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Relive A Night of Philosophy and Ideas

A Night of Philosophy and Ideas, the all-night marathon of philosophy talks, performance art, screenings, and more took place on the night of Saturday January 27, 2018 at the Brooklyn Public Library’s Central Library, and was co-presented by the Brooklyn Public Library and the Cultural Services of the French Embassy. Four floors of the building were taken over by the 12-hour event, which featured philosophers, musicians, writers, scholars, acrobats, artists, and their audiences. The topics explored through various lectures and art forms included consent, religion, media, dreams, and French theory, among many others. In total, more than 7,600 people came to see the nearly 80 speakers and artists––many of whom were from France and other countries––during the all-night marathon.

 

Coinciding with the 50th anniversary of student-led protests in France and around the world that took place in 1968, this year’s Night of Philosophy and Ideas paid homage to that transformational moment in history and explored how it continues to reverberate in our society today.

The night started off with a striking keynote address by George Yancy, professor of philosophy at Emory University and the author of the New York Times Op-Ed, “Dear White America.” After gathering in the Grand Lobby for his speech, the crowd dispersed for various talks and performances that took place throughout the building. Julia Cagé presented her theory on “Saving the Media,” which entails making the media industry nonprofit. Nomi Neem talked about “Sacred vs. Banned Books of the World” while Juliette Volcler explained the ways in which sound is used to manipulate people in public spaces in her lecture “Sonic Fences in Public Spaces.” A series of speeches dubbed the “Dilemma Series” touched on topics such as “Language Police” and “Bad Actor.” Other central themes of the 20-minute lectures included hedonism, Buddhism, love, punishment, religion, anxiety, and psychoanalysis.

Philosophical lectures weren’t the only highlights of the evening. Planet ∞, a virtual reality experience showing a dystopian future, was screened for five hours. The nine-hour-long Holocaust documentary, Shoah, directed by Claude Lanzmann, was also presented and showcased the ways in which the past lives on in the present. Compagnie XY performed five mesmerizing acrobatic routines in the Grand Lobby at different points of the night, and Dechen Karl Thurman performed Collection of Dreams, a project by Lancelot Hamelin in collaboration with Duncan Evennou. The night was also interspersed with musical interludes by Yacine Boularès and Can Olgun along with a National Sawdust Salon. Eventgoers enjoyed complimentary coffee from Nespresso all night long, as well as drinks from Sixpoint Brewery. For the night owls who stayed until dawn, Colson Patisserie served breakfast at 5 am. Additional food and beverages were provided by other sponsors throughout the night.

This year, for the first time, a Livestream captured three hours of the program and 3,200 people tuned in live to watch remotely. The video included the keynote speech by George Yancy, a selection of speeches from different philosophers, and three interviews. It can be accessed here. A Facebook album of pictures from the night is also available here

Geneviève Fraisse speaks about consent. © Elizabeth Leitzell

Acrobats from Compagnie XY perform in the Grand Lobby. © Elizabeth Leitzell

Jean-Godefroy Bidima talks about medical care and consent. © Elizabeth Leitzell

The Resistance Revival Chorus performs. © Elizabeth Leitzell

A crowded lecture room. © Elizabeth Leitzell

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