• gabriellehalpern

Usbek and Rica: Tomorrow, all places will be third places!

An article published by the media Usbek et Rica, April 30, 2021

Gone are the days when a school was a school, a theater was a theater, a restaurant was a restaurant… Even if a cat will always be a cat! We are witnessing a process of accelerated hybridisation of our world, which is becoming the great trend of our time. It is a proof that we are (almost) done with our anxiety about what does not fit in our boxes; an anguish, which has led us, for centuries [1], to ignore, even to reject everything that, in reality, could seem more or less hybrid, that is to say heterogeneous, contradictory, unbreakable. An anguish that our ancestors in ancient Greece embodied in the figure of the Centaur [2] - a hybrid figure par excellence - almost always described, portrayed or sculpted as threatening. Would the hybrid harm us? This is what we have been convinced for a long time. As we see the world through the lens of identity and homogeneity, we finally begin to understand how hybridisation can be of real opportunity for our society and for those who inhabit it.

Yes, there are other ways of approaching the world than putting it in boxes; we can intersect things, professions, activities, people, intentions, imaginations, identities, interests, radically different, even contradictory, and from this can be born an extraordinary creativity! This is the whole meaning of "third places", in the broad sense. These places are deeply hybrid, since they mix - instead of compartmentalizing or juxtaposing, as is done elsewhere - very heterogeneous activities and very diverse individuals. They upset our categories - and even our whole logic - since we are not used to see in the same place worlds, logics and people so different. Regardless of the prejudices of coherence, identity and contradictions, here it is balance, dialogue and the perpetuation of a "common" that prevail. Contradiction is accepted there, because it is fruitful, while identity is banished, because it is sterile and it creates walls where it would be better to draw bridges. These third places require us to go beyond our categories to welcome and understand them; our old storage cupboards are totally outdated!

Let's mix culture, commerce, care, research, play and sport! Let's mix artisans, startupers, the elderly, artists, manufacturers and teachers! It's time to turn places into landmarks!

[1] Gabrielle Halpern, Thinking the Hybrid, PhD Thesis in Philosophy, 2019. [2] Gabrielle Halpern, “Let us all be Centaurs! A Praise of Hybridisation ", Le Pommier, 2020.

To read the column in full on the Usbek et Rica website: