Friday, January 6, 2012

Ideological Reasoning

Les animaux sauvages

When I took French at the university, we read Sartre's “Les Jeux Sont Faits” as well as of Simenon's “Maigret” detective mysteries. I loved the way the language expressed thoughts and feelings.

Certainly, there is the way French is written which can be quite beautiful and used to express passionate emotions. There is also the fact that the French tend to be rather intellectual. These things appear to be freely expressed amongst themselves, which I find rather refreshing.

I love that the French have no compunctions about talking about sex and politics. I am amazed that French schools still teach philosophy and reasoning. I was surprised to see posters all over Paris when we visited in the Fall of 2011 for a series of lectures by a German philosopher.

Angel of Montparnasse

That the French laughed at certain Americans for making such a big deal out of President Bill Clinton's dalliance with Monica Lewinsky brings a smile to me. Who, but America, could care about who a President is playing with? Only in America would the media and certain sectors of society demand a saint of a simple human while searching, diligently, for their every fault and short-coming.

That the French still teach philosophy tells me they must feel there is more to life and living than making money. Using the mind to engage and interpret the world seems to be important to the French. After all, wasn't it they who developed hydraulic power, demonstrated the use of steam locomotion, the world the fine art of movie making, and spend large sums of money each year on procuring art for public places?

Iam very much looking forward to finding a way into French culture. I would like to hear what people think and feel about a few of the mysteries of life. I'd like to begin to understand how philosophical ideas inform and guide French culture.

Reims Cathedral

In reading “60 Million French People Can't All Be Wrong”, I learned that politics are used as a conversation starter, much in the same way sports is used in the US. This fascinates me. In the US, politics is a full time circus of flim-flam hucksters shilling self destructive policies as a means of improving the upward movement of money to the top 1%. In France, it looks like politics can be seriously discussed and issues carefully examined. Am I being too naive?

Before our recent trip to Paris, I recorded a discussion off Radio France Info. The topic was socialism vs democracy vs capitalism and the role of China in world economics. Four people were actively engaged in a roundtable talk of the place of capitalism in culture, society, and how it seems to be ruining economic systems throughout world. The thing that sticks with me from the discussion is how the speakers felt there is no relationship between democracy and capitalism. Such is thing would be viewed as a heretical statement in the US, even if the statement could be made in the first place. Rather, in the US there would typically be a shouting match between participants who spew nothing more than carefully rehearsed "talking points" (or should I say "shouting points"?).


There is one thing, however, that has me stumped. What I don't yet understand is why the French can't talk about money. Maybe it will become one of Life's Mysteries? Or, perhaps, I'll get to the bottom of this after we spending time in France? Either way, it'll be interesting, educational, and fun.

I hope living in France will prove to engage my mind in ways I find more discrete than the continual bludgeoning it receives any time I turn on a TV in the US.

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