Saturday, 15 January 2022


Overheard while walking with Hay (while I was listening to something on my hidden earbuds - under my beanie):

Hay: "Mumble, mumble mumble." Or at least that's all I hear.

Me; "Yes."

Hay; "Look at me!"

Me - I look at her.

Hay; "Do you remember Pam?"

Me; "Yes."

Hay; "You don't, do you?"

Me; "No."

For Christmas, Hay bought me a book called Between Past and Future, by Hannah Arendt, a political philosopher of the 20th century. She attended the trial of Eichmann in Israel and coined the phrase; "The banality of evil."

Now I'm no dullard (or so I like to think - others may differ), but I find the book infuriating. I can read a sentence (and her sentences can be quite long and convoluted), but not understand one iota of what she's trying to convey.

I've not come across many writing styles like Arendt's - I can only compare it to the writing of Bertrand Russell on an obtuse day, but if I read a Russell sentence or paragraph twice, I can at least get the gist of what he's trying to say. Not so with Arendt - it remains a mystery, no matter how often I go back and reread a paragraph. Yes, the words are strung together with perfect grammar, but the transfer of the idea or concept into my head is missing. She's trying to convey philosophical concepts in philosophical language. What I need is a master of analogy - like JVT - to put it into understandable concepts.

Nor is her writing style one where you can dip in and out of the book - which is my preferred style of reading (mainly because I tend to fall asleep when reading for more than 20 minutes at a time and prefer to accomplish the task in the horizontal position). It requires constant attention.

So, an annoyingly impenetrable book; so impenetrable that I can't be bothered to persevere beyond page 49. I'd love the opinion of any other readers of Arendt's work.

I'm also reading a book about the history of the Hittites. That's also proving difficult, but for an entirely different reason - the names of the Hittite kings, a) are unpronounceable, and b) all start with an H. This results in me confusing the names of the kings and entirely mucking up the timeline. 

No comments: