WOKE. Réécrivons l’article de Le Monde…

WOKE. Réécrivons l’article de Le Monde…

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Le « woke », mot d’ordre de la vigilance. Etre cool n’est plus à la mode chez militant-e-s, qui affichent désormais un état d’esprit « woke », plus combatif, pour lutter contre les injustices. Il y a encore peu, pour être dans le coup, il fallait être cool. Désormais, mieux vaut être woke, éveillé-e. Une transition qui constitue une révolution discrète mais non moins retentissante, rien de moins que la redéfinition d’une figure centrale de notre modernité : les rebelles. Woke est dérivé du verbe to wake, « se réveiller ». Etre woke, c’est être conscient-e des injustices et du système d’oppression.

David Brooks, chroniqueur conservateur au New York Times, s’est récemment emparé de ce mot pour souligner une évolution des mœurs. Même s’il lui arrive d’opérer des raccourcis critiquables, on peut reconnaître à cet observateur une certaine acuité : c’est à lui que l’on doit, notamment, le néologisme bobo, ce « bourgeois bohème » qui est chez lui partout mais partout indifférent aux autres.

Pour lui, le phénomène naissant est l’expression d’un changement d’ère. Désormais, l’esprit de rébellion s’exprime sur un ton plus directement revendicatif. Poursuivre une quête personnelle, mettre à distance le monde, afficher un style distinctif, trois démarches propres au cool, sont remisées au profit d’une posture plus engagée. David Brooks y voit le signe de l’émergence d’une nouvelle culture, qui ne cache plus sa colère.

<<  If you grew up in the 20th century, there’s a decent chance you wanted to be like Miles Davis, Billie Holiday, Humphrey Bogart, Albert Camus, Audrey Hepburn, James Dean or Jimi Hendrix. In their own ways, these people defined cool.

The cool person is stoical, emotionally controlled, never eager or needy, but instead mysterious, detached and self-possessed.

The cool person is gracefully competent at something, but doesn’t need the world’s applause to know his worth. That’s because the cool person has found his or her own unique and authentic way of living with nonchalant intensity.

It emerged specifically within African-American culture, among people who had to withstand the humiliations of racism without losing their temper, and who didn’t see any way to change their political situation. Cool culture in that context said, you can beat me but I am not beaten, you can oppress me but you can’t own me. It became a way of indicting society even if you were powerless, a way of showing your untrammeled dignity. It was then embraced by all those who felt powerless, whether they were dissident intellectuals or random teenagers.

Cool had other social meanings. It was a way of showing you weren’t playing the whole Horatio Alger game; you weren’t a smarmy career climber. It was a way to assert the value of the individual in response to failed collectivisms — to communism and fascism, to organized religion. The cool person is guided by his or her own autonomous values, often on the outskirts of society.

To be cool was to be a moral realist. The cruelties of the wars had exposed the simplistic wholesomeness of good and evil middle-class morality. A character like Rick Blaine in “Casablanca” is trying to live by his own honor code in an absurd moral world.

Today because of social media, everybody is close up, present 24/7, familiar and un-iconic. That makes a huge difference in how public personalities are received.

I started to look around to see if there might be another contemporary ethos that has replaced the cool ethos. You could say the hipster ethos qualifies. But that strikes me as less of a cultural movement and more of a consumer aesthetic.

A better candidate is the “woke” ethos. The modern concept of woke began, as far as anybody can tell, with a 2008 song by Erykah Badu. The woke mentality became prominent in 2012 and 2013 with the Trayvon Martin case and the rise of Black Lives Matter. Embrace it or not, B.L.M. is the most complete social movement in America today (as of July 2017), as a communal, intellectual, moral and political force.

To be woke is to be radically aware and justifiably paranoid. It is to be cognizant of the rot pervading the power structures. The woke manner shares cool’s rebel posture, but it is the opposite of cool in certain respects.

Cool was politically detached, but being a social activist is required for being woke. Cool was individualistic, but woke is nationalistic and collectivist. Cool was emotionally reserved; woke is angry, passionate and indignant. Cool was morally ambiguous; woke seeks to establish a clear marker for what is unacceptable.

Culture is the collective response to the core problems of the times. Today’s general disgust with institutions is producing a new style of collective action. It remains to be seen how substantive, rigorous and effective this new collective action will be. >>

Le woke pourrait donc être la traduction culturelle d’un basculement politique du monde.

Cet ordre s’effondre, certes, sous le poids de ses propres paradoxes, mais les injustices trop longtemps laissées à l’arrière-plan suscitent aujourd’hui un sentiment de révolte d’autant plus grand que les conservateurs reprennent du poil de la bête.

C’est la chanteuse américaine Erykah Badu qui lance le mouvement en employant, en 2012, l’expression « stay woke » (« restez vigilant-e-s ») dans un message de soutien au groupe de punk russe Pussy Riot. La formule fait mouche et refera son apparition à la faveur du mouvement Black Lives Matter, un an plus tard, au point de devenir le credo du mouvement.

And because “intersectionality”…

“Behind every woke man is an exhausted feminist you need to thank.”

cool Lauren Bacall lights a cigarette 1945Lauren Becall lights a cigarette, 1945.

References:

http://abonnes.lemonde.fr/m-perso/article/2018/03/03/le-woke-mot-d-ordre-de-la-vigilance_5265097_4497916.html

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/25/opinion/how-cool-works-in-america-today.html?mtrref=www.google.fr&assetType=opinion

https://twitter.com/the_rewm/status/701958298522820610