|Saint-Cybard at Plassac-Rouffiac, |
Today is the first day that I am able to look up from Charlie Hebdo covers, to think about other horizons of France. I've always been keenly aware of my distance from events in Paris and how that is shaping my perception of what they might mean or signify. Conversations with friends near and far have added layers (the protests by children of immigrants in the1980s for full inclusion in French society, the betrayal of the political left, the long tradition of caricature in French society, the difference between a caricature and a racist caricature). Those layers in turn are having a double effect of discovery and uncovering. Here, again, I marvel at the English language and its two distinct words (in French, there is only "découvrir" for both). Discovery here, would be the presence of something new in the public sphere (the Isaiah/Jesus/Mohammad image, the Charlie Hebdo images, for examples); uncovering would be the revelation of something that has been there all along but has been hidden from the majority public sphere (the exclusion and racism that, now, generations of immigrants experience in the suburbs of Paris and cities in France; a questioning (at least) of who has the freedom to ridicule whom and on what terms; the impossibility of a racist caricature of a white person in a white-dominant society, racist caricature relying as it does on an exaggeration (a shift in scale) of ethnic traits that are held up for ridicule). Both discovery and uncovering are happening in France and on the global media stage, I would imagine in scales ranging from new security measures at your local Monoprix store to a re-evaluation of the operations of poverty and exclusion to re-affirmations of the very best of French humanist principles.
|Plassac-Rouffiac on a different scale|