I work in a fantastical place.
Smart folks work right by me. This afternoon, I traded a power cord with the woman next to me. The line powering her could easily power my platform, too. It’s like that, where I work. We share a lot. The people are beautiful, passionate, and full of how to make almost everything more awesome for almost everyone.
They translate moments into meaning all day. And then they go home and do it some more, working on their bands, their blogs, their boys and the bits of their lives where they invest meaning. I find them to be the bards of this age and I can think of no better.
12 of us were shot today. That’s how it feels. The smart…the ancient. The gentle. The goofy and the glamorous . . .
- Charb – whose real name was Stephane Charbonnier, 47, artist and publisher of Charlie Hebdo.
- Cabu – whose real name was Jean Cabut, 76, Charlie Hebdo’s lead cartoonist. He had been honoured with the legion of honour, France’s highest decoration, in 2005.
- Georges Wolinski – Tuinisian-born artist, 80. Had been drawing cartoons since the 1960s, and worked for Hara-Kiri, a satirical magazine considered a forerunner to Charlie Hebdo.
- Tignous – whose real name was Bernard Verlhac, 57, was a member of a group of artists called Cartoonists for Peace.
- Bernard Maris – known as “Uncle Bernard”, 68, was an economist and wrote a regular column for Charlie Hebdo.
- Honoré – Philippe Honoré, 73, was a cartoonist who had worked for Charlie Hebdo since 1992. He was the artist who drew the last cartoon tweeted by the weekly only moments before the massacre. The cartoon shows the leader of Islamic State, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, presenting his New Year message saying “and especially good health!”
- Michel Renaud – a former journalist and political staffer who founded a cultural festival. He was visiting the Charlie Hebdo offices from Clermont-Ferrard.
- Mustapha Ourrad – a copy-editor for Charlie Hebdo. Of Algerian descent.
- Elsa Cayat – Charlie Hebdo analyst and columnist.
- Frederic Boisseau – building maintenance worker.
- Franck Brinsolaro – 49-year-old policeman appointed to head security for Charb. He was the father of a one-year-old daughter.
- Ahmed Merabet – 42 and a French Muslim. A police officer and member of the 11tharrondissement brigade.
I didn’t know these people in person. I only heard of them today. I read and I remembered as I reached for them. I remember the sharp smell of winter on the Seine in Paris ,when I walked it with my mother in 2008. I inhale again the exhalation of 40,000 year old paint in the cave cartoons of Lascaux. I see them impressing their understanding in so many cartoons, sharp lines, simple sayings.
I am so sorry these artists of our age met their end today.
I know many more people also passed today. I know so many of them, violently. The violence of poverty, lack of opportunity, discrimination–it’s not special; it’s oppressively every day for us. I know that. I hate it, but I know it.
These wits though, they made something that mattered. It got them killed. It also allowed them to live with a power that inspires us. There is a force of ignorance and fear that wants to hide the light in us all, and keep us in the dark.
I say fight it. Fight it with your brightness. It won’t protect you personally, no, not at all–but you can help others scent the way to a shinier future. You can choose beacon or smothering blanket.