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Think twice: Library hosts second annual philosophy night

The team: The staff of the Central branch of the Brooklyn Public Library will be up all night for the upcoming night of philosophy and ideas.
Brooklyn Paper
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The Brooklyn Public Library and the French Embassy will host an all-night philosophy session on the night of Jan. 27, and into the morning of Jan. 28. The organizer of the event invites Brooklynites to join the discussion, to listen, theorize, and consume coffee into the wee hours, since the middle of the night can be the best time to open your mind.

“At night in the darkness everything slows down. You are not just entertained. You are intrigued and stimulated by other people’s ideas,” said the library’s arts and culture vice president Jakab Orsós.

The night will feature brainy academics presenting lectures and discussion on a wide array of topics, including French theory, Nietzche, hedonism, anxiety, the Black Lives Matter movement, Islam, gender fluidity, and “Hegelian resonances in African diasporic literary study,” among many others.

The keynote address will come from professor George Yancy, best known for his New York Times article “Dear White America,” calling on American white people to acknowledge and examine their own racism.

In addition to the philosophical talks, the night will also feature performances from French acrobatic troupe Compagnie XY, jazz singer Theo Bleckmann, and Chinese flute player Min Xiao-Fen, along with an early-morning yoga session.

This is the second time that the Library has hosted a philosophy all-nighter. Orsós first thought of hosting the event at the Central branch library after hearing about a similar event at the French Consulate in New York four years ago, he said.

This year’s philosophical festival coincides with the 50th anniversary of the May 1968 protests in France, when students and workers held massive anti-establishment protests in the country. The French Embassy hopes to revive some of the era’s revolutionary zeal at the event, said the embassy’s cultural counselor.

“We will revisit the spirit of the ’60s in all of its facets, from revolution and social activism to love, religion, and compassion,” said Bénédicte de Montlaur.

Despite its French origins, the overnight think-a-thon is Brooklyn through and through, according to organizers.

“Brooklyn is a place where people constantly push the envelope,” said Orsós.

There will be about 10 espresso stations at the event, but the ideas bouncing in people’s heads will be enough keep them up, said Orsós.

“People stimulate one another. It’s not hard to stay awake,” he said.

Orsós says his favorite part of last year’s session was seeing two youths deep in philosophical discussion and wide awake at 3 am.

“It was philosophy that kept them awake,” he said.

“A Night of Philosophy and Ideas” at the Brooklyn Public Library [10 Grand Army Plaza at Eastern Parkway in Prospect Heights, (718) 230–2100, www.bklynlibrary.org]. Jan. 27 from 7 pm to 7 am. Free.

Reach reporter Adam Lucente at alucente@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow him on Twitter @Adam_Lucente.
Updated 5:50 pm, July 9, 2018
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