I have been finishing books recently. This frees me up to start adding new stuff to my reading. It looks like, I’m going to be on a bit of Hannah Arendt kick for a while. Both Masha Gessen and Ibram X Kendi quoted her in their books which I have finished reading. Arendt has been on my radar for a while.
Her ideas about the “banality of evil” are a basic metaphor that continues to inform my understanding.
In 2011, I purchased a copy of Between Friends The Correspondence of Hannah Arendt and Mary McCarthy edited by Carol Brightman. This is a record of the meeting of two amazing minds, both of which interest me. It’s probably going to go on my current reading stack. I have spent an hour or so with it today.
The Life of the Mind, Arendt’s unfinished volume, is also moving up closer to the front of my current reading. Arendt did not finish it since it was envisioned as having three sections: “thinking,” “willing,” and “judging.” My edition (like the one above) is edited posthumously by Mary McCarthy, another incentive to read their correspondence.
In the introduction to the correspondence, editor Brigthman memorably quotes McCararthy about Arendt: “Thought, for her, was a kind of husbandry, a humanizing of the wilderness of experience.” Wow. I like that.
Another memorable observation comes from Arendt herself in Brightman’s intro: Arendt challenges us to think for ourselves “Not by ourselves—- ‘I always thought that one has got to start thinking as though nobody had thought before, and then start learning from everybody else,’ Arendt once proposed — but for ourselves. Denken ohne Geländer: thinking without a banister, she called it. This was no existential conceit, the banisters are gone.”
“Thinking without a banister.” Again, I like that.
Anyway. I’ve got more, but I’ll desist and take pity on you, dear reader. More new books I’m reading next time.