I wake up on November 14th 2015 with my annotated copy of Joyce’s Finnegans Wake on the coffee table—234 pages through. CNN covers the Paris attacks from the night prior.
While I type this, news media are confirming the deaths of 128 people, and that number is likely to tick up as the hours move forward in hospitals throughout Paris.
ISIS has taken responsibility; that much we know right now. Police in riot gear, the streets that would fill to the brim every weekend along the Parisian flea markets are now empty. Hugo would weep to see such vibrancy halted, made more to look like Quasimodo’s lonely dwelling in Notre Dame.
128 people gone and dead and soon to be buried, the numbers are staggering. Some of the carnage took place in a theater. A place of art and love and reflections of the human soul will now be forever tarnished as a place where several innocent lives were taken in a soulless act of violence. This act conducted under the ridiculousness of holy war can make a person of relative sanity and human compassion almost laugh in hysteria for the absurdity of such a statement. Holy war? How can such a thing be possible?
I see my copy of Joyce’s dream masterpiece and I have throw it across the room. A work where the world is a hodgepodge of ridiculousness and randomness reigns within that text and I can’t stomach it. We live in that world now. It’s a melting pot boiling over onto the smithy’s floor with no real sense of what the original blueprint was.
September 11th led governments and security agencies to take a more active role in our daily lives, and whether that was legal or not is beside the point. At this stage in the game, we have since moved on.
France’s President Hollande has called this an act of war, the city of lights will go dark for today at least. I stare at the videos in this age of instant information in total shock—the chaos, the running, the falling bodies, the victims just trying to get away, trying to survive the hail of bullets, the reach of the attackers’ explosions.
A new reign of terror has come and it expands far beyond the Parisian borders. This was more than just an attack, this was a symbol.
These attacks continue the tradition that small groups can and always have inflicted the most damage as well as the most change in human society. There is no longer a thin iron curtain that separates our way of life from the extremist cultural violence that plagues the otherwise peaceful Islamic religion. ISIS has vilified the Islamic faith. As the people in Paris now recognize, twisted and misguided men channel their psychotic tendencies under the veil of religious motivation.
In the multi-cultural city of Paris, where Muslims, Christians, Jews, Hindis and atheists all live under the umbrella—albeit with tensions—of inclusion and there is much to be said for this.
However, the world will inevitably see past the benefits of the coming together of East and West and only look through blinders to see the events that took place on the night of Friday November 13th 2015. This will be illustrated as a violent cultural diffusion on American and European airwaves.
Being a product of a post 9/11 culture, I can only attest to what has happened to my generation in the context of this culture, to which I hope I am grossly incorrect.
Once again, Muslims will be depicted with an air of suspicion that 90% of them didn’t ask for. Military actions will take place in Syria and Iraq on the part of French and especially American forces. One way or another, more boots will be on the ground, at first to eliminate a terrorist organization.
Sadly, more investments, more initiatives will be taken to establish a roadmap to peace and democracy, mostly in regions that never asked for it. And soon, the boots on the ground will linger wearily and as history always in a darkly humorous and clichéd manner, will repeat itself, another indignant group of misguided, mentally unstable young men will rise from the gross fissures of humanity and will try again to establish themselves.
128 people have been killed so far, ISIS calls this the first of the Storm, and I am terrified. I am terrified that what I fear may come to pass. I hope I am wrong. Pray for Paris.