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shewhomust

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Je suis Charlie (tendance mensuel) [Jan. 9th, 2015|12:29 pm]
shewhomust
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The massacre at the offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo is one of those horrible events about which it feels wrong to remain silent, and yet about which I have nothing helpful to say. I've been trying and failing to put my thoughts in order. Then this morning brought the news that the Mayor of Paris had called a special council meeting to declare Charlie Hebdo an Honorary Citizen of Paris. I don't know what to say about this, either, but if Charlie Hebdo doesn't have something rude to say about this well-intentioned mark of respect from the establishment - well, then it isn't the magazine I thought it was!

It's true that when I think of Charlie Hebdo, I think first of all of its predecessor Hara-Kiri, whose masthead declared it a journal bête et méchant. The story goes that the editors received a letter from an disgruntled reader, saying in effect that "you are stupid, and what's more, you're nasty, too" and, delighted with the accuracy of this summary, they made it their rallying cry. This, surely, is the spirit in which Charlie Hebdo (re)published the cartoons of the prophet Mohammed. Salman Rushdie puts it in measured terms when he says: "I stand with Charlie Hebdo, as we all must, to defend the art of satire, which has always been a force for liberty and against tyranny, dishonesty and stupidity. 'Respect for religion' has become a code phrase meaning 'fear of religion'. Religions, like all other ideas, deserve criticism, satire, and, yes, our fearless disrespect."

On this basis I, too, stand with Charlie Hebdo; but I've never bought a copy, nor of Hara-Kiri, either. My disrespect is not as fearless as theirs, but I don't enjoy their satirical savagery either. I was, during the year I spent in France, in the early 70s, a regular purchaser of the monthly Charlie magazine (which didn't yet need to identify itself by adding the distinction 'mensuel' in the title, because the weekly magazine had not yet become Charlie Hebdo). This was a comics magazine, an eclectic mixture of strips in which translations of Andy Capp and Peanuts (from which it took its title) sat alongside the rather sleazy eroticism of Paulette, drawn by Georges Pichard and scripted by Wolinski, who was also at the time the editor in chief. I think there were also some of Wolinski's own cartoons - I have a vague memory of some rather scribbly little drawings with a cynical sense of humour, but they didn't appeal to me enough to stay clearly in my memory, and the internet is not being helpful. That's just my taste: Wolinski was well enough regarded in the comics world to be given the Grand prix de la ville d'Angoulême - a sort of lifetime achievement award - by the annual comics festival. He was enough part of my mental furniture that my first reaction on learning he was among the dead on Wednesday was that I hadn't realised he was still alive. He was 80.

The widely reposted affirmation Je suis Charlie has been echoing in my mind with the soixante-huitard slogan Je suis Marxiste (tendance Groucho), and that's the riff I've taken for my title. But the truth is that I am not really Charlie at all. Je suis Pilote: Pilote was my publication of choice, the magazine of Astérix and Obélix, among so many other great strips. And that's where I met Cabu, another of the victims of Wednesday's attack: which is why I was surprised to find him classified among the pitiless satirists, because I associate him with Le Grand Duduche, a gangling teenage schoolboy. I refer you, with apologies, to the Telegraph obituary, because I can't find anything in the Guardian.

In other words, someone else will have to write tributes to all those killed, and what great people they were, and what talented artists - and fortunately the internet is full of people doing just that. All I have is: wait, I know these people! These are comics people! File under No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend's or of thine own were; any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind... except that perversely, humanly, I am the less because the manor that has been washed away is my friends'.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: cmcmck
2015-01-09 12:53 pm (UTC)
The Pope did a requiem mass for the victims which might just suggest that he has a warped sense of humour, especially as two were Muslims and one Jewish.

Aussi

Je Suis Ahmed

Je suis Mustapha


The mag usually goes out at 60,000 copies.

The next one will go out at a million..............
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[User Picture]From: shewhomust
2015-01-09 05:53 pm (UTC)
I knew they'd stepped up the print run dramatically. You know that when they became Charlie Hebdo, they ran the line "L'Hebdo Hara-Kiri est mort. Lisez Charlie Hebdo, le journal qui profite du malheur des autres"? Looks like they aren't squeamish about profiting from their own misfortunes, either.

I have nothing but admiration for this sheer unsentimental consistency - but truly, you could not make it up.
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[User Picture]From: cmcmck
2015-01-09 05:57 pm (UTC)
The killers are now also dead and no doubt burning in Jahannam as we speak.

Wonder what they'll make of that?
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[User Picture]From: shewhomust
2015-01-09 08:40 pm (UTC)
I don't regard this as an entirely satisfactory outcome. There are questions to which we will now never know the answers...
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[User Picture]From: cmcmck
2015-01-11 11:39 am (UTC)
I'm not sure it's satisfactory but I'm not sure a show trial would have been either.
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[User Picture]From: cmcmck
2015-01-09 01:17 pm (UTC)
I have Muslim neighbours and they're badly scared by all this given the rise of the far right here in the UK.
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[User Picture]From: cmcmck
2015-01-09 01:41 pm (UTC)
I'm in the UK but spend time in France pretty regularly.

We're all immigrants when it comes down to it- I count as English by birth, but I have Scottish, Welsh, Italian, Breton, Latvian Jewish and Romani ancestry.

There's a song line that I love:

'Everyone's from somewhere
Even if you've never been there'
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[User Picture]From: cmcmck
2015-01-09 02:20 pm (UTC)
It's getting worse!

There's now another siege at a kosher supermarket (and we all know what that means) in Porte de Vincennes!

I'm friending if you don't mind? I keep my blog locked so I'll make sure you can get in.
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[User Picture]From: shewhomust
2015-01-09 06:06 pm (UTC)
I am very happy that my rather confused post has provided a place for people to meet and discuss.

And, oh dear, the news just keeps getting worse!
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[User Picture]From: durham_rambler
2015-01-09 09:01 pm (UTC)
David Cameron has tweeted
I've accepted President Hollande's invitation to join the Unity Rally in Paris this Sunday - celebrating the values behind #CharlieHebdo.

Well, I am pleased he’s going because he is representing the British people, which includes me. But if he is celebrating the values behind #CharlieHebdo this must be something of a first. The thought did raise a smile at this sad time.
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[User Picture]From: shewhomust
2015-01-10 08:57 pm (UTC)
I hope all goes well. I share your reservations about demonstrations.
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