Civilizational Collapse: Dystopian Imaginings of the Past,
Present, and Future (1880 – Present)
Ahuvia Kahane: The Jewish Ruin
There is a distinctive Jewish relationship to the ruin, different from that in Greek and Roman and modern cultures. Whereas in Classical cultures the ruin is a flat and lost place (Troy) barely discoverable, in Jewish thought the ruin is present. The ruin carries with it the memory of the violence of its destruction. But the memory of destruction on destruction becomes a way of constructing the past. Benjamin’s Angel of History looks back on history as ruin upon ruin, and destruction on destruction. But instead of this being a series of ends, it is a fundamental means in which Jewish time is constructed. Absence is central to the story of repeated ruination that is at the centre of Jewish time. In a continuous looking backwards through the sequences of destruction, the future is a forbidden object of speculation. Yet in the continuous process of ruination there is also a continuous prospect of the emergence of the messianic moment. Redemption is in the potential of destruction.