Hannah Arendt on the T-word

And by the T-word I mean totalitarianism, of course.

Before they seize power and establish a world according to their doctrines, totalitarian movements conjure up a lying world of consistency which is more adequate to the needs of the human mind than reality itself; in which, through sheer imagination, uprooted masses can feel at home and are spared the never-ending shocks which real life and real experiences deal to human beings and their expectations. The force possessed by totalitarian propagandabefore the movements have the power to drop iron curtains to prevent anyone’s disturbing, by the slightest reality, the gruesome quiet of an entirely imaginary worldlies in its ability to shut the masses off from the real world. The only signs which the real world still offers to the understanding of the unintegrated and disintegrating masses whom every new stroke of ill luck makes more gullibleare, so to speak, its lacunae, the questions it does not care to discuss publicly, or the rumors it does not dare to contradict because they hit, although in an exaggerated and deformed way, some sore spot.

–Hannah Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism

If you have not read this book, this is an excellent time to read it. It has important insights not only on the workings of terror and totalitarianism–as above–but on the horrors of the plight of refugees in the modern world.

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Writing Beautifully About Nazis: The Strange Failures of All the Light We Cannot See

Anthony Doerr’s body of work is filled with characters who have extraordinary gifts. In his earlier novel About Grace, a man could dream the future. In his short story collection The Shell Collector, people were gifted with everything from metal-eating to speaking with the dead. In his most recent work, the Pulitzer-prize-winning World War II novel All the Light We Cannot See, a young German boy has a preternatural ability to work with radios. And if Doerr himself has a near-magical gift, it is that of spinning sentences that each have the lush beauty and soft sheen of a perfect pearl—a gift on full display in All the Light We Cannot See.

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