Thursday, January 26, 2006

declaration: pourquoi j'aime les Francais

His coolness Bernard-Henri Lévy was on the Daily Show tonight; in response, I have to weigh in on the essential lesson of his appearance.

His thesis was that Americans and French are like brothers - we hate each other half the time, we love each other the rest of the time. I have to agree.

Come on, where did Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson hang out? Where did Henry Miller set up shop? Not in Prague or London or Rome, baby. Paris. I could go on, but I won't, out of respect for your knowledge of the rich history of American expats in Paris.

Il y avait une fois I lived just outside of Paris. It was in those three, fleeting years I came to experience first-hand just how alike we are, the French and the Americans.

We both treasure democracy. We value independence, we honor the family, we appreciate good living and hard argument. We are hard-headed, full of imagination, suffused with regret and ambition.

What his coolness
Bernard-Henri Lévy argued tonight was that we suffer from not spending enough time together, that we're all victims of a surfeit of sterotyping. But that's OK. We can fix that.

I had the very, very happy occasion to spend some time with two French colleagues of mine (one native and one American) during the recent spate of meetings in San Francisco. We talked about food, poltics, wine, music, women; our conversations ranged over anything and everything, we sat together at a "team dinner" at a Santa Cruz winery and worked our way through two (or was it three) bottles of very respectable cabernet sauvignon as we talked, talked, talked.

I've known for years that I missed living in France, but I never realized until this last weekend how much I missed the French. We can argue - heatedly, passionately, and with genuine rancor - and still let it all fall away like leaves before the wind with a quick pour of wine and a wink.

2 comments:

Ron said...

I think people forget how much and how very profoundly Americans define themselves as wanting to get away from Europe and it's continual, never-ending nonsense. It's not just France, but all of the realpolitik gibble that has defined Europe for, literally, centuries.

We're not isolationist; we just want to be left alone!

F. said...

Stay where you are ron, but do not forget that the world do not end at the US frontiers.
A french guy.