A large number of us Argentines have grown up looking at France; perhaps that’s the reason why the terrorist attacks last November 13 shocked the country in ways that those in Atocha, Madrid, or on the London buses hadn’t in the past. At 7:00 pm all TV channels and radio stations interrupted their programs in order to follow the events in France minute by minute. WhatsApp messages flooded into my phone; phone lines collapsed. Evidently, in the face of horror, after moments of stupefaction, subjects needed to speak with others.
In the wee hours of the night, people started making symbolic gestures in front of the French Embassy or in front of the Alliance Française offices in smaller cities across the country. To many Argentines, Paris works as an idealized, even romantic, symbol. Watching its streets transformed into a horror scene shocked a part of Argentina’s own culture, that which always thinks of Paris “as a joyful place”. Perhaps that’s why, days after the catastrophe, newspaper front pages, conversations at meetings with family and friends, all lead to the same place: Paris ̶ talking about the topic over and over again as an attempt to understand the impossible.
(Jorge Assef in Córdoba, Argentina.)
While Paris is not the only city to have been attacked by Daesh, they did at least specify a reason: that it is ‘la capitale des abominations et de la perversion’. Coming from an organization that has turned Raqqa into the capital of murder, rape and slavery, some kind of perverse correlation is being made. As for pourquoi Daesh? I think that Freud’s analysis of the Nazis might be worth re-reading, along with Lacan on Sade. I think it is a symptom of the historical failure of Islamic civilization. It is a suicidal cult that loathes Islam for this failure and wants to use the West to destroy itself utterly, perhaps so Islam can start again ex nihilo.
(Scott Wilson in Kingston, London, UK.)
When I was a young boy, I would walk to school everyday, day-dreaming that, on arriving, I would be told there had been a catastrophe, that the school had burnt down or been blown away. On Saturday, I woke up and « school » had been cancelled*. Only this time, it is a true nightmare.
*the 45th Journées de l’Ecole de la Cause freudienne scheduled to take place on Saturday 14th and Sunday 15th of November were cancelled after the attacks.
(Ricardo Schabelman, an Argentine in Paris.)
There is no ‘today’s edition’ of Facebook. Facebook presents a continuous stream of posts, one after the other, distributed fairly evenly across the surface of the screen, going on, without end. In this particular sense there is no scansion on Facebook. Each post is discreet, but within the structure of a surface without end. When something terrible happens, as it just did in Paris, something that for many touches on their reals, Facebook becomes a site on which the marks of this touch are given expression. It’s a place where people may seek to make sense and thereby limit what hurts, and the better in so far as that is possible. It allows that those closer to the scene may comfort friends with the knowledge of their safety. It may also be a place, perhaps for those more at a distance from events, to find agreement or to delimit views that are beyond the pail: The slaughter was a false flag attack instigated by Western powers; Borders need to be closed to those beyond the West, totally and immediately; Love to those who share the nomination of a religion with the murderers, or hate; The Tricolore, the flag of Lebanon, another, or none. It goes on. In so far as this is without scansion, it can become little more than a distribution of agreeable or unbearable responses on a surface implying little more than its continuation as surface, there may be little question of finding on Facebook ways to institute a stop, a limit to what hurts. Yet still we must try for what we might get, as difficult as it might be.
(Alasdair Duncan, London, UK.)