Thoughts on “The Three Escapes of Hannah Arendt” by Ken Krimstein

So a while back, I said that I was going to be changing the format of the blog and just posting quotes instead of sharing my thoughts. Well, as you have likely surmised, I have gone back to my original format. There were a couple reasons why I went full circle:

  • I discovered that posting quotes regularly did not really take that much less time; in fact, I think I spent even more time, since I felt compelled to post more often.
  • My daughter was all excited because she Googled something by Umberto Eco and one of my blog posts was the top Google search result.

Anyway, I figure I will write when I can, and not sweat it if I get too busy to write. That said, my thoughts on this book.

I came across this at a community center where there was a table of free books (a dangerous thing for a bibliophile). Most of the books were of no interest to me, but this one immediately caught my attention. While in college, I had read Hannah Arendt’s masterpiece of political theory, The Origins of Totalitarianism. The book was one of those that left a strong and lasting impact on me. I cannot tell you how many times I have observed the behaviors of political leaders and listened to their words, then thought back to Arendt’s book. Essentially, she wrote the book on totalitarianism. The term did not exist until she coined it.

The Three Escapes of Hannah Arendt is a biographical graphic novel. It provides a witty overview of Arendt’s life, how she fled Europe during World War II, established herself as a political theorist and philosopher, and eventually went on to become the first woman to be appointed full professor at Princeton University.

While most of the book tells the story of Ms. Arendt’s life, it does briefly summarize some of her political ideas.

As fire lives on oxygen, the oxygen of totalitarianism is untruth. Before totalitarian leaders can fit reality to their lies, their message is an unreeling contempt for facts. They live by the belief that fact depends entirely on the power of the man who makes it up.

(p. 167)

The graphic novel quotes Arendt as saying, “Whatever I do, I am simply unable to avert my eyes from the reality of the world around me.” (p. 126) I feel the same way. It is impossible to ignore what I see going on in the world. And if you ever read The Origins of Totalitarianism, you will also not be able to look at the behaviors of political leaders the same way again.

Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to share in my musings. I hope you find these posts interesting. If so, please let me know. As long as there is interest, I will do my best to keep writing.


Filed under Literature, Non-fiction

11 responses to “Thoughts on “The Three Escapes of Hannah Arendt” by Ken Krimstein

  1. Hi Jeff, I had no idea she coined that term – interesting! And it is rearing its ugly head yet again.
    About blogging, for me the decisive argument for doing it is that it helps me to clarify my thoughts on a given subject and still gives me joy. I like the fact that I do not have to do this.
    Glad to see you back

    • Hi Monika. Thank you for your comment. You are one of the most inspiring people I’ve gotten to know through blogging and I completely agree about clarifying thoughts through writing. It is almost like writing helps to give form to the ideas that reading stirs within the subconscious mind. And as far as totalitarianism rearing its ugly head again, sad but true. But what is most disturbing is the sheer number of people willing to support these individuals. A totalitarian is nothing without supporters. Anyway hope you and yours are well. Stay safe.


    • Yes! For myself I often find I don’t know what I think (well, maybe more at how I think, but those two things are close) until I try to write about it.

  2. Great to have you back writing Jeff! No worries man whenever u take a break it’s ok as we will still be here!
    Stay safe Bro

    • Thanks Deke. How is the concert scene up there? Things are picking up here. Got a couple good ones coming up soon 😄

      • The concert scene here is no scene. lol Each province has different rules so no one is touring but the American band BuckCherry is touring all of Canada come this October. See if that happens and I think Genesis is playing Toronto and Montreal and thats it

      • Buck Cherry!? I am pretty sure I saw them open for someone, but clearly they did not leave much of an impression – lol. Saw Genesis in the 80s. Meh. I prefer the earlier stuff with Peter Gabriel. Actually saw Gabriel solo and he was way better than Genesis. Had the killer stage show and played everything you would want to hear. Anyway, stay safe!

  3. Hi Jeff, although the quote posts are appreciated, your writing and sharing of your own thoughts and experiences are even more appreciated.

    Although I haven’t been writing for blogging, the joy of writing remains as something that often reveals to me further insights beyond the books that I read.

    • Hi Debra. Thanks for you kind words. You always provide thoughtful comments and when you do write a blog post, it is always interesting. Hope you and yours are all happy and healthy. Many blessings 😀

  4. Hi Jeff – I’ve enjoyed both formats, but I’m happy to read whatever you put out there. That’s interesting that the quote format didn’t take less time, making you feel like you needed to do more.I haven’t read Hannah Arendt. I’m glad you’re out there willing to explain!