Being Charlie – Updated

Seems the “next Charlie Hebdo cover” is really this one:
TPM Livewire explains what I think was more an honest mistake by many tweeps than any kind of hoax:

The image was originally from a satirical French comedy show, “Les Guignols de l’Info,” which paid tribute to the newspaper on Thursday night.

“Urgent, Hiring 6 Cartoonists,” the fake cover read, referencing the slain staffers of the satirical magazine after gunmen stormed the offices on Tuesday.

The satirical puppet show offered its own irreverent humor about the aftermath of the massacre, displaying the fake cover, showing several puppets wearing “I Am Charlie” T-shirts, and lampooning French politician Marine Le Pen.

Although the screenshot from “Guignols” was passed around social media as the real thing, several Twitter users chimed in to say the image was fake.

In some ways the “Les Guignols…” version may still qualify as the “next,” or the next before the next… In any event I think my comments from before still mostly apply.


next_charlie#JeSuisCharlie seems initially radically un-Charlie, a discovery of reverence among the irreverent impelled by the attack of the reverent or would-be reverent on the reverently would-be irreverent. #JeSuisCharlie in being irreverent via reverence to the reverentially irreverent is both absurd and serious, knowing and naive, utterly treacherous and fiercely loyal. I like how well Charlie, which really is Charlie if anyone is Charlie, as post-Charlie Charlie but still, responsibly, the same “irresponsible journal,” addresses the matter, also irreverently, so reverentially irreverent and irreverently reverential: The cover of their new, post-atrocity issue lacks any images to offend, so immediately is a defeat. It is black or mainly black, so gives a sign of respectful mourning. Its content, however, is in the form of a want ad: “Urgent: Seeking Six Cartoonists,” so utterly self-irreverent, or a tribute to the spirit of the murdered colleagues, both grief-stricken and comical at once, and a promise of victories, or of partial and contradictory victories which may be the only victories it can know, to come.

16 comments on “Being Charlie – Updated

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  1. CKM: I suppose you’re anticipating that I have an unpleasantly offensive take on the Charlie Hebdo massacre–and indeed I do, but I guess I’ll hold off on it for the time being.

    I did, however, want to aver that I at least like the way you’re “framing” the issue–as the contrariety (or perhaps, in your view, the complementarity) of reverence and irreverence.

    Now, if I might recur to the distinction between the noble and the base: Is reverence noble or base? Is irreverence noble or base? Is Charlie Hebdo noble or base?

    I realize there are a multitude of possible answers to these questions–I’d be interested in hearing yours.

    • Seems to me that revering the base would be base, and revering the noble would be noble, but that satire can be reverent if “the gaze fixed squarely on consummate negativity delineates the mirror-image of its opposite.” Until now, Charlie Hebdo may have always only or mostly failed, but perhaps now it must be judged a success, even if despite itself and against all its imperfections past and future.

      Thanks for withholding the unpleasantly offensive take. The world is much with me these days.


        • Why, just what it says, although the immediate implicit or proximate reference was to the Holocaust and “what the Germans have done,” in the final paragraph – entitled, exquisitely as well as perfectly Zum Ende – of Adorno’s Minima Moralia (1949), which also will go on my site list even though it worked its influence on me before there was an internet (at least for more than a handful of civilians):

          The only philosophy which can be responsibly practised in face of despair is the attempt to contemplate all things as they would present themselves from the standpoint of redemption. Knowledge has no light but that shed on the world by redemption: all else is reconstruction, mere technique. Perspectives must be fashioned that displace and estrange the world, reveal it to be, with its rifts and crevices, as indigent and distorted as it will appear one day in the messianic light. To gain such perspectives without velleity or violence, entirely from felt contact with its objects—this alone is the task of thought. It is the simplest of things, because the situation calls imperatively for such knowledge, indeed because consummate negativity, once squarely faced, delineates the mirror-image of its opposite. But it is also the utterly impossible thing, because it presupposes a standpoint removed, even though by a hair’s breadth, from the scope of existence, whereas we well know that any possible knowledge must not only be first wrested from what is, if it shall hold good, but is also marked, for this very reason, by the same distortion and indigence which it seeks to escape. The more passionately thought denies its conditionality for the sake of the unconditional, the more unconsciously, and so calamitously, it is delivered up to the world. Even its own impossibility it must at last comprehend for the sake of the possible. But beside the demand thus placed on thought, the question of the reality or unreality of redemption itself hardly matters.


            • Reduced to its most basic elements and divorced from context, it will come out trite: The worst properly and unflinchingly viewed may produce as its reverse image the best, which latter cannot be made out or described any other way.

              • Okay–this reminds me of the comment you made over at the “Will’s Affront” thread, the one that began: “Maybe, I’m lucky I don’t speak pig-latin”. I’ve been meaning to return to that comment.

                Precisely because that comment featured examples that I thought were lewd, I was initially alienated by it. Upon further reflection, I became intrigued by it.

                What I came to see in that comment was the recognition of a pattern that is at least similar to the so-called Hegelian dialectic. Now, I’m a perfect layman in this as in all things, but–to the extent I understand it, or at least think I do–the dialectic goes something like this: A/-A/-(-A).

                In the context of that comment, I came to see that you were suggesting that phenomena like the gay “cruising” scene, replete with bathhouse orgies, occupied something like the middle term of that process. As in:

                1) Traditional sexual morality

                2) -(Traditional sexual morality)

                Which might lead to:

                3 -(-Traditional sexual morality)

                Similarly, one might wonder about ancient or classical sexual morality giving rise to its “negation”: Christian sexual morality. Which might eventuate in a modern sexual morality in which the proverbial twain shall meet.

                Anyway–assuming that I’ve read you correctly or am even in the ball park–I do think that’s an interesting prospect.

                I know you’re hard-pressed for time, but I would indeed be interested in hearing more about this–whether in the context of the Charlie Hebdo affair or anything else.


                • Well, that is dialectical logic in broad strokes, in a format that is discernable within Hegel’s method, if never endorsed by him in such terms explicitly, and if rarely to never employed as simply. The reason I wouldn’t apply it directly to sexual morality or anything else is evident in the example. The “double negation” of -(-A) gives an appearance of precision, but doesn’t really tell us anything yet, and also hides imprecisions and unspecified assumptions under A and -A – which latter are compounds and syntheses of compounds and syntheses all the way down.

                  This problem or a version of it is arguably, central to Adorno’s project and to his insistence on “felt contact with [the] objects [of thought],” what he also called “immanent critique” (similar in concept both to Straussian critique as well as to “deconstruction” properly understood) and which finally culminated in Negative Dialectics – his last major work. which critiques Sartre and Heidegger in alternating breaths, and which, while extending the thought outlined in “Zum Ende,” rescues a dying ember of Marxism or left Hegelianism, but in a way that infuriated many of the Marxists and other self-styled revolutionaries of his day.

                  I’ll add ND to the book list, because a) why not? and b) it includes another statement I frequently cite, on the betrayal by those who favor “communication” at the expense of “that which is to be communicated.” Adorno’s approach actually relates well to that discussion on the other thread on god concepts, but I’ll resist the temptation to inflate it in a comment thread to a nothing-explaining theory of everything.

                  • The “double negation” of -(-A) gives an appearance of precision, but doesn’t really tell us anything yet, and also hides imprecisions and unspecified assumptions under A and -A – which latter are compounds and syntheses of compounds and syntheses all the way down.

                    Point taken.

                    I’ll add ND to the book list, because a) why not?

                    By all means–I, for one, am keenly interested in your book recommendations.

                    and b) it includes another statement I frequently cite, on the betrayal by those who favor “communication” at the expense of “that which is to be communicated.”

                    As with the prior allusion to Adorno, I’d like to ask you please to elaborate.




  2. I was reading Candide, and was reminded that the great Lisbon earthquake, was  a strong influence, on Voltaire’s thinking, the atrocity of the 2oth arrondisement demanded something more profound,

    re Fukuyama, as I’ve remarked before, he seems not to understand his own conclusion, the ‘end of history’ was a reset, not an end in itself,

  3. it’s an interesting notion about the Charlie Hebdo massacre, but as with the Aliens in ID 4, the answer is more obvious,

  4. cont’d:

    Shows you how out of practice, distracted I am these days that I would misplace that favorite passage like that. It’s also from MM, not ND – yet when I located it in ND I had a firm mental image of a page in ND, and, if I had the book around, I’d find whatever I some saw there that somehow evoked the passage, which is in fact very much more MM than ND:

    Morality and Style – A writer will find that the more precisely, conscientiously, appropriately he expresses himself, the more obscure the literary result is thought, whereas a loose and irresponsible formulation is at once rewarded with certain understanding. It avails nothing ascetically to avoid all technical expressions, all allusions to spheres of culture that no longer exist. Rigour and purity in assembling words, however simple the result, create a vacuum. Shoddiness that drifts with the flow of familiar speech is taken as a sign of relevance and contact: people know what they want because they know what other people want. Regard for the object, rather than for communication, is suspect in any expression: anything specific, not taken from pre-existent patterns, appears inconsiderate, a symptom of eccentricity, almost of confusion. The logic of the day, which makes so much of its clarity, has naively adopted this perverted notion of everyday speech. Vague expression permits the hearer to imagine whatever suits him and what he already thinks in any case. Rigorous formulation demands unequivocal comprehension, conceptual effort, to which people are deliberately disencouraged, and imposes on them in advance of any content a suspension of all received opinions, and thus an isolation, that they violently resist. Only what they do not need first to understand, they consider understandable; only the word coined by commerce, and really alienated, touches them as familiar. Few things contribute so much to the demoralization of intellectuals. Those who would escape it must recognize the advocates of communicability as traitors to what they communicate.

    As for usefully elaborating on the passage, I’m not sure I can at the moment.

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