By Adam Gopnik, The New Yorker, November 9
…[The French philosopher André Glucksmann, who died on November 10] wrote, in the wake of 9/11, a remarkable book, still untranslated, called Dostoevsky in Manhattan, in which he insisted that modern terrorism, including Islamic terrorism, is nihilist before it is religious and even before it is political. He attached its motives to the terrorism of the century before – to the violence, which Dostoevsky and Conrad dramatized so well, which redounds not to a political end but with a wild vengeance and the existential message, “I kill, therefore I am.”
Certainly, the communiqué in French from ISIS, taking responsibility for the mass murders – the blind assaults on the stadium, the rock concert, the cafés, none of them exactly haunts of the wealthy – had, for all its apparent political logic, a deeper ring of unleashed rage and blood madness, down to the ancient fury at the existence of Paris as a place of pleasure. “Targeting the capital of prostitution and obscenity…, Paris shook under their feet, and its streets were tight upon them,” the group boasted. “The result of these attacks,” the statement said, “was the death of no less than 100 Crusaders.”
People sitting on the terrace of a Cambodian restaurant – Crusaders, indeed.