History As Progress

December 20, 2006 1:14pm CST
'The Angel of History must look just so. His face is turned towards the past. Where we see the appearance of a chain of events, he sees one single catastrophe, which unceasingly piles rubble on top of rubble and hurls it before his feet. He would like to pause for a moment so fair, to awaken the dead and to piece together what has been smashed. But a storm is blowing from Paradise, it has caught itself up in his wings and is so strong that the Angel can no longer close them. The storm drives him irresistibly into the future, to which his back is turned, while the rubble-heap before him grows sky-high. That which we call progress, is this storm.' - Walter Benjamin What do you guys make of this quote? Does progress and time drive us further away from historical truth? The more we travel into the future the more history become distorted? We can make sense of the immediate past than the distant past? What is the significance of the angel having his back to the future? Does that mean that people pay more attention to the past than they do of the future? Finally i guess my question is that, do people actually learn from the past and this understanding changes the future? Or is history always going to just repeat itself and we are just in a circular type of progress? Just curious becasue I'm reading this book by EH. Carr, and he talks about this very issue?
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