cult and paste

be careful where you clique

More than a feeling: 3 unforgiving moments in the life of Maximilien Robespierre

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To understand the madness of a man ruled by terror, consider 3 moments that molded him into legend.

1. Rejection in Youth / 1774- afternoon pep rally at the Lycée Louis-le-Grand A High School in downtown Paris. it’s raining.

Everyone is waiting with eagerness to get a glimpse of the newly crowned king and his 14 year old Austrian bird. Young Max stands near the front. He has been selected by the headmaster to give the welcoming address to Louis. For days, Max has agonized over just what to say first, how he will bow, and whether or not he will make eye contact with queen.

Hours pass… it continues to rain

Everyone is now thoroughly drenched. The teachers begin to file the students back to the classrooms… when suddenly the royal carriage is spotted at the school gates. Max’s heartbeat rises. He needs to pee really bad. The carriage door swings open and The Headmaster is asked to approach…

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The headmaster returns from the carriage in a bad mood, “Hurry up and read your speech boy.” Max looks at the carriage. The royal couple are inside tickling each other. “Go on, His majesty doesn’t want to get his wig wet.

The only sound is rain pelting down on Max’s speech notes. Max looks down and can’t decipher a bit of it. He tries his best to remember what it was he wanted to say. His classmates begin to snicker. The next day he sees his name on the bathroom wall. He has been dubbed a wanker.

2. Ostracism by friends and family / 9th of Thermidor, Year II (aka 27 July, 1794)

french republic calendar

A mature Robespierre has outdone himself in recent years. Not only has he vanquished and beheaded some of France’s most popular political figures, He has also started a religion… the Cult of The Supreme Being, complete with rites… song and dance. The cult never takes off. Max enforces it… bigger rituals, more doctrine, funkier hats… Failure.

And so it goes with everything else… Now on the 9th day of the month of Thermidor, it’s raining and yet another speech prepared on behalf of the Commitee on Public Safety. This time Robespierre is shouted out before he can begin. His rivals who call for his arrest, have had enough war on terror. Max must flee. He and his only surviving friends, the last band stand of the Jacobins, are now being hunted through the corridors of the Hôtel de Ville by the republican guard.

Augustin, Max’s brother, is there. He was talking tough a few hours ago- I’ll stand by you, brother’s keeper and all that jazz-  now he wards off the fuzz by jumping through a window and breaking both his legs… One comrade says goodbye to revolution by falling down the stairs, another one shoots himself in the head.

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And so it’s down to Maximilien in a room with a view. The guards are about to barge through the doors… Max has to pee. And this is where things get fuzzy. The arresting officer claims he shot Robespierre. But inside sources say Robespierre was attempting suicide… and failed. The gunshot made an impact but only on his face: Robespierre is alive but he can’t move his jaw.

hotel de ville

3. More than a feeling / Next Morning July 28.

Robespierre has his head turbaned and he’s being carted out to the main event execution stage. People begin to cheer. Max, still slightly concussed, begins humming to himself…

I looked out this morning and the sun was gone
Turned on some music to start my day
I lost myself in a familiar song
I closed my eyes and I slipped away

It’s “More than a feeling”…. by the time he reaches the platform he sees Marianne, the National emblem of France, walking away. Nearly 182 years later he’ll meet Tom Scholz in the MIT Library and pass the song on to him. Mike Huckabee will meet Robespierre in a dream and will be convinced to employ the song as the main theme for his “sure fire” election win.

But on this day, Robespierre alone will face the guillotine heads up towards the blade, screaming out a guitar solo as the bandages are ripped off his face and the Reign of terror meets a sharp end.

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