Luc Carton is a philosopher. From 2005 to May 2019, he was Director of the General Inspectorate of Culture at the Ministry of the Federation Wallonia-Brussels (French-speaking Belgium), where he took on a general mission to develop the evaluation of public policies of Culture. In June 2019, he participates in the 3rd National Forum of Intermediate and Independent Places co-organized and hosted by Les Ateliers du Vent in Rennes. On 22 April 2021, he said this text at the royal theatre of La Monnaie in Brussels, which has been occupied these days, in the context of resistance to the containment of culture and democracy, in particular.
The following text is an automatic translation. Thank you for your understanding and indulgence
Opening supermarkets, closing cinemas and theatres, music venues and public spaces, in particular, says a lot about the imagination of governments, or rather the unconscious of a “regime”, the very structure of the “lived world”, as Husserl and then Habermas spoke of it: a way of governing without sharing, of pretending to represent without discussing representation, a non-vision of the world in action , a meaning that it does not give to existence, the nonsense it imposes on our existences.
A revival without horizon, growth without purpose, care but without vision of health, schools of discipline (s) cut off from the world, a world of cutting, prisons in development, hospitals too rushed, nursing homes six feet underground, already out of the world, below the world.
If this “Regime” had dreams, its dreams would be merchants and policemen, super-merchants, hyper-merchants and totally supervisors, and its dreams would be our nightmares, populated by fortresses and borders. Our societies, where what is left of them, would be lying in the bed of their commercial economy, in English “Embedded” as Karl Polanyi feared in The Great Transformation, in 1943.
For their market is not the small market next to us, the one where we meet, where we love each other, where we haggle and seduce ourselves, where we talk to each other, the one that makes hospitality to humans, where we trade, in cities, towns and villages; no, their market has no space, no time, no city, no countryside. It is the very large transnational market, where no one knows anyone anymore, the one where all the fruits, music, vegetables and books, movies, sheep and mushrooms, and the works of art themselves, have the same taste of a bad thing, a smell of container, a smell of money, delivered by Amazon trucks.
Their vision of culture is the accessory, the surplus, the leisure, the 25th hour (not the book) the icing on the cake, the 8th day (not the film), “the available brain time sold to Coca-Cola”, as the boss of TF1, Patrick Le Lay, said, between two bad commercial series, to define the meaning, or more exactly the nonsense of his audio-visual craft.
Culture, in this “Regime”, distances us from ourselves, separates us from others, makes us forget the essentials. Culture fades away, for the worse, it knocks us out, it puts us in a shelf.
For their vision of wealth is indexed to the production of anything, rent, money without cause, extorted profits and added values devoid of meaning, flavor and even value. Values subtracted, in short, from damaged lives, bullshit jobs, including in the hospital where caregivers are exhausted, to their bodies and their defending hearts.
They say that they take care of us, but it is wrong to define us that to act in this way against the mind and against us is to misunderstand the care of doing so against culture, to be so wrong about the essential, including health, and public health in particular, to be wrong about humanity, quite simply.
For caring for women and men, children and the elderly, the sick and dying, the people here and people elsewhere, is rooted in the conviction of the initial, essential and final equality of human rights, in rights and dignity, as stated and proclaimed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948, in Article 1.
But who are these equal humans, all equally subject to rights? They are living and carnal bodies and, like most living people, beings-of-language.
But, among the beings of language, what are these humans, singularly?
Who are we?
We are fictional beings, beings who invent worlds in the world, beings who give birth to invisible worlds, beings who explore inner worlds, beings who move mountains in their heads and create oceans in their hearts, beings of silly dreams and crazy desires, uncertain beings, beings in search , all divided and different, all equal, all political, thought Hannah Arendt.
Beings whose “literature is like an axe in the frozen sea that is in us,” Kafka wrote.
And so to take care is to recognize that the fictions of the other are indispensable to us, that without these fictions we are no longer “I,” “you,” “they” and “they,” but only “NDs.”
Without these fictions, it is the flesh of our lives that fades and unravels. We still have the skeleton of our lives, the properties and objects, the dust of insignificance, our lives then left to the mere fear of dying.
Our need for consolation is then definitely impossible to satisfy, as Stig Dagerman wrote.
The essential is therefore in the fictions of the other, in the fictions of humans already past, it is called heritage, the fictions of language, it is called language or literature, the fictions of knowledge, it is called experience, then hypotheses, then science, fictions of our senses, whose best destiny is to become works shared in incredible languages, always new , senses of existence, gestures of loving bodies in choreography, misguided visions of the world, improbable music and rock paintings, songs from the day before yesterday and films for Tomorrow, sculptures of life and new novels, raw poems and tags on the city walls, among others.
But also the fictions of oneself, an open identity, wider and less secure than the map of the same name, a genre in search, less determined than sex, a love always to be refounded, an existence to be revived every morning.
The fictions of the other, of all others, allow me, “authorize me”, me and allow us to become co-authors and co-authors of our lives and my lives, with all and all these others, and by their grace, above all!
The fictions of the other born of suffering and struggle are particularly essential to us, because their place of birth is the love of life, life in itself, the lives of others, the love of others.
This is also why migration brings us essential fictions, immense and precious lessons of humanity. They create us for the better of us, as Édouard Glissant and Patrick Chamoiseau write.
That is why the fate that fortress Europe, this same “regime”, reserves for exiles, refugees and asylum seekers is a denial of rights, a denial of humanity, a scandal, our scandal. By dehumanizing others, in Lesbos, Calais or Brussels, in Parc Maximilien, we leave the common life of humans. There are still camps and the wandering of the undocumented, forgetting to say that they are undocumented people.
Taking care of ourselves is embodied at the highest level in hospitality, in hospitality, in attention, in respect, in listening to the fictions of others, the stories of their exiles and journeys, the discovery of their ancient and founding books, the love of their astonishment at our barbarities, the encounter of the common with those we do not yet know.
In a word, making culture allows humans to work on the meaning of their lives, to uncover the nonsense of living together, to fight against the fabric of nonsense, in itself and among others, to seek a direction to counter a sense of domination, alienation, exploitation, patriarchy.
For equality. Culture makes it possible to make politics.
Let’s make no mistake about the essentials, let’s not get angry! Let us take care of the fictions of the other, of all others: they are all indispensable for us to live, love and continue to change “Regime”!