Quote of the Week
In May 2019, a fire destroyed a significant part of the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris. In the two days that followed, individuals and corporations pledged just under a billion Euros toward its repair.This incident hearkened quite directly to Arendt’s invocation of cathedrals as the archetypical example of worldliness, of creating a lasting world that endures beyond the cycles of human need and consumption.
Quote of the Weeks
You’ve seen clips of Greta Thunberg at the U.N. and the Climate Strikers on the streets; you remember how the March for Our Lives movement erupted after the school shooting in Parkland, Florida. When Arendt asked in 1959 whether children were being tasked with changing the world, the Little Rock Nine were enacting the change decreed by Brown vs. the Board of Education. Now, high schoolers are the ones bringing lawsuits and demanding action to bring change.
When Hannah Arendt arrived at the German Literature Archive in Marbach Germany in June 1975 to organize Karl Jasper’s papers, she stood up in the cafeteria and began reciting Friedrich Schiller by heart. She was fond of “Das Mädchen aus der Fremde”, but this is pure speculation. As Arendt said to Günter Gaus in her last interview, she carried German poems around in her hinterkopf. I’d wager she knew more than one.
They came out in the tens of thousands. In London and Paris, Dublin, Copenhagen, Stockholm, Berlin, and others, people marched in the streets. They carried signs and banners, urging governments to do something, anything. “Refugees Welcome,” they said, illustrated with a silhouette of a family fleeing for their lives: a father first, then a mother dragging a child, whose foot trails in the air in the rush. “Bring Your Families,” they said.
Reading Arendt has caused me to consider the generative quality of my own work. All too often I find myself swinging from the narratives of hope to the voice of alarm and despair. From week to week my voice will vacillate between historically informed caution and a pragmatic optimism, which feels to be bordering on faith. Only loosely depending on the news of the day I am either warning people against the reactionary spirit that rises out of labeling our current...
By Richard A. Barrett
Politicians, despite their divergent views and their distaste for each other, share at least this common ground: they believe in the vigorous pursuit and defense of freedom. In campaign speeches and party platforms freedom is one of the most frequently used terms. Freedom is set forth as a goal, as something that goes hand and hand with democracy.
This week, we republish a QotW essay from one of our current students here at Bard College.
In our current political climate, media has exacerbated and publicized social tensions. Mostly these are tensions that have always existed but have not always been issues of large-scale public contention. The proliferation of mass media has led to increased political divisiveness...
Power is indeed of the essence of all government, but violence is not. Violence is by nature instrumental; like all means, it always stands in need of guidance and justification through the end it pursues. And what needs justification by something else cannot be the essence of anything.— Hannah Arendt