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Frozen In Terror


”I mean that we all live in a picture of the real. We all have a sense of how things are, and that sense of how things are is our reality. And then when something calamitous happens, somebody arrives in a picture of school with an assault rifle.

Somebody arrives in a church with a gun or in a shopping mall, you know. Everybody in those locations has a picture of what they’re doing. If you’re in a church, you’re there for reasons of belief and worship. If you’re in a shopping mall, you’re there to shop. If you’re in a school, you’re there to be at school.

And that’s how you see the world. And the explosion of violence into that picture destroys that reality. And then you literally don’t know the shape of the world. And very often, I think, people are paralyzed and don’t know what to do. How do you act in a moment when the thing that’s happened isn’t a part of the narrative you think you’re in?

And that’s what happened to me. I thought I was frozen.”

— Salmon Rushdie, reflecting on his near-fatal attack in 2022