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A Meditation on Arendt, Rilke, & Guns

by Samantha Hill

Gun Violence

“Because there is no true transcendence in this ordered world, one also cannot exceed the world, but only succeed to higher ranks.”

— Hannah Arendt, “Rilke’s ‘Duino Elegies’”

Arendt and Stern’s essay on Rilke’s Duino Elegies is a sumptuous meditation that weaves together questions of worldliness, being-in-hearing, alienation, the lover, time, and solitude. The despair expressed in the Elegies is an expression of our human world. It is a longing spoken in the space between making a home in this world and the acknowledgement that both God and the World have abandoned us. This “belonging-nowhere,” as Arendt calls it, constitutes both the nihilistic and religious quality of the poems. Arendt reads the Elegies as a “conscious renunciation of the demand to be heard.” In this conscious renunciation, there is despair at not being heard, along with despair in the desire to speak, knowing that there will be no answer. Despair, in these terms, is the only residuum of religiousness, and the elegy is the only form that can give expression not to what has been lost but the condition of loss itself.

What do guns have to do with Rilke and with loss?

Read the full post at the Hannah Arendt Center

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Filed under: Essays

About the Author

Posted by

Oi ! I’m Jeremiah Walton. For the past ~3 years I’ve been bopping around the U.S. between hitchhiking + rubber tramping, running traveling bookstore Books & Shovels + indie publisher Nostrovia! Press. My focus is in-person distribution at open mics + features + busking. Word of mouth is a fulfilling & feels to be a more intimate promotional process. I’ve featured at the NYC Poetry Festival + San Francisco Lit Crawl + Snoetry Cleveland + Beast Crawl Oakland + This Lil Lit Fest + street corners across the country. There’s a handful of my books floating around the country, but most recently is “From Here Til Utopia” (Ghost City Press). Raccoons + coyotes are my companions. Hope you dig the poems, much love, thank you❤

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