“Human plurality, the basic condition of both action and speech, has the twofold character of equality and distinction.” Arendt sets plurality as the foundation of her understanding of man as a political being. According to plurality, we are all equal, which means we can understand each other and those ancestors who came before us and those will come after us. And yet, as distinct, we need to seek to make ourselves understood.
Jill Lepore writes about the literature of epidemics, looking back at great works about plagues by Daniel Defoe, Mary Shelley, Edgar Allan Poe, Jack London, Stephen King, Albert Camus, and Jose Saramago. What all plague literature shares is, first, the knowledge that the plague threatens the human world, that is “cuts away the higher realms, the loftiest capacities of humanity, and leaves only the animal.”
The German Museum of History prepared a wonderful new exhibition on Hannah Arendt that was supposed to have its opening this week.
Before the Corona pandemic we were already facing a loneliness epidemic. And now, with mandatory self-isolation, many are worried about what kind of impact this enforced aloneness will have for individuals. Hannah Arendt draws an important distinction between solitude and loneliness.
Kate Bracht turns to Hannah Arendt to find a silver lining to our need to be by ourselves during the Corona Virus pandemic. We are all increasingly spending more time by ourselves. One answer is to reach out for companionship through on-line dinner parties and courses.
In the recent podcast on Arendt, Freedom, and Protest on the Political Theory Podcast, host Toby Buckle asks Roger Berkowitz why Hannah Arendt is so loved today. One answer comes from Jeremy Clarke who writes about his love affair with Hannah Arendt’s thinking, which he first encountered on a BBC radio show In Our Time.
Arendt Center Founder and Director Roger Berkowitz speaks with Toby Buckle in the Political Theory Podcast on Arendt’s idea of freedom and protest. The conversation includes discussions of constitutionalism, lottery-based citizen assemblies, the revitalization of democracy, and the basic question of “What we are fighting for?”
In the last Amor Mundi Newsletter we linked to an essay by Giorgio Agamben where he embraced a rightly discredited theory that the Corona Virus was not worse than the flu, and that governments were hyping the dangers of the virus in order to justify repression and discipline. Agamben has since recognized his mistake and has now published a follow up called “Clarifications.”
Alex Ross writes about “The Haunted California Idyll of German Writers in Exile.” Bertolt Brecht, Heinrich Mann, Thomas Mann, Theodor Adorno, and Max Horkheimer, among others, found refuge in Los Angeles during the war years, and turned the city into “the capital of German literature in exile.”