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-   -   Commenter Court: The Return (Robert Wright & Aryeh Cohen-Wade) (http://bloggingheads.tv/forum/showthread.php?t=5007)

Florian 03-06-2010 06:56 AM

Re: Commenter Court: The Return (Robert Wright & Aryeh Cohen-Wade)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by kezboard (Post 153297)
I'm not trying to pick a fight for shits and giggles. I just think that denigrating everything related to the US and its culture is just as silly and unrelated to reality as proclaiming its superiority over everything else.

No doubt. And I plead not guilty to the crime de lèse états-unis. I merely said, and will say again, that I find the kind of political debate/information/cultural commentary I can get in France superior to anything I ever found in the US---outside the universities.

That is and has always been a problem in the US: the lack of a cultivated middle-class, a bourgeoisie in the European sense, exercising a predominant influence on society. Sorry, but a country in which apparently educated people can take Sarah Palin seriously is seriously lacking in something. I call it culture.

TwinSwords 03-06-2010 05:10 PM

Re: Commenter Court: The Return (Robert Wright & Aryeh Cohen-Wade)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Florian (Post 153286)
Only it is a false analogy. Since I have lived in France longer than I ever lived in the US. And therefore I naturally find the US inferior in every respect.

I agree with Kez that your tone and style are obnoxious, and probably self-defeating, (same could be said of me, though), but I refrain from criticizing (or even being bothered by) your tone/style because I think there's significant underlying truth to much of what you say on this matter, and I think it's helpful for Americans to hear it. I wish you could make your points on the question of American cultural shortcomings a little more gracefully and effectively. But Jesus, I wish I could do that with my own points.

I also think people are revealing some insecurity when they get upset by your critique. People should, IMO, accept it for what it is: A honest opinion and a valid, if not necessarily entirely accurate, viewpoint.

I also harbor what I hope are not just delusions that you actually don't hate America and Americans as much as you pretend to. My hope is that you're brutal because you're trying to make a point, but that there is at least some measure of hyperbole in your remarks.

claymisher 03-06-2010 05:13 PM

Re: Commenter Court: The Return (Robert Wright & Aryeh Cohen-Wade)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Florian (Post 153432)
No doubt. And I plead not guilty to the crime de lèse états-unis. I merely said, and will say again, that I find the kind of political debate/information/cultural commentary I can get in France superior to anything I ever found in the US---outside the universities.

That is and has always been a problem in the US: the lack of a cultivated middle-class, a bourgeoisie in the European sense, exercising a predominant influence on society. Sorry, but a country in which apparently educated people can take Sarah Palin seriously is seriously lacking in something. I call it culture.

I bet she gets fewer votes than Le Pen.

TwinSwords 03-06-2010 05:14 PM

Re: Commenter Court: The Return (Robert Wright & Aryeh Cohen-Wade)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by claymisher (Post 153291)
That reminds me of an old article:

http://www.theonion.com/content/node/34198

ROFL! That was just a classic piece. Great memory. :-)

Don Zeko 03-06-2010 05:18 PM

Re: Commenter Court: The Return (Robert Wright & Aryeh Cohen-Wade)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by claymisher (Post 153488)
I bet she gets fewer votes than Le Pen.

Zing!

claymisher 03-06-2010 05:31 PM

Re: Commenter Court: The Return (Robert Wright & Aryeh Cohen-Wade)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by TwinSwords (Post 153487)
I agree with Kez that your tone and style are obnoxious, and probably self-defeating, (same could be said of me, though), but I refrain from criticizing (or even being bothered by) your tone/style because I think there's significant underlying truth to much of what you say on this matter, and I think it's helpful for Americans to hear it. I wish you could make your points on the question of American cultural shortcomings a little more gracefully and effectively. But Jesus, I wish I could do that with my own points.

I also think people are revealing some insecurity when they get upset by your critique. People should, IMO, accept it for what it is: A honest opinion and a valid, if not necessarily entirely accurate, viewpoint.

I also harbor what I hope are not just delusions that you actually don't hate America and Americans as much as you pretend to. My hope is that you're brutal because you're trying to make a point, but that there is at least some measure of hyperbole in your remarks.

Stuff like "I naturally find the US inferior in every respect" is the kind of cartoon French hauteur that used to make me think Franco was playing with us. It's so weird when people conform to comic stereotypes.

Last time I was in Paris, flipping channels on the tv in my hotel room (where Samuel Beckett once lived!) there was:

a panel of philosophers discussing cultural hegemony,
another panel of philosophers discussing I don't know what,
a David Bowie concert,
a documentary about mime (I am not making this up),
The A-Team dubbed into French.

I don't know if the celebrity philosopher phenomenon is something to be proud of, but I wish America could produce a philosopher like Jean-Baptiste Botul.

TwinSwords 03-06-2010 05:35 PM

Re: Commenter Court: The Return (Robert Wright & Aryeh Cohen-Wade)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by claymisher (Post 153488)
I bet she gets fewer votes than Le Pen.

Point taken. Another good friend say to me a while ago that I needn't worry about Palin; there's "no way" more than 20% of the public would ever vote for her.

But Palin received 59,950,323 votes in 2008 -- 46% of the total -- and she did it at the lowest point for Republican candidates in living memory, and a lower point for Republicans than we are likely to see for many years to come. If she had been running in almost any other year, she would have been elected, and would now be one heartbeat away from the Oval Office.

Now, sure, she was running as the VP, and the country has learned a bit more about her since that fateful election. I doubt she could get 46% of the vote again (though I wouldn't entirely rule it out, either) because there's pretty widespread appreciation for the fact that she's a dunce. (Still, look at the people in this forum who have said again and again that they would vote for her simply out of spite for liberals.) I'm not sure I entirely accept FA's sweeping critique of US culture, but as a seperate question, I think we're making a mistake by consistently underestimating the appeal of the teabaggers and rightwing lunatics, if not necessarily Palin herself.

claymisher 03-06-2010 05:48 PM

Re: Commenter Court: The Return (Robert Wright & Aryeh Cohen-Wade)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by TwinSwords (Post 153493)
Point taken. Another good friend say to me a while ago that I needn't worry about Palin; there's "no way" more than 20% of the public would ever vote for her.

But Palin received 59,950,323 votes in 2008 -- 46% of the total -- and she did it at the lowest point for Republican candidates in living memory, and a lower point for Republicans than we are likely to see for many years to come. If she had been running in almost any other year, she would have been elected, and would now be one heartbeat away from the Oval Office.

Now, sure, she was running as the VP, and the country has learned a bit more about her since that fateful election. I doubt she could get 46% of the vote again (though I wouldn't entirely rule it out, either) because there's pretty widespread appreciation for the fact that she's a dunce. (Still, look at the people in this forum who have said again and again that they would vote for her simply out of spite for liberals.) I'm not sure I entirely accept FA's sweeping critique of US culture, but as a seperate question, I think we're making a mistake by consistently underestimating the appeal of the teabaggers and rightwing lunatics, if not necessarily Palin herself.

After Oklahoma City we have to always take the extreme right seriously.

Palin would be lucky to do as well at Buchanan in 1992. I doubt Palin could finish higher than third or fourth in Republican primaries. I'm not an expert on the French far right, but I'm pretty sure Le Pen is way worse than Palin.

TwinSwords 03-06-2010 05:59 PM

Re: Commenter Court: The Return (Robert Wright & Aryeh Cohen-Wade)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by claymisher (Post 153496)
After Oklahoma City we have to always take the extreme right seriously.

Palin would be lucky to do as well at Buchanan in 1992. I doubt Palin could finish higher than third or fourth in Republican primaries. I'm not an expert on the French far right, but I'm pretty sure Le Pen is way worse than Palin.

LOL, maybe. But you never know. Considering the crazy theology some of these people adhere to, I don't think we can ever be totally sure they're not going to do something completely crazy.

I agree with you that Palin has almost no chance of winning the Republican nomination, but if there's one thing you can say about the Republican Party and its presidential field, it's that there is no shortage of total lunacy. I might actually prefer Palin to win the nomination because she'd be easier to beat and she's a more well understood threat than, say, Rick Perry. Perry could probably get elected before voters ever figured out what he really stands for.

One thing that will be interesting is to see how the tea partiers react when they realize they've been coopted by Republicans -- something that won't occur to them until the Republicans take back the White House. As long as Obama's president, the tea baggers won't realize they're being used, because they will share the same objectives: Stop Obama's march to totalitarian Marxism. But once a Republican is back in the White House, they are going to want to see some actual results on their anti-government platform, i.e., the near total elimination of government.

claymisher 03-06-2010 09:44 PM

Re: Commenter Court: The Return (Robert Wright & Aryeh Cohen-Wade)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by TwinSwords (Post 153499)
LOL, maybe. But you never know. Considering the crazy theology some of these people adhere to, I don't think we can ever be totally sure they're not going to do something completely crazy.

I agree with you that Palin has almost no chance of winning the Republican nomination, but if there's one thing you can say about the Republican Party and its presidential field, it's that there is no shortage of total lunacy. I might actually prefer Palin to win the nomination because she'd be easier to beat and she's a more well understood threat than, say, Rick Perry. Perry could probably get elected before voters ever figured out what he really stands for.

One thing that will be interesting is to see how the tea partiers react when they realize they've been coopted by Republicans -- something that won't occur to them until the Republicans take back the White House. As long as Obama's president, the tea baggers won't realize they're being used, because they will share the same objectives: Stop Obama's march to totalitarian Marxism. But once a Republican is back in the White House, they are going to want to see some actual results on their anti-government platform, i.e., the near total elimination of government.

I know what you mean about Perry. It was like that with Bush in 2000. He had almost no profile at all during the election. A lot of his campaign events where invitation-only fundraisers, and he mostly didn't talk in his own commercials. It was like they were hiding something ...

If I remember the ancient lore of the teabaggers correctly, it started as a tiny little tax protest and was massively promoted, spun, and amplified by Fox News, rightwing talk radio, and the Koches. Note the stimulus included a tax cut. Taxes on working people have actually gone down under Obama. When the rightwingers are back in their leaders will stop inciting them, and they'll shut up again just like they did under W.

kezboard 03-06-2010 09:56 PM

Re: Commenter Court: The Return (Robert Wright & Aryeh Cohen-Wade)
 
Quote:

But once a Republican is back in the White House, they are going to want to see some actual results on their anti-government platform, i.e., the near total elimination of government.
You know that's not going to happen, though. Once a Republican is in the White House again, everyone will stop tea partying and return to fuming at home about the War on Christmas or some such.

ETA: I wouldn't worry too much about Rick Perry. I think a large segment of the country will have a Pavlovian reaction to that Texas accent and just be unable to vote for him because in the back of their mind they won't be able to hear anything but "We've got a problem in America...Too many ob/gyns are unable to practice their love with women" and "I know how hard it is to put food on your children".

Florian 03-07-2010 09:53 AM

Re: Commenter Court: The Return (Robert Wright & Aryeh Cohen-Wade)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by claymisher (Post 153488)
I bet she gets fewer votes than Le Pen.

You misunderstood.

Le Pen is a well-spoken, well-read man, easily superior to 90% of American politicians in that respect. His ideology, which is abhorrent today, would have been perfectly at home in the period 1850-1940, when most people believed that nations were made up of homogeneous "races." Indeed Le Pen has visited Israel several times and praised Israelis for wanting to preserve their "ethnic identity."

His party has never won more than a few seats in the National Assembly, always because of anti-immigrant sentiment (read: anti-Muslim). I daresay that if you added up all the anti-immigrant votes in the US, you would have something close to the 8% of French who vote for Le Pen's party.

Palin, the last I heard, was supported by something like half of the Republican party. She is not like Le Pen. She is simply a yahoo.

PS. It never fails: criticize the US and American liberals show their true colors.

Florian 03-07-2010 10:16 AM

Re: Commenter Court: The Return (Robert Wright & Aryeh Cohen-Wade)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by TwinSwords (Post 153487)
I agree with Kez that your tone and style are obnoxious, and probably self-defeating, (same could be said of me, though), but I refrain from criticizing (or even being bothered by) your tone/style because I think there's significant underlying truth to much of what you say on this matter, and I think it's helpful for Americans to hear it. I wish you could make your points on the question of American cultural shortcomings a little more gracefully and effectively. But Jesus, I wish I could do that with my own points.

I also think people are revealing some insecurity when they get upset by your critique. People should, IMO, accept it for what it is: A honest opinion and a valid, if not necessarily entirely accurate, viewpoint.

I also harbor what I hope are not just delusions that you actually don't hate America and Americans as much as you pretend to. My hope is that you're brutal because you're trying to make a point, but that there is at least some measure of hyperbole in your remarks.

There is some hyperbole in my remarks, but I feel that I have earned my right to speak ill of the United States. My father was American and I attended one of its best universities. I have a high opinion of American universities in general, but I have also seen enough of the country and studied its history and culture to feel that I am fortunate to be the citizen of another country.

Americans in general are much more sensitive to the opinion of foreigners about them than Europeans are to the opinions of Americans (or other Europeans) about them. I suppose it is the result of a long history of rivalry, emulation, mutual contempt, war etc. In any case, my opinion of the bhtv political diavlogs is simply an expression of my boredom. Most of the participants are terribly second-rate.

Florian 03-07-2010 10:21 AM

Re: Commenter Court: The Return (Robert Wright & Aryeh Cohen-Wade)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by claymisher (Post 153491)
Stuff like "I naturally find the US inferior in every respect" is the kind of cartoon French hauteur that used to make me think Franco was playing with us. It's so weird when people conform to comic stereotypes.

Last time I was in Paris, flipping channels on the tv in my hotel room (where Samuel Beckett once lived!) there was:

a panel of philosophers discussing cultural hegemony,
another panel of philosophers discussing I don't know what,
a David Bowie concert,
a documentary about mime (I am not making this up),
The A-Team dubbed into French.

I don't know if the celebrity philosopher phenomenon is something to be proud of, but I wish America could produce a philosopher like Jean-Baptiste Botul.

I would be happy if America could just produce a philosopher. French television is awful, but nothing will ever compare to the dreck of American television.

claymisher 03-07-2010 12:37 PM

Re: Commenter Court: The Return (Robert Wright & Aryeh Cohen-Wade)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Florian (Post 153578)
You misunderstood.

Le Pen is a well-spoken, well-read man, easily superior to 90% of American politicians in that respect. His ideology, which is abhorrent today, would have been perfectly at home in the period 1850-1940, when most people believed that nations were made up of homogeneous "races." Indeed Le Pen has visited Israel several times and praised Israelis for wanting to preserve their "ethnic identity."

His party has never won more than a few seats in the National Assembly, always because of anti-immigrant sentiment (read: anti-Muslim). I daresay that if you added up all the anti-immigrant votes in the US, you would have something close to the 8% of French who vote for Le Pen's party.

Palin, the last I heard, was supported by something like half of the Republican party. She is not like Le Pen. She is simply a yahoo.

PS. It never fails: criticize the US and American liberals show their true colors.

Le Pen got 17% in 2002, which is, according to my calculations, 62 years after 1940. But yes, America does have a yahoo problem.

It's not often liberals get attacked for their patriotism. Hey, this is kind of fun! Keep it coming! But I should point out that I didn't disagree with you. France really does a lot more of the high culture thing than America (So does Britain). In what other country would Roland Barthes have a newspaper column? And if it wasn't for Cahiers du Cinéma we never would have discovered how good American movies were.

claymisher 03-07-2010 12:38 PM

Re: Commenter Court: The Return (Robert Wright & Aryeh Cohen-Wade)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Florian (Post 153581)
I would be happy if America could just produce a philosopher. French television is awful, but nothing will ever compare to the dreck of American television.

Come on, take the bait! Botul!

AemJeff 03-07-2010 12:43 PM

Re: Commenter Court: The Return (Robert Wright & Aryeh Cohen-Wade)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by claymisher (Post 153586)
...And if it wasn't for Cahiers du Cinéma we never would have discovered how good American movies were.


:)!

kezboard 03-07-2010 12:50 PM

Re: Commenter Court: The Return (Robert Wright & Aryeh Cohen-Wade)
 
Quote:

His ideology, which is abhorrent today, would have been perfectly at home in the period 1850-1940, when most people believed that nations were made up of homogeneous "races."
That's pretty stupid, isn't it?

Florian 03-07-2010 01:01 PM

Re: Commenter Court: The Return (Robert Wright & Aryeh Cohen-Wade)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by claymisher (Post 153586)
Le Pen got 17% in 2002, which is, according to my calculations, 62 years after 1940. But yes, America does have a yahoo problem. .

Truly, truly deplorable, I agree, but that was the result of the French two-ballot election system (there are no primaries in France). There were too many abstentions in the first round (fragmentation on the left, apathy on the right), but in the second round Le Pen was trounced by a majority seldom seen in the history of the Fifth Republic.

Quote:

Originally Posted by claymisher (Post 153586)
It's not often liberals get attacked for their patriotism. Hey, this is kind of fun! Keep it coming! But I should point out that I didn't disagree with you. France really does a lot more of the high culture thing than America (So does Britain). In what other country would Roland Barthes have a newspaper column? And if it wasn't for Cahiers du Cinéma we never would have discovered how good American movies were.

I took a course with Roland Barthes, many, many years ago, alas. So how can I disagree with you?

bjkeefe 03-07-2010 02:22 PM

Re: Commenter Court: The Return (Robert Wright & Aryeh Cohen-Wade)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Florian (Post 153580)
Americans in general are much more sensitive to the opinion of foreigners about them than Europeans are to the opinions of Americans (or other Europeans) about them.

How I wish I could believe that were true across the population. As far as I can tell, though, it is only true for those of us who are generally labeled Not Real Americans. Sarah Palin's Real Americans do not give a shit what any furriner thinks about <strike>us</strike> them.

Florian 03-07-2010 03:09 PM

Re: Commenter Court: The Return (Robert Wright & Aryeh Cohen-Wade)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by kezboard (Post 153590)
That's pretty stupid, isn't it?

Stupid? Not necessarily. Different times, different morals.

Florian 03-07-2010 03:15 PM

Re: Commenter Court: The Return (Robert Wright & Aryeh Cohen-Wade)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by bjkeefe (Post 153608)
How I wish I could believe that were true across the population. As far as I can tell, though, it is only true for those of us who are generally labeled Not Real Americans. Sarah Palin's Real Americans do not give a shit what any furriner thinks about <strike>us</strike> them.

I am sure you are right about Sarah Palin and her followers. But I still think that educated Americans in general are more sensitive to the judgment of foreigners than, say, the French or the British qui se détestent si cordialement (who cordially detest one another).

bjkeefe 03-07-2010 03:39 PM

Re: Commenter Court: The Return (Robert Wright & Aryeh Cohen-Wade)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Florian (Post 153616)
I am sure you are right about Sarah Palin and her followers. But I still think that educated Americans in general are more sensitive to the judgment of foreigners than, say, the French or the British qui se détestent si cordialement (who cordially detest one another).

Key word: educated.

Depending on how you define the term, I might well agree with you, although it also has to be said that, sadly, I am not very often exposed to non-Americans talking about how they themselves are seen by others.

ledocs 03-07-2010 07:13 PM

Re: Commenter Court: The Return (Robert Wright & Aryeh Cohen-Wade)
 
Let me put in my perspective here, which may differ somewhat from Florian's. France Culture is, in general, more high-brow than bhtv, there is no question about that, it can't really be debated. On the other hand, I am often disappointed by time spent listening to the philosophical shows on France Culture, also. There tends to be a lot of high-brow talk that doesn't really go anywhere, and it takes forever to get to nowhere. I think the problem is the oral form, frankly. I was also terribly disappointed by most of the grad seminars I had, by most of the lectures I've ever heard, no matter who gave them, and so on. I once heard Saul Kripke lecture to a jammed large auditorium in Berkeley, when Kripke was regarded as the new Wittgenstein. There was no takeaway, after he spoke for over an hour. The only takeaway was that there was no takeaway. I've been around some of the smartest people on the planet in my life, and what I conclude in the end is that the main reason to attend classes, or lectures, or to listen to them, or to debates, as opposed to reading something else, or to reading transcripts of the things we listen to, is a combination of laziness and a desire for social contact of some kind.

Most of the annual sponsored big-time lecture series in universities are also pretty bad. Time would be better spent waiting for the edited form of the lectures to come out as books. But these series are social events for the departments and universities that sponsor them.

Bhtv has a kind of familiarity and informality that is impossible in French culture, and that can be a rather good thing. The whole phenomenon is specifically American. The French quasi-equivalents of this kind of thing on France Culture are more formal, because the participants never let their hair down in the way that most Americans do. It's just a more formal country, and the academic scene is also more structured and more formal, in complicated and weird ways.

On Stanford Radio there are broadcasts of cultural interest hosted by a guy in the Italian Department, I don't remember his name. He has hosted a couple with a French philosophe named Michel Serres. Serres visits the French Department at Stanford and presumably gets paid a fair amount of money to do very little. I attended a few seminars he gave at Stanford before we moved to France. Anyway, if a person were interested, he could find the most recent Stanford program featuring Serres and listen to it, but it's in French. At the end of it, the interviewer asks him a question, and he goes into this peroration that lasts for about 10 minutes, and which is interesting, but which does not really address the specific question. It's just kind of an expository set-piece that he has at his disposal that explains a part of his "philosophy." (Insofar as Serres is a philosopher, he is a philosopher of history, as far as I can tell, although he is quite a polymath and has written books on a wide variety of subjects.) The point is, that phenomenon is typically French, if not specifically so, in my view. You ask a question, and you get an encyclopedia article as an answer, and the article addresses not your specific question, but a related question, or perhaps the question you should have asked, if only you thought in exactly the terms of the interviewee.

France Culture probably gets a more generous subsidy, certainly on a per capita basis, than PBS ever got from the US Government. So, assuming that that is true, this is the important fact to know about it, apart from the fact that France is a democracy that supports high culture and the arts more than the US does. But the artists here nevertheless grouse a lot about lack of government support, in my experience. It's incredible. We live in the boonies, and the cultural offerings available are spectacularly good. We live in the equivalent of the rural outskirts of Davenport, Iowa.

By the way, here is the most important thing. Bob Wright just said something really dumb, or at least very out of date, about the French, in a very recent diavlog. He resuscitated the stereotype that the French would scoff at an American's bad accent or botched attempt to speak French. That might happen occasionally, but it's basically no longer true. The new, and much more prevalent attitude is that English is a much more important language than French and that any attempt to speak French, or ability to do so, is a proof of the anglophone's generosity and cosmopolitanism. It is very common now for French people to want to practice their English with you, even if your French is pretty good or quite good. It doesn't matter if your French is much better than their English, they want to speak English. And another thing. The kind of Frenchman who thinks of the US as a country of yahoos is pretty rare, I think. Most sophisticated French people have now visited the US at least once, they know better. They have family or friends who have studied at American universities. They had an education minister, Claude Allegre, who had worked at American universities and was well aware of the superiority of American technical education and resources, especially in his own field of biology.

I had recently recorded, quite by chance, one episode of a televised travelogue about the US produced by a French actor named Gerard Klein, I think. I don't recognize him, this is the first time I've seen him. We watched it last night, and quite by chance, it was about San Francisco, my home town, the place I lived most of my life. Well, he spent some time talking to an architect who lives on a fancy houseboat in Sausalito, the show opens at Levi Strauss World Headquarters, he drives a Tesla electric car in Silicon Valley, and he spends time with a weird American Thai visionary architect, who is also a champion amateur boxer, but who has designed this weird Gaudi-like ecological house in Berkeley, a place neither my wife nor I knew about, which is remarkable in itself. So this show was produced for an obscure French travel television station. Oh, he also talks to a Senegalese restaurateur in San Francisco. I can't tell you what an idealized picture the French have of San Francisco, even or especially those who have visited San Francisco briefly, a picture which is certainly perpetuated by a TV show like this one. When people find out that we have moved to where we have moved from San Francisco, they tend to be quite astonished. When I watch French television, which is actually somewhat rare, because almost all of my TV-watching time is spent watching recorded movies or NBA games (I can watch three games per week on French satellite TV), I very frequently see the US being lauded in various ways. The idea that the French are generally highly critical of the US is just very out of date. Of course, they were highly critical of Bush, they were overly optimistic about Obama (as was I, but the French were more so), and there are some influential intellectuals, like Olivier Todd, who are highly critical of the US.

And for more on this, and related topics, please see MY BLOG.

bjkeefe 03-07-2010 07:20 PM

Re: Commenter Court: The Return (Robert Wright & Aryeh Cohen-Wade)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by ledocs (Post 153641)
[...]

Interesting take, ledocs. Thanks for the detailed thoughts.

kezboard 03-07-2010 10:47 PM

Re: Commenter Court: The Return (Robert Wright & Aryeh Cohen-Wade)
 
I think educated Americans often suffer from a sort of version of what the Australians call "cultural cringe" -- the inferiority complex that intellectuals from anti-intellectual cultures have when looking at cultures that place a higher status on intellectualism. But I definitely don't think that Americans are more concerned about what foreigners think of them than people from other countries are, although we may certainly be more concerned about what foreigners think of us than the French are. The second question I get whenever I'm in the Czech Republic, after "What are you doing here?" is "What do you think of us?"

kezboard 03-07-2010 10:51 PM

Re: Commenter Court: The Return (Robert Wright & Aryeh Cohen-Wade)
 
No, I mean it's stupid for Le Pen to subscribe to 19th-century vintage racial theories in 2010, regardless of how well-spoken he is.

PreppyMcPrepperson 03-08-2010 06:10 AM

Re: Commenter Court: The Return (Robert Wright & Aryeh Cohen-Wade)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by kezboard (Post 153666)
The second question I get whenever I'm in the Czech Republic, after "What are you doing here?" is "What do you think of us?"

Yep. South Asia's the same.

Florian 03-08-2010 11:34 AM

Re: Commenter Court: The Return (Robert Wright & Aryeh Cohen-Wade)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by kezboard (Post 153667)
No, I mean it's stupid for Le Pen to subscribe to 19th-century vintage racial theories in 2010, regardless of how well-spoken he is.

It isn't as simple as that, as I am sure you must know as student of Czech culture. 19th-20th century nationalism existed on a spectrum. Originally, nationalism was "leftish" (self-determination of peoples and all that), but at some time in the late 19th century it blended with race thinking: People talked of the French race, the British race, the German race, but also of the the white and black and yellow races. Race was a confused concept, but it wasn't always associated with biological racism.

I'm not trying to justify Le Pen, just saying that his ideology is coherent with a certain vision of the "nation" as a homogeneous entity. People today who talk about culture, multiculturalism, ethnicity, ethnic identity etc are just as confused as old-fashioned nationalists about what it means to be a citizen.

Florian 03-08-2010 12:15 PM

Re: Commenter Court: The Return (Robert Wright & Aryeh Cohen-Wade)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by ledocs (Post 153641)
Let me put in my perspective here, which may differ somewhat from Florian's. France Culture is, in general, more high-brow than bhtv, there is no question about that, it can't really be debated. On the other hand, I am often disappointed by time spent listening to the philosophical shows on France Culture, also. There tends to be a lot of high-brow talk that doesn't really go anywhere, and it takes forever to get to nowhere. I think the problem is the oral form, frankly. I was also terribly disappointed by most of the grad seminars I had, by most of the lectures I've ever heard, no matter who gave them, and so on. I once heard Saul Kripke lecture to a jammed large auditorium in Berkeley, when Kripke was regarded as the new Wittgenstein. There was no takeaway, after he spoke for over an hour. The only takeaway was that there was no takeaway. I've been around some of the smartest people on the planet in my life, and what I conclude in the end is that the main reason to attend classes, or lectures, or to listen to them, or to debates, as opposed to reading something else, or to reading transcripts of the things we listen to, is a combination of laziness and a desire for social contact of some kind.

Most of the annual sponsored big-time lecture series in universities are also pretty bad. Time would be better spent waiting for the edited form of the lectures to come out as books. But these series are social events for the departments and universities that sponsor them..

All very true, but it is important for people who like to talk to be able to listen to others talk, even if everything said is very forgettable in the end (and is there anything more forgettable than a lecture by an analytic philosopher?) The French proclivity to talk and to talk well and abundantly, which you describe below, is bred into them by their education system.

Quote:

Originally Posted by ledocs (Post 153641)
Bhtv has a kind of familiarity and informality that is impossible in French culture, and that can be a rather good thing. The whole phenomenon is specifically American. The French quasi-equivalents of this kind of thing on France Culture are more formal, because the participants never let their hair down in the way that most Americans do. It's just a more formal country, and the academic scene is also more structured and more formal, in complicated and weird ways. .

That is one of the reasons I like to listen to bhtv. My complaint had nothing to do with the informality of the format but with the emptiness of so much of the political commentary. But my perception may just be an allergy to a certain kind of brain-dead American conservative/libertarian, or a lack of interest in the daily news cycle.

Quote:

Originally Posted by ledocs (Post 153641)
I very frequently see the US being lauded in various ways. The idea that the French are generally highly critical of the US is just very out of date. Of course, they were highly critical of Bush, they were overly optimistic about Obama (as was I, but the French were more so), and there are some influential intellectuals, like Olivier Todd, who are highly critical of the US.

I am not so sure I agree with you there. There are many aspects of American casino capitalism that the French across the ideological spectrum reject. And the more they learn about the reasons for the recent débâcle the more justified they are, imo, in rejecting it. French anti-Americanism has a long history, and no doubt has a long future before it. But it is true, as you say, that the French don't consider Americans to be yahoos. What surprises me, though, is that so many Americans despise the French.

ledocs 03-08-2010 02:31 PM

Re: Commenter Court: The Return (Robert Wright & Aryeh Cohen-Wade)
 
I agree with you, Florian, that lots of French people are critical of America's role in the financial crisis, but what reasonable person would not be? I just meant that I don't think there are lots of French people walking around with noses turned up in Gaullist disdain of everything American, as though America has produced nothing of value culturally or politically, or that there are even lots of Parisian waiters who are looking for opportunities to behave disdainfully towards vulgar American tourists. Le Pen might be a figure who comes close to exhibiting this attitude of Gaullist disdain, I'm not sure. I was astounded by how articulate Le Pen is the first time I saw him on television. I wonder if there are not a lot of similarities between Le Pen and the early William Buckley.

It is important to realize that American literature is quite popular among the French reading public. Noir fiction and movies, for example, are iconic in France, someone like James Ellroy is admired, and he seems like a real lunatic to me, and not like a particularly good writer. We just heard him on a BBC show, the World Book Club. And American music is, of course, extremely popular. Woody Allen has always been very popular in France, Philip Roth is now very well known, certain authors, like Paul Auster, are more read in French translation than they are in English, I think. The influence of America in France is enormous. I actually wish that Starbucks had a bigger penetration. I would like it if all the McDonalds were replaced by Starbucks.

Once we were in Toulouse, I was carrying a thermal cup with some coffee or tea in it on the street, and a kid in an outdoor cafe started heckling me from a long distance away. The thermal cup is virtually unknown in France, and people don't drink take-out drinks. I could sympathize more with the presumed premium on leisure and lounging around in cafes, if it were not for the ubiquity of cell phones among the heckling public, and if the small cups of espresso were not so expensive. A large cup of drip coffee to go is a very good thing, even more to be appreciated when one is traveling.

claymisher 03-08-2010 02:55 PM

I love italics
 
Ever notice how often Franco turns the conversation to his obsession (idée fixe? bête noire?) with the topic of France vs USA? He's like a guy from Philly who can't stop talking about nem Eagles.

Florian 03-08-2010 02:58 PM

Re: I love italics
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by claymisher (Post 153698)
Ever notice how often Franco turns the conversation to his obsession (idée fixe? bête noire?) with the topic of France vs USA? He's like a guy from Philly who can't stop talking about nem Eagles.

Ever notice how claymisher turns the conversation to his obsession with saying nothing in particular?

Florian 03-08-2010 03:02 PM

Re: Commenter Court: The Return (Robert Wright & Aryeh Cohen-Wade)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by ledocs (Post 153696)
I agree with you, Florian, that lots of French people are critical of America's role in the financial crisis, but what reasonable person would not be? I just meant that I don't think there are lots of French people walking around with noses turned up in Gaullist disdain of everything American, as though America has produced nothing of value culturally or politically, or that there are even lots of Parisian waiters who are looking for opportunities to behave disdainfully towards vulgar American tourists. Le Pen might be a figure who comes close to exhibiting this attitude of Gaullist disdain, I'm not sure. I was astounded by how articulate Le Pen is the first time I saw him on television. I wonder if there are not a lot of similarities between Le Pen and the early William Buckley.

It is important to realize that American literature is quite popular among the French reading public. Noir fiction and movies, for example, are iconic in France, someone like James Ellroy is admired, and he seems like a real lunatic to me, and not like a particularly good writer. We just heard him on a BBC show, the World Book Club. And American music is, of course, extremely popular. Woody Allen has always been very popular in France, Philip Roth is now very well known, certain authors, like Paul Auster, are more read in French translation than they are in English, I think. The influence of America in France is enormous. I actually wish that Starbucks had a bigger penetration. I would like it if all the McDonalds were replaced by Starbucks.

Once we were in Toulouse, I was carrying a thermal cup with some coffee or tea in it on the street, and a kid in an outdoor cafe started heckling me from a long distance away. The thermal cup is virtually unknown in France, and people don't drink take-out drinks. I could sympathize more with the presumed premium on leisure and lounging around in cafes, if it were not for the ubiquity of cell phones among the heckling public, and if the small cups of espresso were not so expensive. A large cup of drip coffee to go is a very good thing, even more to be appreciated when one is traveling.

The influence of America in France is enormous if you know nothing about France.

nikkibong 03-08-2010 03:07 PM

Re: I love italics
 
girls, you're both pretty.

claymisher 03-08-2010 03:09 PM

Re: I love italics
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by nikkibong (Post 153701)
girls, you're both pretty.

NB, don't even try. I'm not sleeping with you.

Florian 03-08-2010 03:24 PM

Re: I love italics
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by claymisher (Post 153702)
NB, don't even try. I'm not sleeping with you.

Quel mauvais coucheur!

Tr: bad bedfellow or bad customer

ledocs 03-08-2010 08:13 PM

Re: Commenter Court: The Return (Robert Wright & Aryeh Cohen-Wade)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Florian (Post 153700)
The influence of America in France is enormous if you know nothing about France.

http://www.america.gov/st/business-e...0.2717859.html

Whatever. I meant that the American influence is enormous when seen in the context of the view that there is an all-pervasive Gallic disdain for America and everything it stands for.

Wonderment 03-08-2010 08:26 PM

Is BHTV "American"?
 
Very interesting post. I read it yesterday and then found myself thinking about this part today:

Quote:

Bhtv has a kind of familiarity and informality that is impossible in French culture, and that can be a rather good thing. The whole phenomenon is specifically American.
I think you're on to something there, and I hope others with bi/multicultural backgrounds will chime in.

Of course, one has to be fluent in English and highly conversant in American culture (NY Times level) to find BHTV interesting.The question is, would the BH model translate smoothly to other cultures and languages?

Are we generally cosmopolitan or parochially "American?" Would a Bolivian or Korean BHTV work? Is BH just a natural use of emerging technologies?

SkepticDoc 03-08-2010 08:36 PM

Re: Is BHTV "American"?
 
http://www.ciudaddelasideas.com/2009/English/home.html

Except for the incidental difference of language, intellect has no boundaries...

I am sure some of us understood and enjoyed the Mexican intellectuals when they spoke Spanish. I am sure that the French have plenty to say, just as the Japanese, Germans, Israelis, Swedes etc... (look up "Taste of Cherry" by an Iranian filmmaker, you'll see...)

I enjoy watching foreign films because they still try to deliver a message that was lost from the 1930-50s.

Only if I could remember where I left my babelfish....


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