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“When Hannah Arendt accepted the Emerson-Thoreau Medal from the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in April 1969, she used the occasion to reflect upon the contributions of one of its namesakes. Because Arendt did not step foot in America until she arrived as a stateless refugee in her mid-thirties, her early exposure to its culture was limited. As a student in pre-war Germany, Emerson was one of the few American authors she read closely. Arendt praised Emerson for being a humanist rather than a philosopher, a serene thinker who “wrote essays rather than systems.” As with the other (rare) occasions in which Arendt dispensed unqualified praise, there was an unspoken subtext of deep personal identification. This is apparent in her conclusion, a long quotation from Emerson describing what for Arendt remained the essence of the humanities:
For though the origin of most of our words is forgotten, each word was at first a stroke of genius, and obtained currency because for the moment it symbolized the world to the first speaker and hearer. The etymologist finds the deadest word to have been at once a brilliant picture. Language is fossil poetry.
Arendt’s project was to recover the original poetry of the words that structure our world, and her devotion to it is responsible for the irresistible force of her prose, which is precise but never clinical, passionate but always lucid. Her writing, so often itself rooted in etymology, is suffused with wonder at the multitudes contained in individual words, the pictures they paint and the worlds they conjure.”
JJ Editor's Daily Picks
"In June 2012, I stood with hundreds of thousands of Mohamed Morsi’s supporters in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, where they prayed that the Egyptian military, still powerful behind the scenes, would allow a fair ballot count. Independent tallies suggested."
"For 246 years our laws supported a system that made people slaves, divided families, and treated human beings as property. And for nearly 100 after Reconstruction, that dark legacy continued with Jim Crow laws throughout the country."
"Iran May Soon Try to Provoke Israel to Gain the Upper Hand..Intelligence assessments suggest that Tehran might initiate a provocation along one of Israel's borders in order to exacerbate the crisis, using one of the groups it operates in the..."
"I haven’t been able to stop thinking about “Striking Vipers.” Black Mirror’s best episodes are about relationships, and how technology can facilitate forms previously impossible in a pre-digital era. That’s why “San Junipero” has remained such a..."
"Facebook has announced a plan to launch a new cryptocurrency named the Libra, adding another layer to its efforts to dominate global communications and business. Backed by huge finance and technology companies including Visa, Spotify, eBay, Pay..."
"RECENTLY, some of my friends have started using their faces to pay for things. Not by charming strangers in bars, but instead by using the iPhone Face ID feature, which has users “glance” at their phone to make a contactless payment. The glance..."
"In April 2013, Austin Cooper followed his boss into what he thought was a work meeting at their engineering firm. Instead, the now 31-year-old Ohio native was met by his family, who were staging an intervention. “It was the scariest moment of my..."
"...two new books give lucid, stimulating accounts of recent discoveries in neuroscience and psychology. Both authors aim to challenge antiquated views of the brain and human behavior. In so doing, they help us think through perennial debates..."
"Corporate parental leave policies are earning their share of headlines: Netflix offers 52 weeks of paid leave, Microsoft offers 22 weeks to birth parents and 10 to those who don’t give birth (and now will only work with companies that offer paid..."
"In the United States, the public panic about the dangers of genetically modified foods is fading fast. This is an amazing—and rare—triumph of reason and science over public hysteria and political posturing. On Monday, for example, the New York..."
"Geneticist Rotem Sorek could see that his bacteria were sick — so far, so good. He had deliberately infected them with a virus to test whether each ailing microbe soldiered on alone or communicated with its allies to fight the attack...."
"Birthright, which has brought over 700,000 young Jews to Israel since 1999, is not a partisan program. It’s not basic training for propaganda wars, Left or Right. It is a Jewish identity-building program offering Israel 101 – a basic introduction.."