The Rioter and the Witch

For weeks, the riots filled our screens with their void. What did we see? Fires in the night, enigmatic, faceless youths who disappeared seamlessly into darkness or behind smoke-screens, according to vanishing recipes we know nothing about. Something that refuses to be grasped but traps us in a fascinating anxiety. A possession. Like every magic ritual, a riot is a fleeting moment of perception of the invisible. It corresponds to an instant of intensification, to a charge. Suddenly our perception level increases and we see, as if looming up out of nowhere, another social space with its own connivances, a moment when everything that has been produced in secret is aggregated, illicit witchlike practices whose mode of transmission – like in every ritual – is first and foremost part of a practice, a performance. It is necessary to commit one’s body to receive this unspoken knowledge. By staying outside, one literally understands nothing. It is thinking through experience. Just as a vaudoo rite at nightfall reveals the incredible heartbeat of another world that is hidden during the day, a riot is not a rupture but, as we will try to imagine here, a secret community that briefly reveals itself before returning to its anonymity. The ghostly body of these hooded youths is that abnormal body which warns us that another world exists, beyond the visible.

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