At the risk of the unknown


by Anne Dufourmantelle. Translated by Jeremy Fernando

At the risk of inviting a woman to rock dance and whispering to her:

« close your eyes ».


At the risk of leaving in a car for dinner in the city and ending up in Rome, the next day, after having rolled all night, because of a change of mind.


At the risk of having seen your man, for the fiftieth time, declining the offer of the small Pakistani seller of (withered) roses, and buying from him the entire load to offer to all who were there in the room.


At the risk of sleepless nights.


At the risk of writing to one, almost unknown, a love letter brought on by an almost nothing which will have just then crossed you in a dazzling unknown.


At the risk of not ceasing to make love.


At the risk of praying without the help of any God, or even with.


At the risk of friendship, hidden, mad, profound, infinite.

Worse than a love.


At the risk of ennui, and loving that ennui without help.


Dorian Gray, Yanyun Chen, 2015


At the risk of walking alone in a city and waiting for, at that instant, the sense of a lifetime, knowing that the next day everything will disappear.


At the risk of listening to The Passion according to Saint Matthew by Bach endlessly.


At the risk of taking on oneself the responsibility devolved to another,
everything except a principle of precaution.


At the risk of going back to the beach of small glass pebbles frosted by the sea
and then dispersing them, in the evening.


At the risk of a communism of thought.


At the risk of joy.




Excerpted from Éloge du risque, Anne Dufourmantelle, Paris: Payot & Rivages, 2014, 115-116.

About the Authors:

Anne Dufourmantelle (1964–2017) was a French philosopher and psychoanalyst. She posits that risk is an essential part of life, an integral part of living, of being alive: for, « being completely alive is a task, it’s not at all a given thing. It’s not just about being present to the world, it’s being present to yourself, reaching an intensity that is in itself a way of being reborn ». On July 21, 2017, Anne died whilst attempting to rescue two children caught in dangerously turbulent waters off Pampelonne beach in Ramatuelle. Lifeguards eventually reached the children, who survived; but she could not be resuscitated.

Jeremy Fernando reads, and writes; and is the Jean Baudrillard Fellow at The European Graduate School. He works in the intersections of literature, philosophy, and the media; is the general editor of both Delere Press and the thematic magazine One Imperative; and is a Lecturer & Fellow of Tembusu College at The National University of Singapore.