File spoon-archives/lyotard.archive/lyotard_2001/lyotard.0106, message 3

Date: Fri, 01 Jun 2001 19:41:03 +0100
Subject: Re: History is a nightmare until you take Sominex


Eric and all

Two good history texts to check out -

The history of bombing - Sven Lindqvist - Granta in the UK - excellent and
depressing by turns.

Late Victorian Holocausts - Mike Davis - #

both deeply enlightening

However - as you can see I agree with the below - but 'the end of history'
metaphor is in my view simply bad Hegelianism probably from people who've
never read Hegel or his interpreters...



Mary Murphy&Salstrand wrote:

> Hugh and all -
> Granted that history, as Collingwood and others have pointed out, isn't
> exactly a science.  Still the problem I have with the cynical and
> nihilistic interpretation of history as meaningless is that it plays
> directly into the hands of those who argue that we have now reached the
> end of history - the impasse of a Capitalism Triumphant for which the
> only issues that remain to be decided are the size of the tax cut and
> the development of the cult of the personal.
> We are duly instructed that Microserfs should exit the streets and
> recognize the fruitlessness of their ideological struggles. The only
> question now worth considering is one of private individual success.  If
> this does not satisfy then it might be useful to consider practicing the
> Prayer of Jabez rather than engaging in futile politics.  With God and
> the right attitude, you can have more stuff in this lifetime.  Why
> should I worry about anything else?  And for amusement, there's always
> the history channel with shows in syndication.
> Any conception of the postmodernism as posthistorical remains
> superficial at best.  Even if it is recognized that there are no
> historical laws, no metanarratives, still less the unfolding process of
> historical dialectical materialism, there still remains, at a minimum,
> the task of rewriting modernity, a somewhat Freudian working through of
> the raw materials of historical production.  This struggles against the
> Capitalist appropriation of temporality as merely a series of discounted
> cash flows - the transformation of the past into a commodity to be
> reprocessed and repackaged for distribution onto a world market.
> Lyotard has evoked the immemorial as that which cannot present itself
> and that which can never be forgotten.  I must bear witness to history
> as a sublime event that is encountered and never completing understood,
> but which persists in the memory as both a debt and an imperative.
> Walter Benjamin speaks of "brushing history against the grain."  He
> adds:
> "Thinking involves not only the flow of thoughts, but their arrest as
> well.  When thinking suddenly stops in a configuration pregnant with
> tensions, it gives that configuration a shock, by which it crystallizes
> into a monad.  A historical materialist approaches a historical subject
> only where he encounters it as a monad.  In this structure he recognizes
> the sign of a Messianic cessation of happening, or to put it
> differently, a revolutionary chance in the fight for the oppressed past.
> He takes cognizance of it in order to blast a specific era out of the
> homogeneous course of history - blasting a specific life out of the era
> or a specific work out of the lifework."
> In other words, the Proustian mandeline as a molotov cocktail.



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