Lovepinning the Unprecedented
Updated: Dec 31, 2020
This is the first poem from the Two Sylvias Press December Advent Calendar 2020. Part of a new collection of poems NOCTURNALS. Let's see how it develops as an idea of thinking poetry with theory.
‘In The Origins of Totalitarianism, political theorist Hannah Arendt claimed that the phenomenon of totalitarianism has broken the continuity of Occidental history, and has rendered meaningless most of our moral and political categories. The break in our tradition has become irrevocable after the tragic events of the twentieth century and the triumph of totalitarian movements East and West. In the form of Stalinism and Nazism, totalitarianism has exploded the established categories of political thought and the accepted standards of moral judgment and has thereby broken the continuity of our history. Faced with the tragic events of the Holocaust and the Gulag, we can no longer go back to traditional concepts and values, so as to explain the unprecedented (of horror) by means of precedents, or to understand the monstrous by means of the familiar. The burden of our time must be faced without the aid of tradition, or as Arendt once put it, “without a bannister”’ (Maurizio Passerin d'Entreves, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 11 January 2019. https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/arendt/).