Movie exposes misinterpreted Hannah Arendt

 

Hannah Arendt is nowadays praised as one of the most important political theorists and philosophers of the 20th century, something that seem inconsistent with the many reviews her texts about the trial of Adolf Eichmann in 1961 got at the time of its publication. The movie, entitled after her, recounts this episode, from the moment she offered herself to serve as The New Yorker reporter, her thought and writing process and the public’s response to the publication of her article and, later, book.

It is fascinating when somebody theorizes her own life experiences, or the experiences of her own generation, objectively. A sensible point of view, avoiding the danger of simplifying events, is something hard to conquer, and in her case, hard to advocate. Many people seemed to think Arendt was making excuses for Eichmann’s behavior, and consequently for the nazis behavior as a whole, when in reality she was reporting the perception Eichmann had of his own actions. He portrayed himself as a bureaucrat, someone who was merely following orders and not necessarily understood the consequences of what he did daily while working for Hitler’s government. From his perspective, all he did was sign documents and follow orders. Adolf Eichmann, according to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum website, was responsible for several deportation proceedings, including the transportation of over 1.5 million Jews from all over Europe to killing centers located in occupied areas of  Poland and the Soviet Union while working for the Clearing Activities division of the Gestapo between 1940 and March 1941.  As a result of the trial held in Jerusalem, Israel, in 1961, Eichmann was found guilt and sentenced to death. He was hanged in June, 1962, his body was cremated and his ashes were spread at sea, beyond Israeli waters.

Many of Arendt’s friends and fellow scholars expected a jewish woman and a concentration camp survivor to be more emphatic on his active responsibility in regards to the numerous deaths. Not only that, they never expected she would public blame part of Jewish leaders for their participation on the persecution of their own people, being known some gave valuable information on other Jews to nazis in exchange for their personal protection.

For so many reasons, Hannah Arendt is a must-see. From the recount of a historic episode to the discussion of philosophical, academic and scientific standards her work stand for, it is impossible to leave the room without reflecting about World War II, the banality of evil, to use Arendt’s phrasing, and what sort of changes society went through since 1940. Ultimately, it makes us think about the past that shaped what the world is now and it leaves us questioning the notion that we would learn from our mistakes, since ethnic and religion differences are still factors for crimes against humanity nowadays.

* A friendly reminder for those who don’t appreciate captions: Hannah Arendt is not an american movie, but most of it is spoken in English.

#GipsyFeelings

IMG_0476

Moving to different countries and states brings a very specific mix of feelings, from extreme enthusiastic anxiety to deep self doubting despair. It all starts with the notion that you can do it, it won’t be a challenge, on the contrary, it is a change much needed. New opportunities ahead, new horizons, a clean slate, a fresh fresh start. Its all very exciting, you can feel butterflies on your stomach, you research everything you can about the new city and you start to believe it is way better than the place you live now. Sometimes that is totally the case, but after moving you also realize that you might have been too hard on your criticisms and too enthusiastic on your praise.

The first time you visit, if you’ve never been, is as awesome as you would expect. Maybe better. Each restaurant or bar discovery is treasured, you start picking your favorite local spots and soon your choices will give hints of your taste, your social persona, your identity. It is very cool to see the neighborhoods with tourists eyes, get to know them, form an opinion and choose your new home accordingly. Having local tips, reading local news and blogs always helps.

20140522-131108-47468335.jpg
Packing is always a hustle. The troubling thing is, most of the time, we decide we need to take with us more stuff than we actually need. It is a good opportunity to let some things go, maybe that old high school jeans that doesn’t fit anymore, the one you keep just to make sure you stay on your diet. It helps a little bit, but no results so far, years have gone and the button still doesn’t close. Let it go!

Lastly, as moving day comes around the corner, you get that rush of worries: what if it doesn’t work out? What if I don’t fit in? What if I can’t find a job or make new friends? What if? Truth is, “what if’s” are conjunctures we conceive when we take risks, when we fear the consequences and doubt our decisions. There’s no way we can know if all the “what if’s” will become reality, not unless we decide to live, face the challenges and the fears. That might not be easy, but for some reason you thought a change was necessary, so stick to your instincts and give it a try. It might actually surprise you!

Expats Social Networking through Internations

 

20140515-132747.jpg

 

In April me and my husband moved from Ohio to North Carolina. Being an expat, I didn’t feel it was a big change. Of course we would have to adapt to a new city, get to know new people, make new friends, but that was nothing I didn’t had to do before. I knew I had everything it takes to go through with it once more.

This time, though, I felt I needed to be more engaged in creating a network of expats, people in the same situation as me, who would understand what it feels like to not speak your mother tongue for weeks, who appreciate skype, whatsapp and all the modern technologies that help you soothe that homesick feeling that catches you by surprise now and then.

I found out about Internations, the expat social network, and their monthly reunions through a google search. I signed up, talked to a few people online asking directions and tips of what to do. It was very nice getting to know the parts of Charlotte they lived and loved.The monthly meetings take place every last thursday of the month. There were europeans, south americans, chinese, us citizens. People from everywhere. Many accents, many nationalities, one thing in common: the experience of living abroad in the same city.

The first, and only, meeting I attended took place in April, just two weeks after moving. It felt good being able to talk and share experiences, but it was particularly good to be able to talk in Portuguese for a few moments. Sometimes, having to speak English all the time, makes me forget how much of language, and more specifically our mother tongue, shapes our view of life, our identities. For instance, in Portuguese we have a particular word to express that feeling of longing and missing for something or somebody, which is “saudade”. A word that I can’t really explain or translate to English in a satisfactory way, I always feel like I am simplifying its meaning. As a human emotion, we all must share the feeling that word describe, but I always wondered if the fact that we Portuguese speakers had a particular word for it meant that we had the necessity to use language to further determine our feelings. Thoughts of a linguistic mind.

On a different note, the meeting was a great step for networking in Charlotte. Having contacts in different companies and jobs is vital for a journalist who is trying to find her way into business. I met an older american guy who had many talents, amongst them being a life coach. He advised me to meet as many people as I could that night, and to create a plan of action that would help me get back on track. One of my first thoughts was how much I missed writing on this blog the last few months, which as you guys can see brought me back with new posts, new ideas. I can’t wait for next meeting, on the 28th. What else will it bring my way?