ORIGIN early 17th cent.: via French from Italian gazzetta, originally gazeta de la novità (because the news-sheet sold for a gazeta, a Venetian coin of small value)

Friday, January 9, 2015

Je suis Charlie

Liberty is at the very heart of what France and the French stand for. And that liberté was violently and brutally attacked on Tuesday when terrorists murdered twelve French citizens at the offices of Charlie Hebdo, a French satirical magazine whose cartoons and opinions pieces have spared no one since the early 1990s. As expressed by Sarah Diligenti-Pickup, the Executive Director of Washington DC's Alliance Française, Charlie Hebdo's cartoonists and writers do their work "because they put freedom first and foremost… Charlie Hebdo is and always will be a monument of French Culture."

Upon learning of such atrocities, one loses hope. Such acts are not only senseless but barbaric, evil, and an affront to what civilized nations and peoples hold most dear. In America, we have political cartoonists who dare to mock the injustices of this world, but to my knowledge nothing comes close to France's Charlie Hebdo: its irreverence, its daring, its scorn, its ridicule… and its bravery in the face of threats from fundamentalists and thugs.

In her letter to the members of Washington DC's Alliance Française, Sarah quoted (in French) an excerpt of Paul Valery's poem Liberté, written in 1942. I offer here my translation of that excerpt.

In my schoolchild notebooks
On my desk and on trees
In the sand in the snow
I write your name

On all the pages read 
On all the blank pages 
Stone blood paper or ash
I write your name

And by the power of a word
I begin my life again
I was born to know you
To name you


from Paul Valery's poem, Liberté, Les Éditions de Minuit

This illustration gives me hope:

"Break one, thousand will rise," by Lucille Cler

Those demonstrating all over the world are hopeful, too.

A scene from Union Square in New York City, Wednesday night.

Finally, 87-year old Uderzo pays tribute to Charlie Hebdo.

 Uderzo et Astérix, profondément révoltés