When Stephane Hessel published the pamphlet in 2010, he spoke of indignation (in this case, better translated in English by outrage) as the first step in resisting against infamy.
Stephane Hessel – who knew a thing or two about Resistance and who was one of the editors of the Universal Declaration of Rights – died in February 2013. Were he still alive, I would say: Speak to us about resistance now. The how, the what, the when, the where. Outrage alone leads to apathy or violence – both caused by overload.
Living and writing in outrageous times. Where to put the energy. How to use it.
At my level of the social strata, two observations from yesterday’s current news. At one extreme, the glitz and glamour images from the yearly pageant called the Oscars. I looked at some of the online bits and thought: but of course! If someone were tempted to do a rewrite on the world of the Greek Gods and Goddesses, here it is – one of the versions of Olympus now. Beauty, Envy, Bickering – the ancient Greeks saw their heroes and gods as superhuman in all their appetites.
Then, to keep things at the human-human level, a walk through the latest municipal bulletin. A coat of fresh paint at the sports club. Clean up on shrubbery. Repair of busted water mains. Clamp down on folks who leave their garbage outside the bins and/or don’t clean up after their dog. Plus, in the Tribune Libre back page where members of the Opposition express their views, the outlandish (and rather funny) charge that begins with: The new school reform will lower standards even more. There follows a text I couldn’t resist marking up for spelling and grammar mistakes. The nub of the article – ah, the moment of zen: the sole remaining City Councillor elected under the Front National banner was caught by the Mayor, defacing public bulletin boards at six o’clock in the morning.
His former colleagues sputter on about him (I couldn’t agree more with the sentiments, if not the spelling). Further, they wish to state they do not want this former Legionnaire to preside the War Veterans’ Committee.
Which leaves this small Congress of One with part of her answer to the question: perhaps the ridiculous is one possible way to use outrage. When you go into battle, if all you own is a tiny brass safety pin, you’d best concentrate on well applied pin pricks – and make sure you have a chin strap for the colander you use as helmet. (Or, to put it in literary terms: I prefer Don Quixote to our current Premier Ministre, Manuel Valls. Which doesn’t mean outrage isn’t one tough fuel to process into laughter.)