I see the need for all the hot takes and opinion status updates in order to find a stable position on grounds that feel frageile after having been shaken up by the horror of attacks – applies both to part of the media as to people posting on social media. Solidarity profile pictures, words about one’s own place in and one’s own view on the attacks, in the context of Paris, of other attacks, of Europe’s refugee situation, of the band’s and the venue’s jewish context, and so on. I understand it but I felt mute. I wondered about this while still lying in my bed, still numb from last night, the collision of the news of the attack on Twitter with being out on a club night, music, alcohol… this surreal feeling that almost has become a new normal. Anyways: For me, nothing seemed appropriate to post. Every sentence that took shape in my head seemed to be a shady appropriation of the attacks. Like the above line about my last night out: It is about me me me instead of the victims. This feels wrong. I rather felt like taking a step back, stand-by. Even retweeting – in all its semi-passive humbleness – seemed almost too much. Even posting my solidarity with victims seemed … stale, empty, formulaic.
Don’t get me wrong: I do see most postings about this as a social effort to reach out to each other, to share fears, connect, to reassure each other, which is all fine and good. Even if they are written in demanding tone. In the face of such attacks the need to reassure one another is simply human. But then human is not simple. I felt less human for reading many of those status updates as misappropriation. Made me feel cynical. As if I was doing human wrong, doing social wrong. I felt like standing back, making room instead of rubbing my point of view all over the attacks. Facebook asking to change avatars to the French national colours was a nauseating shallow peak. I was thankful when Sam Kriss (whom I often appreciate for what I’d call constructive provocation) posted his thoughts on his blog because they made me feel less lost: Sam Kriss – How to politicise a tragedy
“If it’s barbarism to write poetry after Auschwitz, then it’s also barbarism to write thinkpieces after Paris. Don’t politicise; don’t use mass murder to score rhetorical points against your enemies, don’t crow je te l’avais bien dit, don’t play tug-of-war with the bodies, don’t make this about yourself, don’t make this about politics. […]
When it’s deployed honestly, the command to not politicise means to not make someone’s death about something else: it’s not about the issue you’ve always cared about; it’s not about you. To do this is one type of politics. But there’s another. Insisting on the humanity of the victims is also a political act, and as tragedy is spun into civilisational conflict or an excuse to victimise those who are already victims, it’s a very necessary one. There is the politicisation that seizes on death for limited political aims, and then there is the politicisation that would refuse any predetermined script other than the call for liberation. It insists on the political nature of tragedy, not to shunt it towards one or another narrative pit, or to put a left-ish or right-ish filter over the images of bloodshed, but because politics is a way out of all this. Atrocity demands solidarity. Absolute sympathy for the victims; for all victims.”
Sam Kriss’ text also echoes with a reading we had at the Zentralcafé last night: Frank Apunkt Schneider talked about nazi symbolism in german post-punk in the 80s. There were bands in which for the first time after WW2 some young german punks talked/sang/wrote about being nazis in a “we” perspective, right into the face of the elder nazi or ex-nazi generation whose accounting of the past only happened safely at the sidelines of society while in the center people simply didn’t talk about it. Suddenly no one had been a nazi. That silence was deafening. Those punks made people painfully aware of the joy, if not even lust that the nazi generation indeed had taken in humiliating, violating and killing jewish and other people that didn’t fit their sick world view. With faux-affirmative lyrics like “Es war so nett, nett, nett im KZ” (“it was so nice, nice, nice in the concentration camp”) they tried to tear apart the comfy cushions of lies of an elder generation that rejected to face up to its past. Why I’m mentioning this? At the end of his talk Frank Apunkt Schneider made a very necessary dialectical twist: After he had argued for the apparent effectiveness of this back then, he ended with adding the view of the victims and their descendants, and by this showed how this faux-affirmative play with nazi symbolism in the end still is an instrumentalisation of the Shoah for german’s own good that only works if you exclude the point of view of those affected, in short: it only works if you only make it about you.
So… that once more:
Atrocity demands solidarity. Absolute sympathy for the victims; for all victims.
I am aware that my blog post’s point is against its own existence – writing about not-writing in the face of tragedy and confusion. Making it about me. Doing it wrong.
P.S. Wenn ihr Gelegenheit habt , diesen Vortrag, “My Future in the SS” zu besuchen – große Empfehlung. Wie alle Vorträge von Frank Apunkt Schneider. Außerdem hier noch ein Link zu der hervorragenden Filmkritik Georg Seeßlens zu Tarantinos “Inglorious Basterds“, auf die sich in dem Vortrag auch bezogen wurde.