15 June 2013
Hannah and Her Brethren
It had to have been a rather shrewd decision of the publisher of the New Yorker to choose to send a political theorist/philosopher to provide reflective coverage of a war crimes trial, instead of going with the obvious journalist approach. I suppose that is in the nature of the particular publication and the time…not news as quickly as you can get it, but more analysis of what the events in the world mean in a larger sense. I think this is probably something that we have lost, perhaps forever, in the immediacy of our means of communications. We still get opinions, but they seem to be the products of little reflection and even less thought.
I have never read Eichmann in Jerusalem, but I am sorely tempted to undertake that task now. If that is the measure of the success of the film, then it worked. The analysis that ended in her coining the term “the banality of evil” is brilliant (I’m sure she was waiting for my assessment of that) and worthy of consideration in the context of our own current governance issues. Hiding behind procedure as a means to avoid having to think and analyze seems even more widespread now.
In the film, we see the strong negative reactions to that very short criticism: stacks of hate mail, lost friends, threatening colleagues. But we also see the steadfastness of the publisher and the loyalty of other friends to a brilliant woman applying a dispassionate analysis to a highly emotional subject. Very much worth seeing.