The Triumphal Procession

Murray, Soraya
ROMchip: A Journal of Game Histories

On the subject of history, Walter Benjamin once said that “there is no document of culture which is not at the same time a document of barbarism.” For me, this expresses not only the idea that history is littered with violent disputes and wars, or even simply that history is the winner’s version of a story. It is also about how, in the writing of histories, violent erasures go on in the process of constructing the very ground upon which the telling of subsequent historical versions becomes possible. Historicism, as Benjamin characterized it, operates as a triumphal procession of not only present rulers, but all past rulers, holding aloft their venerated cultural treasures, while trampling beneath them those they have bested. Could history be more than a dirty palimpsest of brutality? And can those being trampled upon do more than sink their teeth into the ankles of the victors, hoping to leave some bloody marks?