Bastille Day, B-Day

Today, 14 July, is Bastille Day, the day when in 1789 the good people of Paris, after breaking into the Hotel des Invalides where they gather 28000 rifles, hear (the rumor) that there’s gunpowder in the old Bastille prison fortress & thus attack the place (which is defended by 82 veterans and 32 Swiss guards under the very incompetent command of officer De Launay, who loses his head, literally, in the affair). But the Bastille is before all a symbol of royal absolutism & privilege — even if the only prisoners in the old jail are seven common-law criminals (thiefs, a con-man, a counterfeiter & a sexual delinquant) & the people are surprised to find a range of luxurious cells, very unlike the torture chambers described by the “public intellectuals” who had had the misfortune to spend some time there, i.e. Voltaire & De Sade.

It is said that the news of the taking of the Bastille was the sole event that ever made Emmanuel Kant deviate from his daily walk in Königsberg, Prussia.

But it is also my birthday, so there. I will read — for the pleasure of its revolutionary thought — a few pages in Jean-Pierre Faye’s Dictionnaire politique portatif en cinq mots: Démagogie, Terreur, Tolérance, Répression, Violence (Gallimard, 1982 — unhappily out of print & untranslated) while sipping from my first-arrived birth present, a bottle of 1985 Bas-Armagnac, Domaine “le Basque,” Lannemaignan, Gers.

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3 Responses

  1. Tom Beckett says:

    Happy birthday, my fellow Cancer.

  2. Jehza says:

    Happy birthday, Pierre. From yet another Crab.

  3. harvey says:

    and my felicidades as well, pierre.

    yesterday was also quasha’s birthday, and i made him this birthday card, which now is also dedicated to you

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