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The Fool is Lear's Fool (and one could argue, an extension of Lear's psyche). He is authorised to mock Lear. If another character were to mock Lear in the same way, Lear's reaction would be very different.

Other modern "fools" are questioning their audience and its accepted opinions. This is an invaluable exercise, imo. But its effectiveness stems from the fact that they question the culture from within. This is part of a process by which a culture can lose its prejudices and become broader and more tolerant.

Charlie Hebdo, as fools go (and I've been reading it on and off for forty years), has mostly carried out that function of questioning and mocking from within, and imo to sometimes devastating effect. In terms of religion, that means mostly attacking the authoritarian and reactionary positions of the Catholic clergy and, in particular, the Pope. To applause from me.

On the other hand, I don't support their choosing to mock and question the accepted beliefs of Muslims, however authoritarian and reactionary I think those beliefs may be. Such mockery from the outside is not much likely to be effective in bringing about fresh thinking in the Muslim world -- quite apart from the kneejerk tribal defence effect it is sure to have, change in Islamic culture can imo only come about through the effect of challenges from within. This is something I believe will happen (unless the planet kicks us off it before then). But it's the business of Muslims and those brought up in that culture. The "West" doesn't have lessons to hand out to them.

Yet, whether it be Jyllands Posten or Charlie Hebdo that publishes the material, it can only be perceived in the Islamic world as an emanation of the "West". Neither paper is ignorant of this. So the intention seems to me to be other than mocking in order to question and bring about a positive dynamic in the culture. It looks more like defiance, hostile acts born from a civilisation-clash worldview. And that, I dislike as much as I dislike the trolly language of ormondotvos' diary.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Jan 5th, 2013 at 12:25:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
afew:
So the intention seems to me to be other than mocking in order to question and bring about a positive dynamic in the culture.

so very encouraging to see reasonable attitudes free of prejudice or arrogance. it's up to us to try and mend the scars of centuries, and try to rebring about the peaceful, (and amazingly productive) co-existence that has on occasion occurred between our cultures.

it's happening in music, with our strains melding beautifully with theirs. (someone will probably post something appropriate!).

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sat Jan 5th, 2013 at 04:11:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm surprised that you, afew, in particular, should characterise the current CH publication as being addressed by Occidentals to international Islam.

The comic of the life of the Prophet was written by French people, Muslim and non-Muslim, for French people, Muslim and non-Muslim.

We (including you and me, afew) live in a society in which a large number of people, French by birth, are of Muslim heritage, whether actively Muslim or not. They are friends, neighbours, colleagues, part of the fabric of society (probably a bit thin on the ground out your way). Islam is not a foreign religion in France. And it is the religion of an underprivileged minority with which CH has always manifested solidarity, to the extent that I'm quite sure that, in their own heads at least, CH do not see themselves satirising Islam from the outside, but as an aspect of a society in which they (and we) are fully part.

I was pretty ambivalent when Charlie Hebdo reprinted the Jyllands Posten drawings (however I have approved of CH's own drawings of Mahomet published on that occasion, and since). That was certainly an edgy editorial decision; and I think the editor, Charb, is right in saying that they put the cart before the horse (there is an element of implicit self-criticism in that).

But, again, I really don't much evidence of geopolitics in any of the editorial decisions of CH. To the extent that they are concerned with reactions outside France, it is with French-speaking North Africa. They have been fervent supporters of the Arab Spring, and highly critical of the rise of political Islam, in Tunisia in particular. Those who organised anti-CH demonstrations are of the Salafist tendency, i.e. the extreme right of the political spectrum of the Arab world (I hope nobody is shocked by that characterisation!)

CH in a fight with the extreme right : it's hardly a novelty.

The impact within France deserves more consideration. Later.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Sun Jan 6th, 2013 at 04:57:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
eurogreen:
characterise the current CH publication as being addressed by Occidentals to international Islam.

I didn't. I said it would necessarily be perceived in the Islamic world as an emanation of the West.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Jan 6th, 2013 at 05:06:29 PM EST
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