Hannah Arendt: Life Is a Narrative (Anglais) Relié – 13 janvier 2001
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Lazy stadium night, Catfish on the mound,
"Strike three" the umpire said,
Batter have to go back and sit down.
There are three chapters in HANNAH ARENDT, and the third has 219 notes. Basic statistics on how much Julia Kristeva is merely educating herself in public by providing a reading from Arendt's books might be obtained by counting the Ibid.s. Counting backwards, I found 133 Ibid.s in the notes for Chapter 3, including my favorite note:
"99. "Letter to the Romans 7:21, drafted between 54 and 58 a.d., cited in ibid., p. 64." (p. 268).
A lot of the books I read lately keep trying to tell me when the Bible was written, but I never noticed it in a note before. Usually my favorite notes are about Nietzsche, like:
"123. Ibid., p. 165, citing Nietzsche, THE GAY SCIENCE, no. 310"
"126. Concerning the `forgetting' that Nietzsche revives see p. 237; and Paul Ricoeur, paper presented at the Hannah Arendt Conference at the Grande Bibliotheque de France, December 6, 1997."
"128. Ibid., pp. 169-70, citing Nietzsche, THE WILL TO POWER, no. 585 A, pp. 316-19."
`131. LM, "Willing," p. 172, citing Nietzsche, THUS SPOKE ZARATHUSTRA, pt. 3, "Before Sunrise." '
`187. Ibid., citing Nietzsche, "The Use and Abuse of History," pp. 6, 7.'
"189. Ibid., citing Nietzsche, THE GENEALOGY OF MORALS, p. 61"
`192. Ibid., pp. 63, 72-73 ("even in old Kant: the categorical imperative reeks of cruelty").'
Nietzsche wrote such things about Kant, and it is a bit difficult to imagine that Kristeva and Arendt would associate such ideas with the great weight of the past if Nietzsche hadn't made this connection first. Understanding philosophy is a process that can be compared to intellectually building a rehash of old, familiar plays, as if it is about something like a baseball game, which has an umpire who gets to decide when an easy pop fly is an infield fly rule call that makes the batter out, but the umpire does not have time to say anything until after it is all over when a triple play picks off the runners before they have a chance to tag up if the pitcher ducks under a line drive that gets caught right on second base before anyone has time to react, but a quick shortstop snagged the ball out of the air and flipped it to first in the only instant in which that could happen. Kristeva is capable of interpreting political science as an activity best understood in terms of the philosophy of Nietzsche:
"To the `identical will' that forges the solidarity of a group, Arendt contrasts the way men who are connected to one another through a mutual promise `act in concert.' These men dispose of the future as though it were the present, and they live together in the miraculous enlargement of what Nietzsche called the `memory of the Will,' which is what distinguishes human life from animal life. As Arendt evokes Nietzsche's concept, she hears only the joyful touches of the superman and denotes not a trace of Nietzsche's disdainful tone." (p. 236).
Still counting backward, I find 102 Ibid.s in the notes for Chapter 2 and only 52 Ibid.s in the notes for Chapter 1. The Introduction only had two notes, on a wide variety of topics, but both related to the nature of "genius." When political opinion surveys offer a few sample views to encompass the political orientation of the great mass of the population, only a genius could be expected to have a ready answer to questions like "Will mothers become our only safeguard against the wholesale automation of human beings?" (p. xiii). The Introduction actually seems more suited for a triple biography, as "The three women who are the subject of this work" on page xv includes two women who are hardly mentioned in the three main chapters of HANNAH ARENDT. It does not add much to understanding this book to also learn "that Melanie Klein devoted herself to studying decompensation." (p. xvii). But in considering who else has been brilliant, it pays to have some comic relief. Among the French, who must understand comedy as well as any people anywhere, it might even be popular to declare:
"Colette's only real rival would prove to be Proust, whose narrative search has a social and metaphysical complexity that goes well beyond the adventures of Claudine and her counterparts. And yet Colette far surpasses Proust in the art of capturing pleasures that have never been lost." (pp. xviii-xix).