Another Tack: From Jean-Baptiste to Bon Jovi

Nineteenth-century novelist and editor of Le Figaro Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr might not be the name which instantly crops up when considering famous French literati, but he is paradoxically ever-relevant to our Israeli reality. Why? Because in January 1849 he observed in his satirical monthly Les Guêpes that “plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.”

The English adaptation of his remark is “the more things change, the more they stay the same.”

This truism is nothing less than invaluable for understanding the news which keep mercilessly bombarding us even in the midst of what’s supposed to be the sweltering summertime’s silly season. Each new headlines appear to overshadow the previous sensation. But should we be shocked in the first place? Or are we being cleverly manipulated by agenda-merchants?

If we took a leaf out of Karr’s journal, we wouldn’t have been surprised by any recent events. Insight fortified by hindsight would have steeled us against attempts to mess with our minds.

Take the sad case of Moshe Silman’s self-immolation. There are various psychiatric predispositions to dramatic suicide by fire. This has become a not uncommon form of radical political protest. Continue reading