“L ‘enfer, c’est les autres” 

William Echols


Blood was still wet on the theatre floor; guns trained on other human beings and extinguishing life after life with clinical efficiency. Rock and roll joie de vivre ripped apart by heavy metal; lives ravaged by hate.

Four had already died in twin suicide bombings at the Stade de France. One hundred shell casings steaming on the pavements at Le Carillon and Le Petit Cambodge.

Death showers at the corner of Rue Fontaine au Roi and Rue Faubourg du Temple; at Rue de Charonne; at Comptoir Voltaire.  Is this not the heart of terror; to instill fear in millions with the deaths of dozens?  But before the dust had settled, before the last drop of blood was to be spilt — the last spark of life to be extinguished through the last rites of the death cult — social media was ablaze with a sanctimonious fire that was all about the self but unburdened by righteousness.

It was not difficult to imagine, reading such torturous words, the wild eyes reflected in the halcyon glow of monitors around the world; appropriating the ongoing tragedy to their pet causes, petty resentments and private well springs of hate.  Autacoidal anger paints irises black; drips down their tongues, their fingers; keyboards turned the color of ink ponds at midnight — transparent optical fibers glowing red with rage.

When just over three dozen deaths had been confirmed, Julian Assange tweeted to some imagined enemy in his fevered mind that it’s “not so funny now, is it”, as if anyone had ever been laughing.

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Across the Atlantic and political spectrum, a motley crew of US conservatives were emitting the collective hate of America the resentful; a miasma of guns, muslims, migrants, trigger words and other assorted grievances of the perpetually aggrieved

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And some in Russia, whose national psyche has been transmogrified by the distilled venom of angry white insecure Christian rage and fallen-great power resentment; where empathy escaped finding its way into the cultural fabric, channeled the rhetorical wretch of Fox News through its own cyrillic script.

France, through its orgy of tolerance, its position as the epicenter of Gayropa, its failed foreign policy in Syria, had brought this on itself. It’s never too early to say I told you so, even if people are still choking on their own blood. “That’s what you get for thinking you’re better than other people”, they argue from a place of unattenuated moral, cultural, intellectual and/or spiritual superiority.  Yes, that is what you get.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian activists were attempting to appropriate dead Parisian bodies for their own “battle against terrorism.”  Some said what is happening in Paris right now (as in RIGHT NOW) happens in Eastern Ukraine everyday.  No, no it doesn’t.

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And then the half-cocked actuaries of human life; the whataboutists peddling their fallacies of relative privation, the bean counters of Eros and Thanatos.  Dyed-in-the-wool individualists using leftist reductionism to advocate some sliding scale of collective punishment for that vast abstraction of life that, unlike them, is formless.  The “this isn’t about religion” religious monsters viewing ISIS and French society as coequal.

No end of the ideological spectrum, it seems, offered shelter from the madness.  No permutation of political thought was not a prism through which to penn political poison; no strand pulled from the binding force of “religio” free from getting caught up in the noose.

For behind religion and politics, there is nothing more than people.  And for many,  no matter what flag they flag, be it black or white, nothing trumps the need for narcissistic self-satisfaction.  For solipsists in a social media age, death through political or religious violence is little more than a sacrifice on the alter of failed ideals.  If only they had listened to you…TO YOU!

During the 1960s, the phrase “the personal is political” became a second-wave feminist rallying cry of awareness, a rhetorical means of connecting the dots between personal experience and the structures, political and otherwise, in which we live and interact.


But one could also flip the subject and predicate: “The political is personal.” Politics is so often a proxy for some other deep-seated trauma.  World events and the lives and deaths of other people become nothing more than the ammunition for sublimated rage and humiliation; political ideologies another way of asserting dominance for those who have refractorily wrestled with their sense of subjugation.

For many, the orgy of murder in Paris was reconceptualized as another hammer to strike out at the world with, a world which had fallen short of their own normative values of justice.  Beyond politics, beyond nationalities, beyond religion, to see a person’s neurosis is to understand why, time and time again, many were unable to connect with those who were actually dying in that moment.

From node after node of self-contained bubbles battling along the front lines of intersection, there is no room for quiet moments of reflection on lives that were very much like yours.  A warrior for humanity couldn’t find a split second to not keep score.  A cross carrier was more focused on taking oblique shots at everyone and everything he hates.  A secularist dipping his quill into a dead man’s guts to scriven 140 characters in crimson on the inappropriateness of  requesting prayer in an avowedly secular society.


Yes, after Friday night, the words of Sartre rang more truly than ever: “Hell is other people.”

Pray for Paris? Pray for us all.


4 thoughts on ““L ‘enfer, c’est les autres” 

  1. The irony here is that the “bandwagon” types who saw the tragedy and just expressed condolences and changed their profiles pics are probably the most morally correct people in this situation. No false equivalencies, no whataboutery or Schadenfreude. They did about as much as they can do- express sympathy.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Once I started seeing people caste aspersion on others for the supposed hypocrisy of posting French flags over their profile pictures or “exploiting” the tragedy to post their own holiday pics, I thought to myself, what angry, angry little creatures you are. I understand misanthropy, but don’t make this about them, it’s all about you.


      • Oh yeah, today I was informed, by an article no less, that changing your profile pic to a French flag won’t actually stop ISIS. And boy howdy was I shocked! I thought ever since I put that filter over my pic, ISIS fighters were dying left and right, their heads exploding from nothing other than the sheer pressure of will and sympathy for France. Turns out I was totally wrong!


      • It’s so easy to pretend as if people are even attempting to replace solutions with empty gestures when that suites your own need to shit on people. Because really, that countless stream of people saying if only you’ll use the French flag filter and sing Imagine, ISIS will disappear into thin air under the force of our saccharine solidarity.


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