This article investigates the relationship between the figure of the collector and the figure of the historical materialist in Walter Benjamin's writings. Holt contests readings of the collector that present him either as political strategist par excellence or as regressive, apolitical, and anticritical. Holt argues instead for a dialectical understanding of the collector's conflicting tendencies that both prevents us from making claims about the collector's active political engagement on behalf of a changed future and offers us insight into a task that is necessary for critical reflection: bringing loss to consciousness. Holt claims that acknowledging past losses not only is the starting point and core of any attempt to change the present but also is the extent to which the activity of collecting can contribute to the goal of political transformation.

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