Urban Arabesques examines philosophy as an event of the city and the city as an event of philosophy and how the intertwining of the two generates an urban imaginary. This critique-in-motion of creative figures and conceptual personae from (non) philosophy illuminates the emergence of sense in the city, shows how “transcendental empiricism” operates within it, and how the everyday life of the streets—the ordinariness of experience as well as the screen/projector of urban surfaces—uncovers new pathways for politics, experience, and relationalities.
Using Hong Kong as the primary site of thinking yet recognizing that thinking incessantly moves beyond any particular location, the book opens up cities within the city. Traversing Hong Kong reveals how the corners, the money, the trees and the water are involved in philosophy. Combining the linguistic approach found in Heidegger and Derrida, with the more materialist analysis of Serres and Deleuze, the objective of this book is to retheorize the urban and its imaginary—its virtuality, irreality, phantasmicity—with an emphasis on signs, images and rhythms, resonating through philosophy, and beyond.
Introduction: Threshold: Arabesques, Hong Kong, and the Material Poetics of Philosophy
1. Cities Within the City: Traversing the Streets
2. The Arabesques of the Urban: Foliage, Frames, and Twists
3. Thinking Streets: Transversal Empiricism
4. The Lobster, Unleashed: The Peculiarity of Philosophy
5. Ghost Money: TransRational Cash and the Non-Modern
6. Kino-Surfaces: Cinematic Streets
7. Politics on the Streets: The Pink Panther, Yellow Umbrellas, and a Prolepsis
8. Street Walking: The Peripatetics of Thinking
9. Stepping Outside: Rhythms of the Streets
10. Everyday Life and the Urban Arabesque
Looking at the urban space in this manner is new and provides an alternative to the Benjaminian image of the city that has become a commonplace in philosophical oriented urban studies. Centering on Hong Kong as a global city (Saskia Sassen) is important as much of the earlier work focuses on North America (Las Vegas) or Europe (Paris).