Ah, the bottomless pit of the PS! Well on their way to making all France nostalgic for the Sarkozy period. Remember how (justly) Sarkozy was mocked for mocking books like La Princesse de Clèves, which he viewed as unnecessary dejecta in the curriculum keeping out such new masterpieces as the latest self help book from the ex ceo of General Electric, or something. This was taken to demonstrate his barbarous touch. And who doubts that President Bling was contemptuous of French culture? Yet, one thing you can say for Nicky is he actually knew the name of a book.
Fast forward to Francois Hollande’s Minister of Unculture, Fleur Pellerin, who not only could not name a single Modiano novel when asked on tv, but excused herself by saying that for the past two years, since she’s been minister, she hasn’t had time to read a book. Presumably, in her whole life before those two years, she had other excuses: she had to make a phone call, she was sleepy, books take so long, my eyes hurt, I’ve got a good buzz on from smoking this weed and don’t want to spoil it, etc.
Well, bad enough. But this is the Hollande mini-siecle, and it isn’t enough that the Culture minister make a fool of herself on tv. Figaro invites an intellectual, one who teaches the big big boys, supposedly, at Science Po. And he, too, seems to find reading books, heavens, something so incredibly difficult that – well, here’s the comparison he uses:
“Postuler qu'un ministre de la Culture doit être lui-même lecteur assidu de littérature, c'est aussi idiot que de supposer qu'il faudrait pratiquer régulièrement la chirurgie pour être un bon ministre de la Santé.”
Here we get the full shitty flavor of the kind of cretinism that media intellectuals exude. Reading this article, four hundred years of French culture in its various tombs collectively vomited.
One would think that if reading a novel by Modiano (who does not even have an esoteric style, like Toni Morrison – the American comparison would be Paul Auster) is like doing brain surgery, that professors of literature should be paid like brain surgeons. But that is not where the clueless illiterates in the Hollande crewe are heading France: rather the key words are cut and privatize. The NYT published an article today about where France is heading because, apparently, there’s no money for culture – why, that would take it away from the banks! But not to worry – there are always people around who will tell you that it is positively healthy to bow down to the billionaire. They are such a loveable breed:
Some view the shifting winds as a healthy sign. Frédéric Martel, a writer who hosts a radio show on the arts and wrote a book on the funding of culture in the United States, noted that the conventional view in some quarters used to be that culture financed and organized by the state was good and culture shaped by market forces, whether Hollywood or Disneyland, was bad.
This prejudice is slowly dissipating, he said. Increasingly, France is importing the model of the nonprofit foundation bankrolled by a wealthy benefactor. Such patrons can also afford risk-taking star architects like Frank Gehry, who designed the Louis Vuitton Foundation, or Renzo Piano, who did the new quarters of the Jérôme Seydoux-Pathé Foundation, devoted to the history of cinema, which looks like a giant armadillo.
“There is a new way of thinking that having a billionaire create a nonprofit foundation for the arts is a very good thing and a public good,” Mr. Martel said. The notion that business can pollute the arts is changing, he added.”
A new way of thinking? And here I am, thinking that this new way of thinking was named a millenium ago. It’s called sycophancy.