“Your bold thought has become the thought of the present time”

French sociologist, anthropologist and philosopher Bruno Latour, February 3, 2021.

Tdear Bruno. The dreaded time has come to learn to live without you. For your birth family, first of all, and for the one you formed by marrying Chantal, who will have to mend day after day the disjointed threads of an interrupted presence, of a love whose physical support has been absent. For the crowd of your friends, all distraught at not being able to resume the course of the conversation with you where it left off, no doubt remembering clearly your last words, the last state of resonance between them and you. .

Each of us keeps a particular reason to love you, images of you that stand out from others, words spoken or written that still vibrate like so many attachments because they have become a bit of you that survives in U.S. How to make this flow of affects, concepts, gestures, diffracted in all those who knew you, coincide, so that it forms a whole that does justice to what you were for all of us? The Achuar of the upper Amazon, about whom we have often spoken together, have invented a treatment of the dead, shocking at first sight, but which could offer a lead for this enterprise of reconciling the multiple traces that you have left in us.

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In the memory of a deceased, they brutally dissociate the memories of the loved one, the fabric of emotions and shared moments, from the remembrance of his accomplishments as an actor particularly esteemed by relatives and whose actions oblige those who survive him. . The former, personal recollections, must be banished from memory, lest the deceased lead you straight to the land of the dead, while the latter are readily evoked so that the framework of social relations does not disintegrate. Far be it from me, dear Bruno, to transpose directly such a pathetic way of dealing with the memory of the dead. It only seems to me that this dissociation between the memories of your person, which for each of us take on a different aspect in our heart of hearts, and the memories of what you bequeathed to us in your life as a thinker could allow me to speak of you without having the impression of forcing the procession of those who accompany you today to endorse my words.

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You started as a philosopher, Bruno, and, in fact, you remained a philosopher all your life, collecting over time adjectives of circumstance – sociologist, anthropologist, historian of science, even, horresco referencesepistemologist – who was only defining in a conjunctural way one element among others of the range of your areas of interest and your fields of investigation. “Philosophy is so beautiful”, you said again in a recent interview; not because it leads to unattainable eternal truths, not because it provides an idiom free from contingencies allowing everything to be legislated, but because it is a powerful antidote against what you called category errors, that it makes it possible to think about the diversity of being in a way that is both empirical and diplomatic.

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