Theses on Nightlife
Brandon LaBelle

1. It is already a shift in perspective: I cannot see, precisely, who is there? What we
may begin to understand as the logic of shadow.

2. The time of the criminal: which is a time of lawlessness, hidden communities, of
secret selves and secret missions: a breaking in or out. The time in which time itself
loses its grip on the force of appearance: appearance as the conditions for being
accountable. Instead, we enter an arena without accounts.

3. The shadow, the criminal, as well as the ghost: we are haunted by what we cannot
see, and which turns us toward the unconscious, the spectral: the scraping, the
ambiguity, the fear which trembles us. Might such trembling produce a type of
knowledge: the knowledge of fragmentation, and of strangeness.

4. What I’m mapping here are the dynamics of unseeing – the paradigm of nightlife,
which interrupts law and legibility.

5. Someone runs, across the street, ducking in the shadows, hiding from the light; the
night requires policing – which, in places and situations of military control, leads to
the implementation of curfew: at night, no one must be on the streets.

6. Someone runs, across the street, while others hide inside, gathered together,
whispering and treading lightly across the broken boards and the glass. Someone
reads aloud, it is a story, no, a testimony scratched onto yellow paper. It speaks of
purgatory, of capture and of spilled blood; this voice that reads aloud and that flies
into the darkness like a bat. A bat-language, out of the mouth: we are vampires here.

7. What might come from this logic of shadow, this paradigm of nightlife? Texts of
blood and bats, scenes of hiding and whispering; as well as the movements of
community, which Jean-Luc Nancy highlights as the means for rebellion – a rebellion
not necessarily aimed at power, for power, but rather, passion: the ecstasy of sharing
and of interruption – to be interrupted by others. This might be the lesson of her story,
the one read aloud behind closed doors: the night as the time of lawlessness, as well
as radical sharing: to produce a republic of rapture, the shattered.

8. In some places, there is the understanding that one may build a home during the
night, and that if, come daylight, one has accomplished this act, with a roof in place,
then one has the right to remain. These are called: night houses.

9. I start to imagine a neighborhood of night houses, and maybe, even, night
communities: what do they do, these night communities? Do they sing with the bats,
reordering the world according to shadows?

10. Or maybe, undercover, the night communities act as freedom fighters, defending
the right to be undone, to go missing; defending the right to share, finally, the
darkness of the mouth, and the passion of this hidden sphere. A listening from below.