the photograph


if there can be no history without writing and if its true reflection can only be grasped at its point of arrest, then for benjamin historical thinking requires a mode of writing that can remain faithful to this movement of interruption or suspension – that is montage. like the camera it momentarily fixes history in an image, the dialectics of which condenses a network of relations into a momentary freeze frame.  an image that captures a constellation of forces – of past and present, that is held in temporary synthesis. a photographic image written in light and held in suspension. it signals in writing the interruption of writing. montage like its technical form, photography, names a process that, seizing and tearing an image from its context, works to immobilize the flow of history. but in this dialectical image of history we do not see the past made present, as in a flash, but only that which can be recognised and ‘made use of’ in the present. under our present historical condition of decline this image. can only be in a state of suspended animation it is the condition of montage as a technique of twentieth century capitalist modernity to be intrinsically bounded by it. it is simultaneously both constructive and destructive. at the point it brings the past into focus it must destroy it. but to make it useful in the now.