We had an excellent discussion at Jeff Malpas’s colloquium for the department (a draft of his paper is here) yesterday about Arendt and the place of thinking, while also mentioning in the background the back-and-forth between Richard Wolin and Seyla Benhabib concerning Arendt’s Eichmann in Jerusalem, with the former conflating Arendt’s claims about the banality of evil and any supposed “banality” of the Holocaust. Malpas’s piece interweaves his rereading of Arendt to suggest she is more a topological thinker than her claim that thinking occurs “nowhere” would suggest, while borrowing a bit from Peg Birmingham’s recent work (which in turn influenced my own chapters on Arendt in The State of Sovereignty) on natality. Malpas was focused on The Life of the Mind, though of course the better work to go through in terms of place is The Human Condition and contemporaneous writings, which is where natality appears and where she thinks place (not space) in terms of the polis and the spacing of plurality. But it does bring out a tension between the later work and the earlier, late 50s writings that I don’t think can be resolved.
In any case, for those around St. John’s: Jockey discussion starting at 5pm at the Peter Easton pub, with pizza after, and a reception down at my place afterwards. Here is the paper Jeff will be discussing.