An Independent Mind: Europe and the Arts

02 juni 2018

The 2nd of June, 8:30pm at De Balie: during the Forum De Balie proudly presents and discusses the anthology An Independent Mind. Europe and the Arts: a collection of essays about Europe and the role of the arts, written by the greatest European writers and thinkers of the 20th century, but placed in today’s socio-political context.

The future of Europe seems all of a sudden uncertain, unclear, and more dangerous than before. For those that want to see them black clouds are looming: Brexit, the growing confrontation with Putin’s Russia, an increasingly powerful China and an openly self-interested America under Trump, but also the refugee crisis, war in the Middle East and the resurgence of nationalism in such regions as Catalonia, Scotland and northern Italy. What can the arts, literature and philosophy offer us as answers and insights?

After the First World War, French romantic Romain Rolland published his Déclaration de l’indépendance de l’Esprit, in which he disputed nationalism and war, and voiced a fervent plea for European camaraderie. In 21st century Europe, Rolland’s words are once again relevant.

With Rolland’s manifesto as the starting point, this anthology compiles some of the most beautiful and urgent passages by the greatest European writers and thinkers, and places them in today’s zeitgeist. Do their visions yield insights to our present-day challenges? What’s the condition of the arts and of independent and original thinking in Europe today? What does this mean for the future of Europe?

The anthology, which will be presented and discussed during the programme (festival/forum), contains excerpts by Stefan Zweig, Susan Sontag, Thomas Mann, Sigmund Freud, and Simone Weil and new contributions by Arnon Grunberg, Stefan Hertmans, Mathieu Segers, and Yoeri Albrecht.

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