Brooklyn Public Library, Cultural Services Of The French Embassy To Host ‘a Night Of Philosophy & Ideas’

Brooklyn Public Library, Cultural Services Of The French Embassy To Host ‘a Night Of Philosophy & Ideas’

More than 50 Philosophers, Artists & Thinkers Stationed throughout BPL’s Central Library to Engage New Yorkers in All-Night Marathon of Discussion, Debate

Marquee Lectures Include Simon Critchley, Achille Mbembe, Gayatri Spivak; Performances by Trisha Brown Dance Company, National Sawdust-Affiliated Musicians; Marathon Readings of de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America and Alain Badiou’s Plato’s Republic


Central Library will open its doors for a 12-hour marathon of philosophical debate, performances, screenings, readings and music. A Night of Philosophy & Ideas will feature discussions led by some of the world’s foremost philosophers and thinkers on the most challenging and fascinating issues confronting individuals, states and societies today.

A wide range of events will take place simultaneously throughout the evening. The public can join Simon Critchley at 5 am for a discussion of tragedy; participate in a five-hour marathon community reading of Democracy in America; stretch their minds and body to a Yoga & Philosophy session in the library’s grand lobby at 1 am; and more. For the first time, Central Library is open all night for the community to explore, with screenings, performances, and talks held throughout the building. All events are free and open to the public.


Saturday, January 28, 7:00 pm to 7:00 am Sunday, January 29

For broadcast: Morning live shots available at 6:00 am


Central Library, 10 Grand Army Plaza, Brooklyn


Various philosophers, performers and artists (a partial list follows)Members of the publicBrooklyn Public Library: Jakab Orsos, Vice President of Arts and CultureCultural Services of the French Embassy: Bénédicte de Montlaur, Cultural Counselor


  • Discussions led by philosophers Simon Critchley (author of How to Stop Living and Start Worrying), Achille Mbembe (Politiques de l’inimitié), Gayatri Spivak (“Can the Subaltern Speak?”), Marc Augé (Non-Places: An Introduction to Supermodernity), and many more.
  • Five performances by the Trisha Brown Dance Company; screenings of slow cinema landmark Tokyo Reverse and virtual reality experience Notes on Blindness; concerts curated by National Sawdust; marathon readings of de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America and Alain Badiou’s Plato’s Republic, an innovative reimagining of Plato’s work; rarely seen footage from the BAM Archive.


Brooklyn Public Library and the Cultural Services of the French Embassy present A Night of Philosophy & Ideas, an all-night marathon of philosophical debate, performances, screenings, readings and music. The public is invited to explore Central Library after-hours and participate in provocative forums on artificial intelligence, sex, slowness, time, reconciliation and more.

A Night of Philosophy and Ideas is produced in connection with La Nuit des idées, a world-wide event taking place in over 30 cities, including Los Angeles, on January 26, 2017, organized by the Institut français, Paris. Since 2010, Night of Philosophy ‘happenings’ have taken place in cities around the world, including Paris, Helsinki, London, Tokyo, Berlin, and Tel Aviv. In New York City, a Night of Philosophy was produced by the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in April 2015, and was curated by Mériam Korichi. The all-night event, which took place at the neighboring Fifth Avenue mansions of the French Cultural Services and the Ukrainian Institute of America, was wildly successful, drawing over 5,000 attendees.

This year, A Night of Philosophy & Ideas travels to Brooklyn Public Library, the institution that provides New Yorkers, whatever their backgrounds, with access to virtually all of humanity’s accumulated wisdom. With Jakab Orsos, former head of the PEN World Voices Festival, at the helm of BPL’s cultural programming, the library is bringing rich, innovative arts and culture experiences like Night of Philosophy to diverse communities in Brooklyn, free of charge. In March, BPL and the French Embassy will host family-friendly “Philosophy for Kids” workshops moderated by Simon Critchley as part of the Tilt Kids Festival, co-presented by the French Institute Alliance Française (FIAF).

A Night of Philosophy and Ideas is made possible with support from Air France, the Florence Gould Foundation, Institut français, Holiday Inn and The Alliance Program.

About Brooklyn Public Library

Brooklyn Public Library (BPL) is an independent library system for the 2.5 million residents of Brooklyn. It is the fifth largest library system in the United States with 60 neighborhood libraries located throughout the borough. BPL offers free programs and services for all ages and stages of life, including a large selection of books in more than 30 languages, author talks, literacy programs and public computers. BPL’s eResources, such as eBooks and eVideos, catalog information and free homework help, are available to customers of all ages 24 hours a day at our website:

About the Cultural Services of the French Embassy

The Cultural Services of the French Embassy promotes the best of French arts, literature, cinema, language, and higher education across the US. Based in New York City, Washington D.C., and eight other cities across the country, the Cultural Services brings artists, authors, educational and university programs to cities nationwide. It also builds partnerships between French and American artists, institutions and universities on both sides of the Atlantic. In New York, through its bookshop Albertine, it fosters French-American exchange around literature and the arts. Website:

About the Institut français-Paris

Institut français is the agency of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development for cultural action outside of France. As an agent of cultural diplomacy, the Institut français is a unique brand throughout 96 countries and in France. It is responsible for the promotion of artists, ideas, works and industries that contribute to presenting an innovative and dynamic picture of artistic creation in France. It encourages dialogue between cultures and gives life to professional communities in each sector it is involved in, while supporting the French cultural network abroad. Website: