The Copernican revolution in historical perception is as follows. Formerly it was thought that a fixed point had been found in “what has been,” and one saw the present engaged in tentatively concentrating the forces of knowledge on this ground. Now this relation is to be overturned, and what has been is to become the dialectical reversal, the flash of awakened consciousness. Politics attains primacy over history. The facts become something that just now first happened to us, first struck us; to establish them is the affair of memory. Indeed, awakening is the great exemplar of memory: the occasion on which it is given us to remember what is closest, tritest, most obvious.
Walter Benjamin, Arcades K1,2 p. 388-9
Waking up, one is always disoriented. Locating the “self” as a method of organizing the world glimpsed through cloudy eyes is foolish. Likewise, understanding the past through catastrophe, war, or instrumental figures seems futile. The past does not organize itself around catastrophe; each actor moves onstage impelled by multiple forces. Memory, like history, seems largely involuntary and nondiscursive. I seldom remember words or images when I wake; I locate myself by feel relative to the earth.
These phenomena cannot be explained by circles concentric with the earth. Therefore, since there are many centers, it will not be by accident that the further question arises whether the center of the universe is identical with the center of terrestrial gravity or with some other point. For my part I believe that gravity is nothing but a certain natural desire, which the divine providence of the Creator of all things has implanted in parts, to gather as a unity and a whole by combining in the form of a globe. This impulse is present, we may suppose, also in the sun, the moon, and the other brilliant planets, so that through its operation they remain in that spherical shape which they display. Nevertheless, they swing round their circuits in divers ways. If, then, the earth too moves in other ways, for example, about a center, its additional motions must likewise be reflected in many bodies outside it.