From the Pages of the New Yorker

Fiction, satire, non-fiction, short fiction and poetry.
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flag this list (?)
187 books · 51 voters · list created February 19th, 2010 by Amy Wilder (votes) .
46 likes · 
Lists are re-scored approximately every 5 minutes.


Amy Wilder 593 books
139 friends
Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large) 546 books
471 friends
Anna 197 books
10 friends
Reese 1100 books
123 friends
Vanessa 4751 books
362 friends
Susanna - Censored by GoodReads 3161 books
832 friends
Antoine 949 books
176 friends
Thom 6023 books
308 friends

More voters…


Comments Showing 1-12 of 12 (12 new)

dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Reese (last edited Feb 19, 2010 03:34PM) (new)

Reese Because I haven't read Arendt's EICHMANN IN JERUSALEM, I am prepared to be enlightened by and to have my attitude toward the book changed by those who know the work. In the meantime, I want to post a note about the reviews that have prompted me to express my hope that voters will not select EICHMANN IN JERUSALEM(with or without clarifying afterthoughts). On the basis of reviews, I have, rightly or wrongly, concluded that implicit in Arendt's work is a view that reduces an individual's responsibility for his/her actions and shrinks the sea where the evil swim to the size of a puddle. If readers can offer evidence that will change my attitude toward the book, I hope that they will share the information. Rdbot(Reese)


message 2: by Thom (new)

Thom Dunn Well, your objection is framed as a metaphor , one I'm not quite picking up on. I read Denmark and the Jews , and I've been hearing about The Benality of Evil for so long I thought it was Gospel, but I want very much to hear about your objections to Arendt in detail. L, Thom


message 3: by Reese (new)

Reese Hey T,
If I were Catholic, would I say that I'm committing a venial sin: writing/speaking before knowing enough to comment? If the subject weren't the characterization and labeling of Eichmann, I would probably admit to being guilty of "lashon hara." But when it comes to Nazis (and those who "understand" them), I break the rules. So I'm writing about a book that I haven't read -- and frankly, don't want to read. I did read numerous reviews posted by Goodreads members, most of whom appreciated the book (even if they complained about the author's writing style). Many who recognized the risks associated with the widespread use of the term "the banality of evil" still seemed to consider Arendt's work valuable and impressive. But again and again, I saw complimentary reviews indicating that Arendt presents Eichmann as an ordinary just-following-orders type of guy and that somehow people whose evil deeds are not the result of evil thoughts and plans don't belong in the same category as the monsters who masterminded the evil design. There were a few reviews that SEEMED to provide sound evidence of Arendt's lack of objectivity. Allusions to the controversy that EICHMANN IN JERUSALEM created and Arendt's attempt to address objections to her claims and conclusions also fueled my fear that, regardless of Arendt's intentions, her work could easily be used, not just to explain, but to excuse evil actions.

I hope that I have clarified my concerns about the content of the book. Thanks for expressing interest in my comments.

Your fan, Reese


message 4: by Lobstergirl (new)

Lobstergirl Can we add the memoirs of New Yorker writers/editors/staffers to this list?


message 5: by Lobstergirl (new)

Lobstergirl Reese wrote: "Because I haven't read Arendt's EICHMANN IN JERUSALEM, I am prepared to be enlightened by and to have my attitude toward the book changed by those who know the work. ...If readers can offer evidence that will change my attitude toward the book, I hope that they will share the information."

I think the only thing that can change your attitude toward the book is to read the book. How can you critique the book from an uninformed position? Even stranger, how can you request that other people not vote for the book? Reading the book will either change your mind, or not. If it fails to change your mind, your suspicions and fears will be confirmed and you will be able to write a nasty review (which I would look forward to reading). At the very least, you will have gained some knowledge and awareness.


message 6: by Reese (new)

Reese You're right -- reading the book would indeed add to what I know ABOUT the work.

I would like to mention that I did not "request that other people not vote for the book." I expressed a "hope," and I expressed concerns. Should GR members not feel free to voice opinions that are based only on disussions/reviews/analyses of books?


message 7: by Lobstergirl (new)

Lobstergirl Anyone should feel free to express whatever opinion they choose. But it's hard to take seriously someone expressing deep fears and suspicions of a book from only secondhand information and others' opinions.


message 8: by Reese (last edited Jul 03, 2010 09:23AM) (new)

Reese I do not expect you to take what I write seriously. In fact, I have no expectations of you -- hopes perhaps -- but no expectations. Why would I? We do not know each other.

Because many grad school professors care less about their students' understanding of great works of literature than about their familiarity with analyses/criticism of the literature, I know that there ARE people who do not dismiss the comments of those who have read, not the work, but works about the work. If I had waited to take my writtens until I had read every book that I might need to write about, by the time I passed them, I would have been -- to borrow a few words from a song in A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC -- "ninety and dead."

If you have never revealed -- or even developed -- an attitude toward a book that you have not read, I salute you. If, on the basis of reviews, you have never advised a friend not to see a particular play or movie, I'm -- well -- amazed. I will never be able to make those claims.


message 9: by Lobstergirl (new)

Lobstergirl I don't know why two anonymous people who don't know each other still wouldn't expect to be taken seriously. What do acquaintance or anonymity have to do with anything?

I may develop an attitude or opinion about a book before reading it, but I have no expectation that that attitude or opinion is accurate, until I've read the book. I also think people should read widely, including works they suspect they may disagree with. But you might find you don't disagree with Arendt. Here's a review from Amazon:

A previous reviewer claims that Arendt's book shows the ambivalence of human nature, proving that in effect anybody could have done what Eichmann did. In fact, this is exactly the cynical point of view that Arendt opposes in this, and her other writings. Her argument here is a revision of her earlier position on 'radical evil' advanced in The Origins of Totalitarianism, a position which Heidegger claimed to find 'incomprehensible.' She argues here that banality and "sheer thoughtlessness" (akin to Heidegger's reflections on boredom) are in fact the root of Evil. To put it better, evil continues precisely because of its inherent rootlessness, its constitutive disregard of the world. Thus, the detachment of claims such as "Anybody could have done what Eichmann did" distort her intention. Evil, she insists, is not an inevitable aspect of human nature, but instead arises from an unwillingness to understand.

The most recent edition even contains a "postscript directly addressing the controversy that arose over her account."


message 10: by Reese (new)

Reese I do appreciate your taking the time to present a discussion of Arendt's thesis. While I have not read the book (as you know), I did read assessments and analyses by readers who praised the book and by readers who found it disturbing. We don't disagree about the importance of "reading widely," and I don't avoid material that I suspect will conflict with my views. I admit that I will not BUY a work if my purchase will put money in the bank account of someone whose words and/or actions offend my core beliefs.

When I expressed my hope that GR members would not vote for EICHMANN IN JERUSALEM, I was aware of Arendt's addition to the book. A postscript that is a response to criticism may be a genuine attempt to be understood, or it may be a well-crafted defense of work that the author has a strong interest in promoting. "Oops, I didn't realize how that sounded." How many public figures have tried to "explain" their "misinterpreted" remarks?

If I choose to read the work, it's possible that I will accept Arendt's explanation or that I will smell bullshit. My not having read it is not a statement about Arendt's theory; it's an indication of my preference not to read about the perpetrators of crimes against humanity. My hope that people would not choose to PRAISE her work still rests on the belief that her analysis diminishes an individual's responsibility for his/her actions. Even the review that appears in your message (#9) supports what I have been saying.

We may both take each other seriously -- or not. But not knowing you means that I have no expectations of you. Having no expectations means avoiding disappointment and other forms of injury. If I were to learn that you are not one person, but many; that you are in prison for child abuse; that you are a ghost writer for Salin Palin, so what? I have no expectations that can be violated. This may not make any sense to you, but it does to me.


message 11: by Thom (new)

Thom Dunn Reese wrote: "I do appreciate your taking the time to present a discussion of Arendt's thesis. While I have not read the book (as you know), I did read assessments and analyses by readers who praised the book an..."

You guys are way more cerebral than me--I just read whatever's lying around.


message 12: by Reese (new)

Reese T,

I won't allow myself to expect you to lighten a "heavy" discussion, but your doing so always delights me. Your remarks are much-appreciated gifts.

Oh -- and I imagine that whatever is lying around your place is just about everything.

L,
R


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