среда, октября 25, 2006
Slippery Dead Frogs
[I doubt very much that the creators of this archive envisaged persecution as one its dedicated pursuits. I know them, and they just don’t seem like the kind of people who consciously engage in the more vulgar and destructive brands of prejudice, bigotry and stereotypification. Hence, it is with some trepidation that I embark upon a series of reflections founded in ignorance, judgmentalism and a lick or two of sheer yellow-bellied cowardice. I rely here on that old Russian proverb: ‘Out of the mouths of boors and rednecklings hast thou ordained strength because of thine enemies, that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger.’]
What, by all that slithers in the darkness, is wrong with the French? In asking this, I declare that I have no intention of compiling a comprehensive list of their faults. Others may do so at length in the comments, but I will restrict myself to this statement: their thinking is askew. Specious. Slippery. In the coming weeks, I hope to demonstrate the slipperiness of French thinking. I also hope very much that these investigations will not reveal within the French a certain demonic malice, for I know several of the beggars, and they never struck me as surpassingly demonic or malicious. But that, I suppose, is the possibility for which we all must prepare when dealing with slippery, skewed, and specious thinking.
I will use as material for my analysis the selected thoughts of two of France’s most prominent intellectuals: Albert Camus and Jacques Derrida.
I should immediately warn against indulging in two obvious but (quite fittingly) specious objections:
The first is that it is unfair to derive a national mentality from two individuals who were, in fact, born and largely raised in Algeria. Some may believe that national borders should determine national mentality. This is quite clearly wrong. Being French has nothing to do with geography, and everything to do with the fashion in which one thinks, and the manner in which one regards the world. Frenchosity is confined neither to France, nor her ex-colonies, nor bloodline. It is, I repeat, determined by a special kind of thinking – specifically, slippery thinking. When one comes across a slippery thinker, one may surmise that said thinker is French.
The second is that it is unfair to project the selected thoughts of two individuals onto an entire nationality. Yet how else are we to derive a national mentality? By surveying every cheese-rooting frog on the face of the planet? That is quite clearly an absurd proposition. Are we to deny the immense standing of Camus and Derrida within the French intellectual space? Are we to equate their standing with that of every sans-culotte on the Rue de la Terre? These propositions are equally ludicrous.
These two objections are severe, and excessively so. I should also like to add that such objections are most likely to burst stridently forth from French throats. Hence, we may conclude with some sadness that the French are both insufferably severe and severely insufferable. Something will have to be done about them. But more of that later.