23 January 2006

frenchman comes to america, writes book

The French have a knack for deep philosophical analysis. Being a "thinker" is a big deal in France. The French public practically deify their intellectuals whereas we Americans demonize ours.

Bernard-Henri Levy has added to the long tradition of French writers who analyze the American way of life with tomorrow's release American Vertigo. I would guarantee he's closer to Tocqueville in style than he is to Baudrillard's postmodern treatise on American hyper-reality (one of my favorites).

The LA Times made the Levy's new release sound rather appealing:

LÉVY has no patience for anti-Americanism. His book blasts President Bush but paints often-sympathetic portraits of neoconservative Washington intellectuals, Air Force cadets, Border Patrol agents and other figures whom foreigners tend to demonize. Although Lévy's friends and political soul mates are mainly on the left, he scolds much of the "progressive" intellectual elite for being "in a profound coma."

"I tried to deconstruct clichés fed by France about America but also by America about itself," he said. "Sometimes, talking to the intellectuals of the East Coast, I was stunned by their blindness toward their own country…. This idea that America is on the verge of fascism, for example. I think there are fascists in America, there are bad guys. There is a right-wing America, but America is not on the verge of fascism."

Yeah, I wouldn't call it fascism. That's such a loaded word. Orwell argues that the word fascism has no inherent specific meaning other than it implies something that is not desirable, and I would agree.

I'm fond of Levy's analysis of Los Angeles:

As much as the disciple of Tocqueville admires America, however, the affection falters in Los Angeles. He does not get Los Angeles. He calls the city "illegible and unintelligible."

"The definition of a monster according to Aristotle is too much substance and not enough form," Lévy said. "That's exactly the case of Los Angeles. It may be a European point of view. I say it with all the prudence of someone perhaps with a traditional idea of a city…. I don't say I hated it, but I was lost. 'Lost in Translation.' Perhaps it's the city of the future. But without me."

I'll have to add this to my long, long list of books I want to read.


I guess you could say this is the "Original Pime". I stopped blogging here regularly in May 2008 (if you don't count the B-Sides diversion - yes it gets confusing) when I joined the Tumblr revolution. Going forward bravely into 2009, this site will serve to house any large image work I produce.

Peace out.


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