Night of Philosophy and Ideas 2018

Night of Philosophy and Ideas 2018

Brooklyn Public Library and the Cultural Services of the French Embassy Commemorate 50th Anniversary of 1968 Student-Led Protests

BROOKLYN, January 10, 2018—Brooklyn Public Library (BPL) and the Cultural Services of the French Embassy will present A Night of Philosophy and Ideas 2018, a sunset-to-sunrise event bringing philosophers, musicians, artists, and authors from around the world together with the Brooklyn and Greater New York community through a series of conversations and performances from 7:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m. on January 27–28, 2018, at the historic Central Library at Grand Army Plaza.

Coinciding with the 50th anniversary of transformational student-led protests in France, and punctuated by a keynote address by “Dear White America” author and Emory University professor of philosophy George YancyA Night of Philosophy and Ideas 2018 will explore how collective action can inform public affairs and daily life, and motivate national and international change.

“On January 27, there is no better place to be than Central Library on Grand Army Plaza,” said Brooklyn Public Library President and CEO Linda E. Johnson. “We will open our doors to all of New York at 7:00 p.m. and stay up all night for a marathon of philosophical debate, performances, screenings, readings, music and more.”

“We are thrilled to welcome the Brooklyn community and our neighbors from across New York and around the world back to the Brooklyn Public Library for A Night of Philosophy and Ideas,” said László Jakab Orsós, BPL’s Vice President of Arts and Culture. “With our partners at the French Embassy, we have assembled an event that will expose speakers and audience members alike to challenging and exciting new ideas from a multiplicity of viewpoints, which is, of course, precisely what the Library is designed to do.”

“50 years after the transformative May ’68 student-led protests in France, we are reminded of the importance of public spaces that allow us to reflect on the most difficult questions within our shared global community,” said Bénédicte de Montlaur, Cultural Counselor of the French Embassy in the United States. “In our second year of collaboration with BPL on Night of

Philosophy and Ideas, we will revisit the spirit of the ’60s in all of its facets, from revolution and social activism to love, religion, and compassion, with lectures tackling topics from feminism to race, gender and spirituality. We have brought together an exceptional group of philosophers, musicians, artists, and authors to forge links and provoke ideas that will resonate long after the sun rises on January 28.”

Throughout the night and into the early morning, philosophers will present topics and debate ideas on a wide range of issues, those both timely and timeless, including the “dilemma series”: interactive sessions which will engage participants in discussions about the everyday philosophical quandaries we all face.

Participants will also enjoy musical performances, film screenings, and interactive performance artworks including a special show by the team members of Compagnie XY, a renowned French artistic acrobatic troupe who will perform a dramatic one-of-a-kind show in Central Library’s Grand Lobby throughout the night, along with a 360-degree dystopian virtual-reality experience, Planet , by Momoko Seto in the Trustees Room.

National Sawdust, an artist-led nonprofit music organization, will host a salon including Grammy-nominated composer and jazz singer Theo Bleckmann singing “Zippo songs”—composed by Phil Kline and based on engravings by soldiers in Vietnam on their Zippo lighters.

The Library will also fill with the sounds of the Brooklyn Art Song Society and the Women’s March Resistance Revival Chorus.

Claude Lanzmann’s acclaimed nine-hour documentary film, Shoah, will play all night, commemorating the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz on January 27, 1945. A selection of silent short films about the events in Paris in May 1968, by a group of uncredited filmmakers that included Jean-Luc Godard and Alain Resnais, will also be screened.

A community yoga session held in the Grand Lobby will take place in the early-morning hours to refresh and revive participants.

At dawn, 25 centuries after Plato’s Symposium, eight philosophers and traditional Greek musicians will gather around a table to create a Symposium on Love.

Additional events will include a flash philosophy workshop presented by The New York Times philosophy blog “The Stone,” in which participants can pitch short essay topics to the blog’s editors and moderator, Simon Critchley.

Additional philosophers and topics will include the following and a full list of events may be found at:

  • Nietzsche and Buddhism with Samir Chopra
  • Anxiety, Anxiety, Anxiety! with Jamieson Webster
  • What is Hedonism? with Katja Vogt
  • Creaturely Love with Dominic Pettman
  • Black Light/Black Life: Miles, Martin, Martyrs, and the ’68 Moment with Kazembe Balagun
  • Violence with Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak
  • The Defeat of Philosophy with Bruno Bosteels
  • Self-Islam: Freeing Religion from Dogma with Abdennour Bidar
  • Saving the Media with Julia Cagé
  • Why Monuments Matter with Michele Moody-Adams
  • The Problem of Real News with Ian Olasov
  • Can a Human Have a Meaningful Relationship with a Robot? with Aleksandra Przegalińska
  • What is Politically Normative of ‘Black Lives Matter’ with Frank M. Kirkland
  • The Death and Life of Public Space with Margaret Kohn
  • From Occupy to Decolonize: Art as Training in the Practice of Freedom with MTL Collective
  • Territory-Less Identities in a Global World by Raphaël Liogier
  • The Violence of Vision with Susanna Schellenberg
  • Enrichment, Collection, Profit with Arnaud Esquerre
  • May ’68 at 50: Can Sociologists Deal with Big Events? with Jean-Louis Fabiani
  • Power to the Imagination: Tackling Democratic Entropy with Cynthia Fleury
  • Automated Attention: Artificial Imagination and Documentary Ethics with Yves Citton
  • Consent and Refusal of Consent with Geneviève Fraisse
  • Protesting Language with Amie L. Thomasson
  • Revolution as an Act of Love: The Transformation of Moral Vision with Jay Garfield
  • Trans*: A Quick and Quirky Account of Gender Variance with Jack Halberstam
  • Radical Compassion with Joan Halifax
  • Why Social Justice Means Environmental Justice with Omar Dahbour
  • Leszek Kołakowski and March 1968 in Poland with Katarzyna Kasia
  • The Global 1960s with Mary Nolan
  • Sonic Fences in Public Spaces with Juliette Volcler

Night of Philosophy and Ideas will also feature:

  • Performance artist Sherrill Roland’s Jumpsuit Project
  • Musical improvisations inspired by French philosopher Gilles Deleuze’s Difference and by saxophonist Yacine Boularès and pianist Can Olgun
  • Cellist Matt Haimovitz
  • Composer and electronic artist Ricardo Romaneiro
  • Harpist Brandee Younger
  • Singer Scott Matthew
  • Pipa player Min Xiao-Fen

A Night of Philosophy and Ideas returns to the Central Library following BPL’s fall 2017 season, which brought writers, artists, critics, and intellectuals including Salman Rushdie, Orhan Pamuk, Alice McDermott, Isabel Allende, and David Grossman, among many others, into conversation with the Brooklyn and larger New York community.

The 2018 A Night of Philosophy & Ideas is co-presented by Brooklyn Public Library and the Cultural Services of the French Embassy. A Night of Philosophy & Ideas is produced in connection with La Nuit des idèes, a project of the Institut français, Paris. La Nuit des idèes is a worldwide event taking place in over 30 cities on January 25, 2018. The program is made possible with support from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, Nespresso, The Onassis Cultural Center New York, the Florence Gould Foundation, the Institut français, FACE Foundation, Whole Foods Market 365, Hilail Gildin Trust, Humanities New York, New York-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital, Sixpoint Brewery, Hampton Inn, the Polish Cultural Institute New York, Alliance Program, and event partners National Sawdust, Samsung, and the New York Times. WNYC is a media partner of the 2017–2018 BPL Presents Season. Additional support is provided by Archer Roose, Colson Patisserie, Champagne Pommery, Albertine, and Bogota Latin Bistro. Visual identity created by La Rêveuse.

About Brooklyn Public Library (BPL)

Brooklyn Public Library (BPL) is an independent library system for the 2.6 million residents of Brooklyn. With a branch library within a half-mile of nearly all of the borough’s residents, BPL provides a democratic space where people of diverse backgrounds and experiences participate in public conversations and cultural and educational programs to explore issues as diverse as Brooklyn itself. The fifth largest library system in the nation, 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

About Cultural Services of the French Embassy of the United States

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,

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Media Contacts

Resnicow and Associates

Clarissa Marzán


Sarah Morris



Josh Balber

Brooklyn Public Library

Fritzi Bodenheimer


Cultural Services of the French Embassy

Camille Desprez