Monday, May 20, 2019
Vox on Terrence Malick's A Hidden Life.
It’s an especially interesting story for Malick to tell. The filmmaker is strongly influenced by Christianity, but also by the philosopher Martin Heidegger. In 1969, Malick published the authoritative translation of Heidegger’s The Essence of Reasons, just as he was abandoning a doctorate at Harvard on Heidegger, Kierkegaard, and Wittgenstein. His films often hew closely to and examine — in both narrative and form — ideas about the essence of humanity and phenomenology advanced by Heidegger. (You can detect as much Heidegger as the Bible in The Tree of Life.)
But Heidegger, whose philosophy often feels unusually gentle and empathetic to the human condition, also famously joined the Nazi Party on May 1, 1933, shortly after being elected rector of the University of Freiburg (and about a decade before Jägerstätter’s execution), and he remained part of the party until the end of the war.
For most people of goodwill who find Heidegger’s work valuable (and I include myself here), his apparently willing association with the Nazi Party is confounding and infuriating. How could a man who wrote those ideas apparently ignore what was happening around him? Or, worse, condone it?
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