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Yesterday afternoon, an email popped up with the names of the members of the evaluation committee and a date for the possible public defence. It came completely out of the blue, as I was sure this process would take ages. And also, until I read the names of the two women who will scrutinise and judge it, and decide whether I’m ready to become a doctor or not, I think it hadn’t been really real to me that the work is coming to a conclusion. If everything goes well, the defence will take place in first half of June, which means that the verdict of the committee should be ready in early May. After that, preparation will probably occupy more and more of my time, particularly when the theme of the trial lecture is settled, two weeks before the defence. That leaves three months from now where I can get on with my new project. I feel a definite need however to sum it all up before I put the pile of sheets (it won’t be properly printed before it is accepted) on the shelf for a while.
The thesis starts with four introductory chapters. First, I explain what Parisian slam poetry is and why I’ve chosen the title The stage is all the world, and the players are mere men and women: Performance poetry in postcolonial Paris. Parisian slam is open, extremely varied and most performances bring along much of the real life of the performer. Second, I try to clarify which political, socio-geographical and existential questions Parisian slam answers. It was my supervisor who posed me these two fundamental questions. When I began trying to answer them, I realised the evident importance of spelling out this to the reader at an early stage. I claim, nothing less than that the slam session can be seen as a (cosmogonic) return to the pivotal Tennis Court Oath in the early days of the 1789 Revolution where each head – independent of status and rank – is allotted the time to speak and be heard under as equal circumstances as possible.
In addition to this eternal democratic challenge of equality, slam reiterates concerns over alienation and consumption in contemporary life that have been addressed in various artistic milieus since the Situationists. The slammers themselves do not relate to the French politico-artistic movement of the 1950s and 60s, however their sessions are undoubtedly more inclusive to all kinds of poetic subjects, more concerned with real life and more alive than any of the situations the Situationists were capable of creating (see e.g. this description by Guy Debord himself).
Finally, and which I think I find most beautiful about it, is the poetry – the poiesis, the bringing forth or revelation of a truth – of human existence the public and participative performances search for, and sometimes reach. Now, time for other commitments. More summing up later.
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