Tragedy in Paris: A Lesson from Michael Jackson

From under the tragic stupor of the horrors unleashed in Paris, we are urgently ushered to foregone conclusions. The cheerleaders for maintaining the status quo work overtime to ensure blame’s proper placement and the enemy’s clear identification.

Every minute detail will be breathlessly dissected to write the history of now. The gallingly predictable might-makes-right, crime-and-punishment, eye-for-an-eye narratives that buttress all this madness are making their play for hearts and minds.

I am determined to not be counted among the unfortunate dupes of this insidious ruse. Above all, I wish to shout-out humanity, and to join the chorus of an alternative, hopeful narrative, one that we must write. As part of the soundtrack to this appeal to the best humanity has to offer, I submit Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror”:

This is not an aberration… yet.


I encountered this scene as I was on a morning walk today. I was contemplating some of the implications of Slavoj Zizek’s thinking, having only recently been acquainted with it via his latest (and truly transcendant) film: The Pervert’s Guide to Ideology. Can’t recommend it enough. See it. In fact, check out any of his stuff and I guarantee you’ll be amused, challenged and happy you did so.

Back to the picture.  Crisis is coming. Strike that. It’s here. Try though we might to forget about it, we’re enveloped in it. So, what can we do? Do we recoil from this truly tragic imagery? Seek to justify it or explain it away? Or do we allow the unbridled inquisitiveness of our inner child to go down the rabbit hole as far as is necessary to find answers? Perhaps we know that answers only compel deeper questions, the slope of the rabbit hole becoming steeper, our clinging to the rooted illusions of the surface more tenuous…

Question, we must. I mean, we couldn’t help it if we tried. We’re the questioning mammal, after all. That’s what makes us human. And just to be clear, I share the Zizekian optimism regarding humanity’s prospects for the future. This image is a problem to be solved, and there is a solution. What do you think the solution is?