I was already glum about the Charlie Hebdo anniversary when David Bowie became mortal. I’m American, but like all good Americans I remember why I’m no longer subject to the crown; no matter how many times our elder, shorter, Gallic brother gets in the quicksand, it’s our sacred duty to pull him out. French was the only foreign language my shitty little high school offered, and I’m a congenital language buff, so it was a perfect storm. Depending on which idiot team you bat for, feel free to shout at me till you’re blue about colonialism or cheese-eating surrender monkeys; you’re a subnormal, and anyway, as I was born and raised in Wisconsin, I take the cheese-eating thing a bit personally.
Fast-forward 25 years: some of the articles I’ve written lately—ever since the Islamofascists made it abundantly clear that they intend to pose a threat to French sovereignty—led one friend to prod me: Ann, how can you be a French nationalist and an antinatalist? What do you care if one horde of doomed souls overruns another?
My answer at the time was pretty much “Er…stupid brain!” On the face of it, what else would you have to say? These two notions seem to have little in common, yet they both make sense to my brainham (or, as I call it, Bartleby). I couldn’t figure out what the damned organ was up to, even if I am its owner and it does chatter in my ear all day every day.
But the day after David Bowie, substitute father for my generation, went to fully merge with Ziggy in the stars, I realized that the answer is, coincidentially, rather… Camusian.
I know, I know: Camus’ little dodge against the emptiness of the universe—”Life has no intrinsic meaning, but you can make a meaning up as you go along, and trickily that is the intrinsic meaning”—has been roundly debunked in antinatalist circles for at least a decade. But how do you get through your day, then? Another suicide attempt? Being perfectly logical in all areas will be of little comfort to you when jumping off a bridge leaves you paraplegic.
So I’m not ashamed to say that when Bowie died, a noticeable percentage of the color drained out of my universe. He was one of the things that tricked me into thinking the stars gave a shit for a second. I concentrated roughly 70 percent of my lifetime Bowie-listening during the few years in which I was treated to about 70 percent of my lifetime illusions; then time and people yanked the latter away, as they will.
But it wasn’t just my paltry life on which the duke cast his romantic sheen. Ziggy Stardust first gave stage directions to the shadows of nuclear and environmental doom that clouded the mid-20th century; earth was really dying, but there was still a hero of sorts. Then when my generation came of age, discovering Bowie’s old records in the shops meant finding the father figure who was missing for many of us—a father with the power to turn a garden apartment into a spaceship—as well as a “leper messiah.” We might have felt like the entire 1990s were a leper colony, but we could still look up at the stars.
Sure, you can still play the records. But up till a few days ago, Bowie was actually there, in the background radiation, seething with the possibility of drama.
As an antinatalist, I struggle to find the transcendental. This is where the rubber meets the road: where a romantic begins to regret worshipping logic as well. The twain are hard to reconcile, but reconcile them we must, or become the dead-eyed Ligottian puppets we fear we are anyway. If the death of one European artist can wipe so much indigo from the night sky, what would life be like with all of them muffled?
What’s coming to Europe isn’t just a human tide, not just a tax burden: It is an idea, and an idea that is antithetical to art, romance, and Gothic cathedrals. It is the idea that affairs here on Earth should be dictated, not by the heavens directly, but by Allah’s self-righteous, prudish, finger-wagging representatives down below.
Europeans were infected by a similar virus a few hundred years ago; but in the face of the demonstrable hypocrisy and selfishness of God’s avatars—foibles of the clergy which were dutifully recorded by generations of satirists—even the believers eventually reasoned that perhaps God should be trusted to watch over human affairs on his own schedule, not that of the priests. Robespierre might have been a nasty guy, but if we were to allow the establishment of a new theocracy in Europe, all the blood he shed would have been in vain. Our freedoms have been won so horribly hard. And while all life might be meaningless, it’s a hell of a lot more boring without free speech and miniskirts. Having your head sawn off is considerably worse than ennui.
“But,” says the hardened humanist: “We can’t stop letting in migrants! Because the children! The real refugees! The human suffering in the Middle East! If we try to stem the tide of terrorists pouring into Europe, we will also condemn innocent people to death! Do you only care about the innocent dead when they look like you?”
You’re close: I care more about the innocent dead when they think like me. (Well, I’ll settle for at least not thinking I deserve to be raped or die, at this point.) I care more about innocent eyes which see unique individuals such as David Bowie and Voltaire as geniuses—not as decadent Western faggots who were only born to be silenced and tossed off a roof.
Yes, in theory, one human life is worth as little as another; but that’s not how our brains work, is it? I don’t know why it’s such a big deal for any Westerner to “admit” this, but here we go: I care more about people who care about the things that give my life meaning, however illusory, than I care about people who think a rock in the desert is telling them to shoot cartoonists.
So. Motherfucking. There.
Do you think the Islamofascists are any more neutral than I am? Au contraire; there are now oceans of proof that they place so much negative value on the existence of each infidel that they’re willing to cash in their lives to take a few of ours. And aren’t we getting a little tired of being the bigger man while the things that get us out of bed every day are smirkingly trodden underfoot? Like Bowie’s records, Voltaire’s books would still be readable if European civilization were replaced with a caliphate. But would they mean anything?
Colonialist cheese-eating nothin’, jackasses. Without thousands of years of cultural development in Europe, you wouldn’t have the legal protections that allow you to mock and degrade Europe or Bush or Obama or Cheetos or whatever the hell you want—nor would you likely enjoy the technological advances that led to the computer you’re reading this on so that you can fume about what a Nazi I am. (Aside: does anyone else find it bitterly hilarious that Marine le Pen is getting called a Nazi for challenging German hegemony in Europe? I can’t quit laughing over my vermouth at that one.)
And without Camus, you would have neither Stephin Merritt nor the clove cigarettes he makes fun of his seventeen-year-old self for smoking, nor much of the fashionably faceless humanist culture you enjoy while you bloviate about multiculturalism.
Yes, my sole tiny human life is meaningless in the grand scheme, and we’re all going to be enveloped by the sun. But damned if I’m not sitting on a beautiful pile of satirical tracts, hoisted by centuries of free speech, and standing on the parchments of giants to a height where imaginary birds braid my hair with typewriter ribbons like Thackeray in drag as Snow White.
Illusory? Yes. But if Allah’s little wankers want to take it away from me I’ll be keeping a very real baseball bat behind my back.