It occurs to me this evening that Charlie Chaplin’s classic globe dance, as a means of trying to enter and represent visually the psyche of Hitler, is curiously apropos to the why question surrounding Paris tonight. The idea of violently achieving a world of perfect harmony, all devils vanquished, and living under the banner of an alpha father and ideology (religious or secular), is an apocalyptic fantasy that will always spell-cast a lot of people–and lead some of them to actually try and create it through direct action. But, of course, the fantasy enacted rarely generates a new world, but rather blows up the one that is. (Chaplin’s dance piece brilliantly concludes with a bang).
In any case, the below ballet of Chaplin’s suggests a key aspect of the “why question” surrounding the Islamic terrorism that we are witnessing in Paris. And recall that, like our 21st century terrorists, Hitler also regarded Paris as a chief prize in his battle against secular democratic politics and the Anglo-French Enlightenment. What delight he took in conquering Paris! Like the Twin Towers in New York, the Eiffel Tower is a lightning rod that attracts the psychological electricity of those who would undo the Anglo-French (and American) Enlightenment.