In Benjamin, however, history seems to be stronger than in Hegel, for the storm we call "progress" carries us into the future, and the angel turns his back on the past.

Benjamin, by re-theologizing the Hegelian-Marxist concept of dialectical negation, accentuates a pessimism in relation to the victims of history that are not found in the original optimism. In this sense, the hidden figure of Luther seems to be inspiring, the “lutherus absconditus".

Some questions the author, with his erudition, could certainly add to this brilliant essay: what is the relationship between “stayilen” by Goethe and stopping by Hegel, both coexisting and arising at the same time?

In the 1933 essay “Agesilaus Santander”, Benjamin himself gives a mystical interpretation of the angel of history. In Kabbalah, he says, angels are created ephemerally, just to sing hymns during the daily toil in the temple, and when they finish singing the song, they die. That is, angels are “angels of destruction”. As Benjamin says of his name, "When I was born under the sign of Saturn [the planet of melancholy], two angels were sent: a man and a woman." Agesilaus Santander, anagram of Angelus Satan, the dispute between the devil and Lilith.

The theme of stopping is also the subject of an essay by Konrad Burdach on Faust and Moses, in which he refers to the healing of Moses before his death, which is in the Epistole of Judas. Martin Heidegger cites Burdach in Sein und zeit, but fails to elaborate the theme of healing from these biblical angelological roots, after all, Martin Heidegger was not Martin Luther, who knew the “Hashem-Ameforash” (the ineffable name of God).

*Ari Marcelo Solon is a professor at the Faculty of Law at USP. Author, among others, of books, Paths of philosophy and science of law: German connection in the development of justice (Prisms).

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