BBC: “French culture under fire”

From BBC News Europe: “French culture under fire“: “France’s arts establishment has been stung into an angry response by the accusation made in an American magazine article that French culture is all but dead. […] The debate over France’s cultural contribution to the world is of course an old one, and can be boiled down to a simple proposition: ‘Just because a work of art finds no takers, does it mean it is worthless?'” […] “For the French, the notion that popularity (read money) is the only criterion for valuing creativity is deeply noxious.”

How is that not deeply noxious to everyone?

It is true that based sheerly on the numbers, French thinkers, artists, authors, musicians, etc., constitute a smaller chunk of the world’s great artists, authors, musicians, etc., than they did, say, even as recently as the ’50s. But in the grand scheme the relative decline is nothing much to worry much about. Then again most of the French do their best thinking when worrying, hence the disproportionately high number of the world’s great theorists who are French.  Marcuse all but institutionalizes theory as a state of perpetual worrying: “The soul takes fright at the hard truth of theory, which points up the necessity of changing an impoverished form of existence.”

As for the French reaction, as Tony said, France seems to be a country in denial of its own low self-esteem. And Tony knows his stuff; he lives with some French girl.

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the emaciation of French culture

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