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The lockdown from the outside

“The contagion then wins and everyone starts trying to fix things in secret.”

Originally published by Lundi Matin. Translated by Enough 14.

We had received this text several weeks ago, in full lockdown, and we had as stupidly as unfortunately misplaced it. When we found it in the middle of a mountain of paper, we remembered that we should never expect anything from the daily news.

The lockdown from outside La Ferblanterie. [1] April 2020.


He’s never been outside, but he’s familiar with the world. He knows the sea well. The sea is constantly beneath him, a sea without water, but not without waves, but not without expanse. He knows rivers well. They cross him constantly, without water but not without width, but not without sudden torrents. [2]

In this time of remoteness, the neighbourhood vibrates with a new or rather original and strange intensity, to say the least; at the entrance to the industrial zone, for a time free of noise of trucks and cars, a long endless Sunday looms… The Fairground Square, usually inanimate, becomes overnight a purgatory where slow and solitary souls, reduced to patience or indefinite waiting, move around. The inhabitants, haggardly, cross the square or remain on the threshold of their homes, the imposed lockdown measures seem to reveal the ordinary and voluntary confinements that make this half-rural, half-industrial zone we inhabit a ghost town. Lost walkers seem to be looking for lost connections, unknown trajectories and possible gestures of mutual aid; they sometimes venture to La Ferblanterie or avoid it, always questioning or on the lookout for what might be happening – where nothing is happening. They bring back things to be repaired in their hands and then sneak away, just as they had come. We are entering, so to speak, a time of clandestine exchange; any sharing, any encounter has become suspicious, subject to mistrust… the mill remains this point of escape or convergence where people come to question this boundary between the town and the hillside, between the industrial area and the woods, between the closed and the open, with attention and caution… The contagion then wins and everyone starts trying to fix things in secret, all things that are usually left behind…

Another day it is the silent rurality that prevails, the place becomes more and more deserted, visits become rare. Did people hide? Is it the effect of shock that operates, the maintenance of order that has become indisputable? Have we become our own guardians, patrollers or watchmen to regulate our own inconsistent and deviant behaviour? The questions spin in our heads, are we instruments of a power that exercises its morality and its odious semblance of control to further falsify, to compensate for its incompetence and carelessness? A whole population is in a state of shock, seized by the separation of bodies, the distortion of the social bonds – a fortiori where it was hanging on by a thread – with the deleterious effects of repression and violence observed from all sides.

The visible desert [3] that we usually know, “created by the urban planning of capital,” has suddenly become the visible desert.

In villages where there is a kind of permanent self-confinement, people remember that they could go out and connect with the outside world; perhaps it is then, in moments, in places, this distant resurgence of connections that promotes new forms of self-organization, while at the same time revealing what is unacceptable and detrimental to the common sense in this world.

Will concrete situations produce multiple and new ramifications? New arrangements? A time of fallow is imposed on us if it was not already imposed by the situation; questions of autonomy and/or dependence are exacerbated, as are dysfunctions and inequalities that are spreading on all sides. The “first necessities” are not exclusively commercial, as we keep repeating, linked to mass distribution; they are this propensity to create networks of alliances, a tight network of connections and areas of exchange, of intertwined histories; “Human beings get involved and need each other, enter into composition. » [4]

According to Henri Lefebvre, the theory of moments [5], which is partly depending on a free physical circulation, has come to a standstill; will we find it more and more difficult to move from one moment to another, from one territory, one field of investigation or one repertoire of gestures to another, as our bodies will end up being prevented from doing so; does it come up against one of its limits? We are held in the hypostasized moment, WHICH WORKS IN ABSOLUTE; this temptation of the absolute having always been at the basis of our desires to marry or to experience the moment.

A sign from this stationary landscape, shaken by the necessities of spring and the calling from the outside.


Mornings and Solar walkers

“The Solar walkers or wanderers have nowadays almost completely disappeared from the towns and forests where they used to be seen. Affable and untied, they used to talk with the inhabitants, the time to put down their pouches and collect their belongings. The inhabitant, the moved imagination, gave them bread, wine, salt and raw onion; if it was raining, straw. ” [6]

About five or six days ago, a Solar walker similar in every way to those described by Char was walking around here… The first time he came, he put down his bag and then took it back, while we had a little chat… then he came back the next day with a tent gleaned here and there and we gave him some food, a sleeping bag, enough to make a fire, showing him some possible meadows where to settle… And then there was no doubt that we were the residents, the confined people… and he in this impossible time of confinement could no longer even go to take refuge with the monks of Poligny, here or there, He was called Serge Blin, as the name of the wanderers could be René Mazon, Eglin Ambrozane or Diane Cancel… and, listening to him, we had to call a certain Claude – like Claude Palun – who had opened a place for him in Tonnerre but where he didn’t want to go any more because of the presence of naughty clever clogs – naughtier than him – who were making a fuss… So he settled in a field further away, near the river to do his sun incantations and other daytime rituals … but too much in sight and two days later he was picked up, handcuffed and carried away by the gendarmerie on the riverbank, which had in no way renounced its zeal and brutality. Since then, there has been no more news.

It is a free body that is thus put in a hut for no other reason than this restriction of fundamental freedoms, a body in movement, in search of this elusive legitimacy, in other words a right to exist coupled with a sovereign right, that of circulating and recognising itself without any ties.

In this detestable moment of separation and compartmentalization, whoever has chosen to be and live outside, outside the marked circuits, can stay even less in this indeterminate – and proscribed – outside than in normal times?

“Just as certain species cease to be counted and disappear from the soil and the curiosity of the living, the libertarian vagabonds, still numerous at the beginning of the century, no longer find grace today in the face of the social, political and police demands of the modern state, this beggar colossus.”

“The vagrant is less and less seen in our countryside, even the most altruistic. Let us renew to these comrade poets, soon to be exterminated, the assurance of our sincere solidarity…” [7]”


[1] La Ferblanterie is an old mill, a place of life, reception and passages located in Rivey-Les Bordes; it has vocation, throughout the year, to welcome collective moments, work groups, times of research as well as concerts.

[2] Henri Michaux, Vers la sérénité, in La nuit remue.

[3] (…) the urbanism of capital creates the visible desert where all perspectives lead to bewilderment and loss. Giorgio Ceserano, Manuel de survie, Editions La Tempête, translation Benjamin Vilari.

[4] Isabelle Stengers, Résister au désastre, éditions Wildproject.

[5] Henri Lefebvre, La théorie des moments, in La somme et le reste.

[6] René Char, Les Transparents, introduction text, in Les matinaux

[7] René Char, Introduction to the first edition of Transparents.

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