Hannah Arendt

Hannah Arendt is a film one should see. It’s slow the way stories about ideas can be, but that doesn’t mean it’s tedious or boring. Arendt’s reportage of the Eichmann Trial focuses on the “why”. It’s the eternal struggle to understand, maybe even rationalize why people can brutalize others. Arendt’s analysis is disciplined and unemotionaI. In watching the movie, I wondered how much of that came from her German roots, the tightly held-in persona, sardonic and affectionate, but not too affectionate.

Barbara Sukowa who portrays Arendt doesn’t really look like her, but she manages to give a convincing interpretation of who Arendt might have been. Strong, driven, realistic (love the line she gives: “You have to accept men as they are, or resign yourself to being alone”). Her life in New York is rich in friends; her apartment lined with books, her husband both loyal to her and unfaithful, with her acquiescence.

Arendt understands firsthand the guilt of survival. Her experience in Gurs was deeply embedded in her psyche.

I don’t know why but after I saw the movie, I went back and read a few passages from Amos Oz’s “A Tale of Love and Darkness”. One of my favorite passages is when the 6-year-old Amos finally gets a space for his books in one of his father’s bookcases and is taught by his father that books can be arranged by subject, by alphabetical order of the authors’ names, by series or publishers, by languages or even by place of publication. Oz calls it the secret of diversity. Like life.

Of course, this is more possible with physical books that can be touched, arranged, rearranged, read and re-read. There is a realness to them that is lacking in ebooks.

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