In her reading last night, thursday april 7th at the Audiatur Festival, french writer Nathalie Quintane insisted on an extra text, departing from her book ’Tomates’ that she was invited to read from. In an urgent adress she told us about the ongoing occupation of Place de la Republique in Paris; the NuitDebout (Night on Our Feet). The occupation is attempting to install a direct democracy, deciding everything by voting. This might be a slow process, but there is no haste. As she claimed: ”This is march 38th. This anomaly month might go on for weeks, for hundreds or maybe even for thousands of days….”. By reorganising the calendar in this manner; by claiming a different measure of days, NuitDebout is establishing nothing less than an autonome time zone. The revolt exists in another measure of time. Another world is not only possible – it exists. In the outstretched month of March another world exists.
This new society builds on a similar ’poetic re-claiming of functions’ as I wrote about in my last entry. It reminds closely of the Active Time, that the danish anthropologist Stine Krøyer has written about:
”People become activists by becoming engaged, absorbed or involved in common activity. Against this background, we can define as autonomy the temporal space of social relations that opens up when activists are engaged in common activities, which extends the concept from one relating to physical space. Better even, the space of social relation can be conceptualized as an autonomous bracket or interstice, that is, an interval of active time in the all-encompassing dead time of capitalism.”
The occupation of Place de la Republique and other places throughout France can be conceptualized as an interval of active time in the all-encompassing dead time of capitalism. The ongoing month of March is an autonomous interstice of active democracy in president Hollande’s dead and stiffened state of emergency. The ongoing month of March is a new common. The ongoing month of March is a new society.
The quote on March 38th by Nathalie Quintane is my recollection, and thus not a proper quote. The other quote is taken from Stine Krøijer: FIGURATIONS OF THE FUTURE Forms and temporality of left radical politics in northern Europe, PhD thesis (Copenhagen: Department of Anthropology, University of Copenhagen 2011) p. 95-96.