Fierce and elegant, Lévy’s musings will be of profound interest to any reader of modern continental philosophy.
The renowned French philosopher and activist delivers an intellectual biography-cum-manifesto that demands that we face and document the world’s horrors.
“What leads me to throw myself once again into this mess or that inferno?” So ponders Lévy, fondly known in France as BHL and a familiar presence on TV and in the pages of newspapers in a country that takes big ideas and thinkers more seriously than the U.S. The author advocates for politically engaged journalism that does not pretend to objectivity. The writer, he insists, must make a stand in the face of genocide, fundamentalist intolerance, and other assaults on human rights and democracy. Unafraid to be controversial, Lévy demands a new internationalism, which he distinguishes from globalism, and a cosmopolitanism that must be reformed with nuance. “I would keep the word but only after making it sing with the voices of the excluded, those we now refer to, in today’s democracies, as migrants, immigrants, foreigners without and foreigners within.” The author is always willing to put his life where his mouth is. For example, in 1971, he was on the scene in Bangladesh as it struggled for independence, advocating then and at many points since a kind of International Brigade of fighters who, like those in the Spanish Civil War, would battle against fascism. Lévy is a suggestive and allusive writer. Next to such militant pronouncements, for instance, he employs classical literature to discuss two types of traveling: “The voyage of Ulysses, or that of Aeneas. The voyager who thinks of nothing but his return, or the one who is constantly departing.” As for today, Lévy scorns those who have abandoned travel because of the heavy carbon footprint it entails. We must go out to see the world, and we have to fight for it while making of our travels “a poetic adventure in which the stake is, by traveling through space, to exert opposition until time bends.”Fierce and elegant, Lévy’s musings will be of profound interest to any reader of modern continental philosophy.