The Words We Live By: Poetry and Philosophy in Conversation04-05-2019
On March 26th the Hannah Arendt Center and the Poetry Foundation hosted the inaugural event for the Words We live By: Poetry and Philosophy in Conversation series at Murray’s Sanctuary in Tivoli, NY. Over the course of two hours, Fred Moten, Robert Gooding-Williams, and Ann Lauterbach shared new work and discussed democracy, race, beauty, love, Hannah Arendt, and judgment. Thank you to everyone who came.
The phrase “words we live by” comes from the end of Hannah Arendt’s book On Revolution. Turning to the poet and French resistance fighter Rene Char, Arendt wrote that “the storehouse of memory is kept and watched over by the poets, whose business it is to find and make the words we live by.” The language of poetry is, for Arendt, what remained after the war, as a record of experience that could provide a sense of durability in the world, and as a form of thinking that could lead us away from the tyranny of ideological thinking, toward a reckoning with the world as it is. Throughout her career the language of poetry remained at the heart of her political and philosophical writing, as a form of thinking that could bring illumination in dark times. For Arendt, no less than for us, this darkness encompasses political, social, economic, and ecological strife, mass homelessness, and loneliness. It is in that spirit, with a similar belief in the potential of poetry that the Arendt Center in collaboration with the Poetry Foundation conceived this new initiative, inviting poets and philosophers to come together in conversation.