Leonardo: Brouhaha

By Edith Doove

Brouhaha (Lionel Ruffel)The term ‘brouhaha’ with which Lionel Ruffel, who is professor of comparative literature and creative writing at the University of Paris VIII, indicates the messiness that is the contemporary, is well chosen. Usable in both French and English the term points to a certain noisiness. It has a sense of the comic, inviting to laughter due to the ‘haha’ at the end, but it also seems to be onomatopoeia for a burst of laughter. Ruffel however does not talk of laughter, although laughter is an act that is very much ‘in the moment’ and the contemporary escapes, or attempts to escape, any historicising outside of that. Or at least it adheres to a “history [that] is no longer thought of in terms of epochs” (p.10).

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