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Brooklyn Public Library to host 12-hour ‘intellectual rave party’ this weekend

January 26, 2017 By Scott Enman Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Guests admire a performance at A Night of Philosophy and Ideas in 2015 at the Cultural Services of the French Embassy and the Ukrainian Institute of America in Manhattan. Photo by Bruce White
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It doesn’t get more French than this.

On Saturday, thousands of Brooklynites of all ages and backgrounds will be rendezvousing at the Brooklyn Public Library (BPL) to feast on wine, coffee and croissants at A Night of Philosophy and Ideas, a 12-hour affair featuring more than 50 French and American philosophers, artists and thinkers.

The free event, which was founded in Paris in April 2015 and has taken place in more than 40 cities worldwide, will be co-hosted by BPL and the Cultural Services of the French Embassy.

The gathering will run from 7 p.m. on Saturday until 7 a.m. on Sunday at BPL’s Central Library at 10 Grand Army Plaza and will feature philosophical debates, music and dance performances, movie screenings and readings.

“The idea is really to have happening a whole night of philosophers of French and American with the idea of profusion,” Cultural Counselor of the French Embassy Bénédicte de Montlaur told the Brooklyn Eagle. “There are several conferences at the same time but also performances, reading, music — all of them communicating with each other around the same themes.

“It’s really a marathon of ideas. It gives the occasion to people to take the whole night to think, to step back from their daily life and to think about the deeper questions of today.”

The program will feature dance performances from the Trisha Brown Company, lectures like “Tocqueville’s Democracy in America,” film screenings like the nine-hour film “Tokyo Reverse,” yoga classes and sleeping stations for guests to nap, lie down and take notes.

“The library itself is a symbolic place,” Vice President of Arts and Culture at BPL Jakab Orsos told the Eagle. “It’s a safe haven for everyone who seeks knowledge. The library opening its hours beyond regular hours is pretty magical. To wander in the building at 2 a.m. is quite interesting…  It’s an endurance exercise. It’s a type of meditation. There’s a mysterious element to it.”

“The night is a special moment, it’s a special moment to party, but it’s also a special moment to think,” added Montlaur. “It’s a moment of silence, a moment when you don’t receive as many emails during the day. So we really offer this special occasion for people to step back, and I think this is what people like. It’s an intellectual rave party that goes throughout the night.”

In addition to wine, coffee and croissants the event will offer other food options and non-alcoholic beverages.

There will be dozens of philosophical sessions on a plethora of topics including “Is There a Future for Democracy?,” “Is Toleration Anti-Democratic?,” “Understanding Totalitarianism,” “Why Our Robots are So Stupid and How to Fix Them,” “Ethics and Animals,” “Eternally Separated Lovers” and “What Would Socrates Do With Pornography?”

Notable speakers include renowned Indian scholar, theorist and critic Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, Marc Augé, Bruce Bégout, Frédéric Lordon, Achille Mbembe, Corine Pelluchon, Camille Robcis, Julie Saada, Céline Spector, Virginie Tournay, Nadia Yala Kisukidi, Bachir Diagne, Didier Fassin, Laure Murat, Frédéric Neyrat, Jeanne Proust and Bernard Stiegler.

The evening will allow attendees to meander throughout the entire library and to have in depth one-on-one discussions with the various philosophers.

“The cool thing is that you can come whenever you want throughout the night,” said Montlaur. “If you want to go to bed early, you can come at 7 p.m. for the beginning of the night. If you go to party, you can come at 3 a.m. after your party. Or, if you’re a morning person, you can have your jog and come by at 5 a.m. and enjoy croissants.”


For more information and to see the evening’s full program, go to


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