Notes on how things seem to me from out here in Hollywood... As seen from Just Above Sunset
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Photos and text, unless otherwise noted, Copyright 2003,2004,2005,2006 - Alan M. Pavlik
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"It is better to be drunk with loss and to beat the ground, than to let the deeper things gradually escape."

- I. Compton-Burnett, letter to Francis King (1969)

"Cynical realism – it is the intelligent man’s best excuse for doing nothing in an intolerable situation."

- Aldous Huxley, "Time Must Have a Stop"

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Wednesday, 18 February 2004

Topic: World View

We have John Ashcroft, and they have Nicolas Sarkozy.

A note from France on a petition rather unlikely to surface over here in Des Moines - even if that Iowa town has a sort of French name. Des Moines? The monks?

What of us lefties in Boston and Hollywood (Bois de houx)? Ah, are we among the "caviar gauche" - moaning about the condition of society while doing little to improve it? And are the intelligentsia, notably those one might call the "professional civil libertarians," hindering crime prevention?

This wire item of note:
French elite unite over government 'war on intellect'
Philip Delves Broughton, The Telegraph (UK) (Filed: 18/02/2004)

Here's the gist of it:
France's heavily subsidised intelligentsia accused the Paris government yesterday of waging a "war on intelligence".

More than 20,000 academics, artists, writers, doctors and lawyers have signed a petition decrying the "new state anti-intellectualism".

Eight thousand of the names were published yesterday in the cultural magazine Les Inrockuptibles, alongside a manifesto that called on all the groups threatened by the government's attitude to unite.
And just who are these people?

Among the more prominent signatories were the philosopher Jacques Derrida and the film director Francois Ozon, who made the recent hits 8 Women and Swimming Pool.

And what's the problem?
The petition aims to bring together the diverse groups who have a gripe with the government. These range from freelance performers, whose pay and benefit entitlements have been reduced, to lawyers, who oppose the government's stringent new crime bill. Teachers, doctors and researchers are seething over budget cuts, while psychiatrists must now obtain proper scientific qualifications.

All have staged independent demonstrations and strikes, but to little effect.

In their manifesto, the intellectuals complain of "the simplification of public debate . . . for or against headscarves in schools? Psychiatrists or charlatans?"

They complain of "an extremely coherent set of policies" aimed at "impoverishing and weakening all areas of life considered unproductive in the short term, useless and dissident".
Ah, this is in defense of the useless in life. Of course.

I am rather fond of the useless in life, myself. Words I often hear? -- "I know it's amusing, and even beautiful, and thought-provoking, and real cool... but is it USEFUL?" How tiresome!

Well, who are the Malvolios in France out to make us all attend to only the pragmatic?

The prime minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin and the interior minister Nicolas Sarkozy have been making sounds. Raffarin has celebrated the demise of the "1968 political generation", whose ideas were forged in the 1968 student protests in Paris. Bunch of bums, of course.

Sarkozy was the one who attacked France's "caviar gauche" for "moaning about the condition of society while doing little to improve it." He has blamed the intelligentsia, notably those he called the "professional civil libertarians", for hindering crime prevention.

Useless folks!

And it seems the intellectuals are complaining that no political party has taken up their cause. No kidding. As they say out here... DUH!

And the world, and France in particular, becomes more like the United States every day.

Posted by Alan at 14:01 PST | Post Comment | Permalink

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