Topic: World View
Language Notes: Worlds Apart
Last weekend, with Ric Erickson, editor of MetropoleParis, there was much on Dominique de Villepin (as I call him, the French anti – John Bolton) in Fallout from the French Kiss of Death and two other items. One suspects this wasn't widely read, even with Ric's amusing editorial cartoon from Paris. No one much on this side of the world, and particularly out here in Hollywood, really follows French politics, except for the few local French expatriates. And the circulation of the online magazine is small – edging up to 12,000 unique logons a month, with maybe a tenth of those from Western Europe. Ah, well. It is fun to write about such things, even if the readers are few and far between.
This week what is mentioned below is about far larger implications. It is about what we used to call different mindsets – really, about language and its uses. Our president, this Bush fellow, has not much use for language – as you see in the Bushisms that appear in these pages now and then. "It's in our country's interests to find those who would do harm to us and get them out of harm's way." - George W. Bush, Washington, D.C., April 28, 2005
You get the idea.
That is why it might be wise, or something, to consider this –
When Rimbaud meets Rambo
The new French Prime Minister's grandiose poetic style won't cut much ice with the White House action men
Ben MacIntyre – The Times of London (UK) - June 04, 2005
Who is this Rimbaud person? Doesn't matter. Read this and you'll get the general idea.
The sort of guys that run our government? – "At a NATO summit in Prague, Donald Rumsfeld was once forced to sit though a performance of modern dance and poetry. Asked for his reaction afterwards, he shrugged: 'I'm from Chicago.'"
On the other side? - "For George Bush, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld words are blunt instruments, used to convey meaning, not feeling. Actions speak louder. The President of France, by contrast, rocked by the rejection of the EU constitution, has attempted to shore up his Government by appointing a poet as his Prime Minister, a patrician intellectual in the French romantic mould, a true believer in the transcendental and redemptive power of words."
The appointment of Dominique de Villepin was intended to send the message that French exceptionalism is alive and well? That's what I was said in these pages here last weekend.
It's a cultural war.
So what does MacIntyre have to add?
Of course not.
As for the poetic language of Dominique de Villepin -
And on the divide?
No, someone inarticulate is, perhaps, safer.
And the conclusion is this – that the appointment of Dominique de Villepin "is certain to increase the accusations of pretentiousness from the American side, and philistinism from the French. The chasm has never been wider, or more in need of a bridge. America's public image could benefit from a sense of imaginative wonder, a little more Rimbaud and a lot less Rambo."
I don't think that is the public image we want to project. In fact, this appeared June 7 and explains a lot.
Bush urged: 'Never apologize' to Muslims
Administration officials reportedly inspired by classic John Wayne movie
And they didn't send a copy of "Total Eclipse" (1995) - the story of Rimbaud's life in Paris with Leonardo DiCaprio as Rimbaud, David Threwlis as Verlaine and the French actress Romane Bohringer as Mathilde Maute, Verlaine's wife. The director was Agnieszka Holland, not John Ford.
A little more Rimbaud and a lot less Rambo? Not likely. Not likely at all.