“European Philosophical Song Contest”: Philosophers, Sing Now!

On the sidelines of the usual Eurovision Song Contest, two Swiss have created a competition-show dedicated to philosophical texts … sung, to be seen this Friday at 9 p.m. on TV5MONDE.

“A society that does not think of itself is a sick society!”, Assures the Lausanne-based Massimo Furlan who, with his co-organizer Claire de Ribaupierre, launched the “European Philosophical Song Contest” in 2019.

Fascinated since childhood by Eurovision, he decided to present a show in the form of a competition where glitter, extravagant costumes, as well as rock, fun or pop music, but whose lyrics, written by thinkers are present. (philosophers, historians, etc.) lead one to think about the meaning of life.

Two chances for Belgium

“For the form, the texts have the usual codes with verses and rhymes. Basically, it is not a question of poetry or lyricism, but of observation of the sociological, anthropological or philosophical aspects of the world, ”explains Massimo Furlan. “Far from the commercial and standardized side of variety, the songs raise questions about the identity of the participating countries and of Europe, especially as the latter and its notions are weakening.”

Each country therefore comes with a song, in its own language – translated live on giant screens -, the lyrics of which are signed by a national philosopher. Belgium has benefited in particular from the talent of the mathematician Jean-Paul Van Bendegem for Flanders and, for Wallonia, from that of the philosopher of science Vinciane Despret. This gives the Flat Country a double chance.

Rotten work

But being an author cannot be improvised! Vinciane Despret told the newspaper Liberation: “Writing … It spoiled me in the summer!” Lyricist is a talent that I don’t have. It takes a letting go of my usual functions, it requires using words to do and not to say. It’s strange to see my song set to music and stage. I felt out of place, but in a good way! ”

She also had the pleasure of being a juror alongside colleagues such as the Slovenian psychoanalyst Mladen Dolar, the Norwegian professor Ánde Somby, the Lithuanian aesthetic specialist Kristupas Sabolius and the French historian Philippe Artières. These jurors look exactly like those of the famous current telecrochets, giving their comments with humor.

And Massimo Furlan concludes: “We put thinkers in a position where they deal with popular culture, but by using it intelligently. So that thought is present in the public space, that it is heard, shared and understood! ”

This article appeared in Télépro on 3/6/2021

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