The Attack on Charlie Hebdo and the Tradition of Parisian Wit – NYTimes.com

It has to be said that Charlie Hebdo is an unlikely victim of such unjustified violence. For most Parisians these days, the magazine is a quaint relic of the ’60s and ’70s that has long since lost its power to shock…

2503474-cabu-charb-mort-de-jean-cabut-et-stephane-charbonnier-tues-de-sang-froidGEORGES WOLINSKI CHEZ LUI A PARIS

To some extent, this was reflected in the ages of two prominent figures who were killed: the brilliant and much-loved cartoonists Jean Cabut (or Cabu) and Georges Wolinski were, respectively, 76 and 80. Most important, they belonged to the generation of May 1968 — the generation that had revolted against the heavy hand of Charles de Gaulle’s paternalism with a belief in unlimited liberty, unrestrained sexual behavior, drug taking and, above all, the freedom to mock all forms of moral and religious authority.

Charlie Hebdo’s relentless pursuit of provocation — or “la provoc” in slangy French — belongs to a very Parisian tradition. It dates to before the French Revolution, when it was termed “L’esprit frondeur,” or “slingshot wit.” (A “fronde” was a catapult used to hurl stones at the king in times of insurrection.)…

What was gunned down on Wednesday in Paris was a generation that believed foremost in the freedom to say what you like to whomever you like. Parisians pride themselves on what they call “gouaille,” a kind of cheeky wit, based on free thinking and a love of provocation, that always stands in opposition to authority.

The awful killings are the direct opposite of all that: the merciless massacre of the Parisian mind.

via The Attack on Charlie Hebdo and the Tradition of Parisian Wit – NYTimes.com.

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