the city yet to come

In general, I try to distinguish between what one calls the future and “l’avenir.” The future is that which–tomorrow, later, next century–will be. There is a future which is predictable, programmed, scheduled, foreseeable. But there is a future, l’avenir (to come) which refers to someone who comes whose arrival is totally unexpected.

For me that is the real future: that which is totally unpredictable. The Other who comes without my being able to anticipate their arrival. So if there is a real future beyond this other known future, it is “l’avenir” in that it’s the coming of the Other, when I am completely unable to foresee their arrival.

–Jacques Derrida, “derrida” (2002)

If l’avenir is always the meeting of the Other, the unknown, the unpredictable future, then we meet this Other, we lock eyes with this unforseeable future, almost every day in a chance encounter on the city’s streets.


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