Saturday, October 15, 2016

puppets detroit

professor john merriman:i don't know if you've been following the events in francein the last couple of days. by the way, you could,those of you who know french, you can get tfn and france 2--iprefer the latter--on your computers, if you want to followit. just go to google.affaires,or just go to google and type in france 2, or type in tfn,and you can get the news from one o'clock, that is treizeheures, or from vingt heures,from eight o'clock at night.

and my other two universities,rouen and lyon ii are completely shut down,and rennes, and tours, and toulouse,because this is a law that was--it's going to come intoeffect called the loi pã©cresse,after the person who proposed it.and what it's going to do is it's going to,among other things, it's going to make the budgetsof each university kind of independent,and it's an attempt to--this is

a logical transition into ourtopic today--to americanize french universities so that in away the result, which the students don't like,is you'll have--you already have sort of a gap between thereally good universities like paris i or lyon ii,and the ones that just sort of struggle along,many of the new ones, like the pas-de-calais,that a friend of mine actually set up when he was in theministry, and the little ones like chambã©ry andbesanã§on and all the

others.and because of the conditions that are so difficult in frenchuniversities, which are woefullyunderstaffed, and the ones that were built inthe early '60s and early '70s, like the infamous villetaneuse,which is where i've given a talk once, which was paris--ithink it's paris xiv, and the conditions are justvery, very dreadful. so, there's been a lot ofopposition there. and now that sarkozy ispresident, that the

police--these interventionsmusclã©es, or kind of really brutalinterventions by the crs yesterday, and a couple ofpeople hurt at nanterre, where 1968 began,and in rennes i think--no in tours,, as a matter of fact when i was teaching in rouen--i do acourse, i've done it the last couple of mays,a course that's a couple of weeks there, and the first day iwas doing it-- i'd just only met my students and we went to ademonstration against sarkozy,

in front of the palace ofjustice, and we were outnumbered by the crs.and they took photos of all us. and i think that one of thethings that's going to happen in the future is that this is goingto be a very tense time, i, the big strikes in paris now, of course which,comme d'habitude, like all the time,have taken out the trains about, oh, one out of--aboutfifteen percent of the trains are running and the whole line,if you know paris,

the whole metro,the rer, the whole line b, line b, which goes fromsaint-rãªmy-les-chevreuse all the way to roissy,to the airport, is completely shut down,and the buses are running at about ten percent.and, so, it's just chaos. i remember when everybody wason strike when i was teaching at lyon.i'd take--the trains weren't on strike but the buses were andi'd take the train up to lyon, from where we live or from nearwhere we live,

and i'd have to walk to bron,which is where lyon ii is, and that's about five miles orsix miles, and i mean it's not a long run or a long walk.but people are very inconvenienced.and the other thing that's going on, and the reason thatthe railroads are out, has nothing to do with thepã©cresse law, it has to do with the fact thatsarkozy's attempt to americanize france involves sort ofwithdrawing rights that certain categories of workers received.and there's a lot of anger now

in paris, well in other citiestoo, against the strikes. and most people in france donot approve of the strikes; sometimes they do,sometimes they don't. i'll give you an example,people that work on the metro, who are underground,the drivers of the metro, they're underground all thetime. imagine working eight hours aday and you're underground the whole time--they have the right,in principle--is it fifty, does anyone remember if it'sfifty--do you remember if it's

fifty or fifty-five for leschauffeurs de mã©tro? fifty-five.but there's some of the tgv drivers--and that's a big,high stress occupation; it's not like driving a planebut--you don't drive a plane, i don't know,you pilot a plane--but they have the right to retire atfifty. now, that seems awfully young,and sarkozy in his campaign against the ill-fated campaignof sã©golã¨ne royal, said that he "wanted to makethe french work again."

he also said a lot of otherprovocative things, and for a son of immigrants,a fils des immigrã©s,who seems to hate immigrants, very provocative things.but, anyway, he's going to carry thesepolicies until the very end, and so this is going to happenquite a lot. i've got a sountenance dethã¨se, a thesis defense at lyon,a jury i have to participate in,in december,

and i'm kind of wonderingwhether this is going to take place.but you can follow this through the newspapers and through--theother thing, if you read french andwant--well, you can follow it through the new yorktimes online or anything, but you can also getlibã©ration.affaires, so you can read libã©every day or you can read le monde or whatever,if you want to keep up on this. i'm going to be,this afternoon,

calling my student pals inrouen and finding out what's going on with of them, who's always in everydemonstration, he's always there,and so last time he went out to a demonstration and all thesepolice--and they know him because he's in all thedemonstrations, and this one policeman said tohim, he's got this huge stick and he says to the student,this little teeny guy, and he has this stick and hesays, "i'm reserving this for

you sven,"and all of this. and they have a memory too.but, anyway, so ã§a bouge en francemaintenant. well, i want to talk--that is,i think, a logical thing to talk about, because i'm going totalk about anti-americanism in france.and it's hard to do, to talk about anti-americanismfrom 1945 until now in a mere fifty minutes.and let me say at the outset that having spent half my lifeor half the last thirty years of

my life in france--more thanthat, actually--i've never onceencountered anti-americanism, which ã§a n'a rienã  voir avec, it doesn't matter.but what i am saying is that the anti-americanism in francehas always been against the united states policies and,particularly in the earlier days, the united states' sort ofcultural imperialism, but has had nothing to do withanti-americanism against american people.i've been introduced in a book,

in which i contributed somesort of random musings about living in ardã¨che,as a political refugee in france, at various times,and people joke about that. so, i'm differentiatinganti-americanism, like people they don't likeamericans, with anti-u.s. policies and an anti-,what was considered by many people, particularlyintellectuals, sort of a cultural arrogance,that risked making france less than what it had always been.and, so, let me talk a little

bit about that.and here i'm drawing heavily at the first part of the lecture onmy friend dick kuisel's book on anti-americanism in the earlystages; but it's an interesting storyand it's one that's worth, when i teach in rouen i go often to this cafã©that's near the railroad station there,and it's a cafã© where sartre and simone debeauvoir, who are well-known to almost everybody,used to go all the time,

and it's kind of fun to be in acafã© where you imagine that they were.and they were a good example of kind of the intellectualanti-americanism that emerged after world war, why did this kind of philosophical and intellectualanti-americanism emerge? you have to put it in thecontext of the ideological controversies that emerged outof world war one; and by that i mean from 1945well into the mid-1950s. there were dock strikes againstthe arrival of u.s.

military equipment.remember, the americans had huge, huge bases in france untilthe time of de gaulle. if you go to the town ofchã¢teauroux--which isn't a very interesting town and theonly great restaurant in it left and moved to tours--you'd go bythese just abandoned airfields that used to just be full ofamerican military, air force equipment,and officers. and, so, you see a lot of thesesigns. there were angry outbursts evenagainst the marshall plan.

the marshall plan,as you know from other courses, brought american aid in greatquantities to western europe, and one of the reasons was tokeep western europe out of soviet influence.and this drew predictable attacks from the particommuniste, from the communist party,because of the obvious ideological division that wasthe cold war. so, and it also was the timewhen the rosenbergs, in this country,were executed for allegedly

passing nuclear secrets tosoviet agents; and these kinds of executions,as had been the execution of sacco and vanzetti,who were anarchists who were executed in 1927,these have, with the mass press,although way before internet, great ramifications.but the french economy grows so rapidly over the next thirtyyears, thirty glorious years, and part of the rise ofconsumerism and the consumer culture--in france it was backedby the arrival of such novelties

as refrigerators and things likethat--was very much identified with u.s.culture and was debated, particularly by intellectuals,rather heatedly. there were pro-americanintellectuals who made the case in the very beginning that theamerican path was the way to go. the most famous was probablyraymond aron, a-r-o-n, but there were otherslike franã§ois mauriac--and i can't remember ifchip in his book mentions--yes, i'm sure he does.but the communist intellectuals

were adamantly against allthings that were american, and of course they were verymuch over the top. dick kuisel quotes the famouscommunist poet, louis aragon,describing the u.s. as, quote, "a civilization ofbathtubs and frigidaires," in 1951,as if this was a very bad thing;and he did not mean it, as kuisel says,as a compliment. it was the parti communiste,the communist party,

that coined phrases like the"coca-colanization of france."and the arrival of coca cola in france of course was a terriblyimportant moment--more about that in a the time of the nato pact, the north atlantic treatyorganization, in 1949,these kinds of debates hit a boiling point,and in an age of graffiti, the graffiti,"yankee go home," was a bit, the u.s.

nuclear capacity,which was of course very soon matched by the soviet nuclearcapacity, seemed to raise the cry against the americans.there was a sacm conference in 1950 against nuclear power.and france is a country that almost leads the world in thepercentage of its energy that is drawn from these nuclear plants,of which several are not all that far from us,and there's a big sort of anti-nuclear reaction now that'smostly through ecologists and the greens and folks like that.but in the beginning,

because the americans are theones who had used the nuclear bomb--other people have neverused a nuclear bomb, never sensed it,have used the nuclear bomb. we live in a world in whichisrael has a nuclear bomb, in which pakistan has a nuclearbomb, in which india has a nuclearbomb, as well as france and britain, and china as well,i do believe. so, therefore all of this isstill very scary. but in the origins thisanti-americanism was increased

by the fear that the americansand their cold war against the soviet union would turn--thatthe damage would not be done in mississippi or in minnesota butwould be done in europe. and, so, intellectuals alsoaccused the americans of ignoring european culture.remember the infamous donald rumsfeld referred scathingly to"old europe," at a time when the americans were invading iraq,as if old europe with its quaint streets,and old churches, and long cultures weresomething not worth remembering.

but, again, the critics ofamerican culture were over the top.l'humanitã©, the communist newspaper,and still today, said that one could starve evenif one owned a telephone; and the telephone,where you can't even find a fixed phone anymore--i can'ttelephone, i can't even call on a phonewhen i go back to university of michigan because there isliterally only one fixed phone left on the campus,and i don't have a cell phone

because i don't like cellphones, i can't stand them. i agree with those people whosaid that they had great faith in humanity until the cellphone; and plus my daughter's lostthree of them already. but the french minister ofcommunications, in 1964--this is the frenchminister of communications, in 1964, avant vous,before you existed, but not before i existed--hecalled the telephone a gimmick, in 1964.but it wasn't the telephone

that drew heat it was aboveall--well the refrigerators, you couldn't tell the averagehousewife living wherever, in the morbihan or someplace,in brittany or wherever, that the refrigerator wasn't agood deal. but, yet, for the communistparty a frigo, a refrigerator,a frigidaire which is a model--i don't know if it stillis--was only good for making ice-cubes for fancy aperitifswhere you would drink american or scottish--american bourbon orscotch whiskey.

so, they--aragon,this again is the communist poet--wrote, "a ford automobile,the civilization of detroit, the assembly line,the atomic danger, encircled by napalm"--now,he said this early on. remember, it's the americanswho used napalm in vietnam, it was the americans usednapalm in vietnam. "here is the symbol of thesubjugation to the dollar, applauded even in the land ofmoliã¨re, the yankee more arrogant thanthe nazi holocaust"--this is

absurd--"substitutes the machinefor the poet, coca cola for poetry,the ford for victor hugo." it degenerated to that extent.a great sociologist called edgar morin, who has a brilliantbook on a--it's called the red and the white,about a breton village--he called readers digest "apocketsize stupifier, a drug for little minds," andhe attacked, was one of the earliest to attackfranglais--and more about that in awhile--that is,the absorption of american

terms into the french language;toothpaste, for example, instead of dentifrice,flooding the french language. but, again, you have to putthis in the context of the times, and that's what i guesswhat historians try to do. sixty percent of the people inthe communist party thought the u.s.was readying an aggressive war, and almost ninety-five percentof people in the communist party were against the presence ofu.s. bases in, remember,

the guy who got rid of the u.s.bases in france was charles de gaulle, who was anything but acommunist, who was completely opposite of a communist,but his view, as we'll see,was that france had to maintain its status as a great power,had to have a neutral path and influence in places where frenchwas spoken, particularly in west and northafrica, and in the middle east in parts, in lebanon,and things like that. so, there were someintellectuals who tried to find

a third way, who weren't kind ofparroting the communist party, or were going to kowtow the waysarkozy is to america. and le monde,for example, which is without question themost reputable newspaper in france,though libã© is quite good too,et c'est plutã´t ã  mon goã»t,but it took a more neutral position in all of this,because there were many people in france who weren't communiststhat thought that the marshall

plan was a way of buying offeurope. and i wasn't--i was vaguelyaround in those days, but the fear was,after world war one there was the thought that nobody wouldever want another war; after world war two,and after the atomic bomb, and after the horrors of allthat had happened, and the holocaust,people were quite certain that there would be another, it was a time of great fear, and so these were bigissues.

in 1952, at the time of thevisit of u.s. general matthew ridgeway totake control of nato forces, there were huge demonstrationsagainst the united states. he was called a butcher in thekorean war, which certainly wasn't true;he was called a war criminal and that wasn't true either.but this came at a time when it was the government of a guy,who just died only a couple of years ago,lived to be about 130-years-old,called antoine pinay,

who was from saint-chamond,near saint-ã‰tienne, if i remember correctly,and he had been accused of collaboration during the war,and he was in power. and he tried to ludicrouslyenough break the influence of the parti communiste.and one of their leaders--i didn't know about this incidenttill i read kuisel--one of the incidents was he accused jacquesduclos, a name you can forget,but he was an interesting guy who was leader of the communistparty,

of being a spy for the soviets,and his proof was that they'd found two dead pigeons in thebackseat of his car, and an autopsy on the birds,that he thought they were carrier pigeons that weresmuggling, going to send secrets off tosome soviet spies, somewhere out of the country.and of course they did an autopsy on these birds and theydiscovered--i don't know how you do this, do an autopsy;i didn't want to be in the room--but they were not carrierpigeons but they were

pigeons--people in france eatpigeons, pigeonneau,and that they simply--he had them in his backseat because hewas going to take home and cook them,hopefully with lots of garlic, and to eat them.and jean-paul sartre, he said it at the same time,that if he had to choose sides in the cold war,he would choose the ussr. now sartre, like lots of fellowtravelers, were delusional about what had happened in stalin'ssoviet union,

and his partner,simone de beauvoir, who's terribly important in therise of feminism, as i'm sure you know,she came to the u.s. in 1947--she had been in1947--and she liked the sort of dynamism of the americaneconomy, and she liked its freedom,but she was immediately suspicious of racism in theunited states, in the 1940s and the 1950s,as indeed in our own time, sadly, though not as much,was a time of racism;

and she said so,she came right out and said, and that became a part of theanti-american discourse. because when the americanswould get holier than thou about how people in europe treatedtheir minorities, all you had to look to theunited states, where i can think back to myown childhood when the three freedom workers were so brutallymurdered in mississippi; and they would point to, what about the role of coca-cola in all of this?i imagine you may have seen

coca-cola a few times in yourlives. it became--it still is soidentified with america, and it probably is,i think it's fair to say, the single item that is mostidentified in the rest of the world with the united states;that you couldn't talk to people in france or anywhereelse about baseball and you could not talk to them abouthotdogs, although this strange thingemerged in the 1960s called le hotdog,which are two sort of

miserably,almost frozen frankfurters with some sort of god-awful cheeseput on them, and put in what was then the equivalent of amicrowave; but it was coca cola.and as you know the product was created i think in the late1880s. it's very hard to get into thearchive, though kuisel managed to do it, to get into thecoca-cola archives; afraid you might find thatrecipe. and of course i think somebodytold me that cocaine was put

originally into coke,at the beginning of it all. let me give you some exampleshow coke and american view of itself and view of the worldcame to be. "we will see that every man inuniform gets a bottle of coca-cola for five centswherever he is and whatever it costs,"was what coca-cola had to say about the relationship betweensoldiers if they survived the bataan death march and whatever,and that was it. coca-cola actually sent peopleas "technical observers," a

phrase they used,to see where bottling plants could, after the fighting ended,be set up in europe. one u.s.soldier wrote a letter in which he said, "to my mind i am inthis damn mess as much to help to keep the custom of drinkingcokes as i am to preserve the million other benefits ourcountry blesses its citizens with."sixty-four bottling plants were set up in europe after the war,immediately after the war, within a couple of years.they expand to belgium and

luxembourg and the netherlandsin 1947, also to switzerland and italy, and then to france in1949. the olympics of 1950 were heldin finland, in helsinki, and there was not yet--had notyet been time to build a coca-cola, what they did is they got a hold of some d-day landingvessels, filled them with coca-cola,and the coca-cola company landed on the shores of finland,literally, with all these publicity material and with720,000 bottles of coca cola.

now, the chairman of--i didn'tknow this either until i read kuisel--the chairman ofcoca-cola was james farley, who was a former aide tofranklin roosevelt and thus he was very--had good contacts,and he was a militant anti-communist who identifiedthe drinking of coca-cola with democracy.the soviets and in their satellite states did not drinkcoca-cola but good old americans drank, you're going to run into huge lobbies in these belgium you're going to run

into the beer lobby,terribly important. in the pays-bas,in the netherlands, you're going to run into thebeer lobby, and in france you will run headon into that lobby you already know something about,the wine lobby, which in a way is neither leftnor right, but--it's neither left nor right,it's a little more complicated than that.and they tried to stir up popular action againstcoca-cola.

a communist paper in italy saidthat drinking coke would make children's hair turn white andtherefore you shouldn't do that. in austria thecommunist, the biggest communist newspaperin vienna, wrote that coca-cola plants,by virtue of the machines they used, could be easilytransformed into plants capable of turning out nuclear bombs,and so that good viennese and good austrians should avoid the"insidious, numbing drink." cokes had begun to arrive infrance after world war one but

only in very small numbers andin extremely fancy cafã©s. and, so, the coca-cola--kuiselgot into the archives to find all this--coca-cola marketersdivided france into six regions and figured they shouldanticipate each person drinking six coca-colas per year.the problem is that foreign investments, such as buildingplants, required the permission of the ministry of finance;and that all this anxiety comes along.the ministry of finance gets involved in all of thisbusiness, the debate reaches the

chamber of deputies in the1950s; and also this merges with otherfears of other american products.john deere--some of you may be from illinois,isn't that where john deere is made,the tractors and all that--and that is by far the biggestsuccessful company in marketing machinery that's been part ofthe french agricultural revolution since world war two;but of course the little producers in france were againstjohn deere as well.

it also comes at a time,as you know, of widespread outrage ofintellectuals and filmmakers against the hollywoodization offrench movie theaters, and because france,its idea and attitudes towards their own movies has always beenthat as its attitudes towards almost all industrialproduction, that france makes these finelittle products of quality, and the arrival of,god-forbid, the charlton heston's of the world and johnwayne and all this stuff--so,

these debates are going onamong intellectuals and film watchers, et cetera.these debates just go on and on. radio stations in france nowhave to play a certain percentage of french music,as opposed to bruce springsteen, and the stones,and whatever; they have to have a certainpercentage. and, so, there is still thisparanoia that english or french music or other kinds of musiccoming will wipe out what's left of the french music industry,and that people won't play

jacques brel anymore,or georges brassens, or lã©o ferrã©,or johnny hallyday, who anyway who was born belgianand he has his own problems, so it has nothing to do with it.but, yet, when there are these debates it seemed like the tiesbetween coke and the u.s. government were even stronger.coca-cola demanded that the u.s.state department intervene in some way to stop this kind ofuprising against the arrival of coca-cola.u.s. papers went wild.

"coca-cola was not injurious tothe health of american soldiers that liberated france from thenazis, so that communist deputiescould sit in session today," was one editorial in a u.s.paper. you can't spread the doctrinesof marx among people who drink coca-cola.the dark principles of revolution and a risingproletariat may be expounded over a bottle of vodka on ascarred table, such as in morry's or someplace like that,

or even a bottle of brandy,but it's utterly fantastic to imagine two men stepping to asoda fountain and ordering a couple of cokes in which totoast the downfall of their capitalist oppressors.and so it went. but coca-cola arrived infrance, it got permission to be produced in france and to bedrunk in france, and still is,though often by american tourists in france.i have been on several occasions in really good,and in one case even great--and

this is not dissing americans,forgive me--great restaurants and seeing americans orderingcoca-cola with their four or five-course meal.and that does make me sad. does it make me sound like asnob? i've seen people drink milk,too, and things like that. anyway, what can i say?i shouldn't get so involved in all this did people like coca-cola? a poll, a sondage--thefrench take to american polls, do these polls all the time;sondage is the word for

a poll--in 1953 said that onlyseventeen percent of people who drank it liked it,and sixty percent not at all, and the other ones couldn'tremember because they'd gone on to something else,drinking something else i guess. but the dykes began to breakand millions of cokes are sold every year in france,as everywhere. now, this is just an aside butthis is the same case as in africa;the debates have not been the same but one of the interestingthings, and i think sad things

about the places i know inafrica--which are very few, but i have family members whoknow africa pretty well--is that the domination of coke,particularly in places that are muslim, in which people don'tdrink alcoholic beverages, the domination of coke,and fanta, which are very, very expensive,for people who have almost no money,and the fanta sort of becomes the equivalent of a celebrationwith champagne in france, or the united states,or some places where people

drink.and, so, some of the same issues, some of the same debatesare there, and these companies just make zillions off thesedrinks. and i'm not criticizing thesecompanies, am i? i guess i don't know.but, anyway, now let's talk about some ofthe other aspects of anti-americanism before i end infifteen minutes or so with the obvious ones,today. well, architecture, for example.many of the debates about

preservation,about keeping paris, poitiers, anywhere you want toname, the beautiful center ofstrasbourg, the way they have always been, have involvedfighting against the skyscraperization,if you will, the gratte-ciels,les gratte-ciels, the skyscrapers in the late 1960s there was a huge debate over the tourmontparnasse. and the tour montparnasse isright on the--it's where the

station of montparnasse is inparis, it's right beyond the boulevard montparnasse there;was built with the enthusiastic cooperation, if not money in thepockets, of george pompidou, the president of france,who said, "we must renounce this outmoded aesthetic"--that'san exact quote. and, so, the big battle overthe tour montparnasse which is--here i give my own view but,mon vue--it is a hideous building that is a blight on theskyline of paris. and it's said the only thinggood about it is you can't see

it when you're viewing parisfrom the top; and they have the elevator thatshoots up to the top; and it destroyed--well,anyway, what can one say, it's an obvious, people that defended the tour montparnasse,which is identified with chicago and the skyscrapers,would say, "well, look, well people criticizedthe tour d'eiffel, the eiffel tower when it wasbuilt in 1888 and 1889"; and zola was among those whosigned saying this is awful,

it must go.and it is part of what people go to, people do not go to see the tour montparnasse becausethe eiffel tower represented changes in industry and steeland iron and all this stuff, and the tour montparnasse justrepresents kind of an american approach to architecture thatthe traditionalists found wanting.and, so, what they did subsequently is they built ladã©fense, which is outside of paris butyou can see it if you stand,

for example,in the tuileries, or around there;you can see it beyond the arc d'triomphe--and that's wherelots of business is, that's the kind ofamericanization of french architecture and business.but generally the french have been very good of trying toprotect paris from the planners who would destroy the way theplace looks with an americanized kind of architecture.there've been other problems too.the constructions at place

d'italie and the tourmontparnasse became only the most famous.and appropriately enough, these kinds of battles toprotect paris against this kind of architecture have involvedthe far right, conservative right;not the faisceaux, the fascist right,but the far right, like my late friend louischevalier, a very conservative man,who was the greatest historian in paris, or my friendfranã§ois laurier who's

now head of the committee topreserve old paris--with people on the left,like sort of the french equivalent to me,against the center, against the kind ofplanners who just want to make money.but other aspects of americanization--the wordpavilion in france--people wanted to have their houses inthe prosperous suburbs at best, at saint-remy-les-chevreuse,for example, most--or the suburbs,in the time we're talking

about,until 1945, are miserable places, but that people insaint-germain en laye in the west of paris or versailles,you know what, they wanted to have theirpavilion which was a big kind of modern americanized house withall these things--cell phones, refrigerators,all this business, swimming pools and lawns.what could be more american than lawns?now, the vast majority of the people who live in the parisianregion do not live in houses,

they live in apartments,and the vast majority live in buildings that they do notown--or, not the vast majority but themajority do. but that became a big issue.the television, the television--people thoughtthat television would destroy france.i used to say that when charles de gaulle died,finally, colombey-les-deux-eglises,he died of boredom watching french tv;because french tv,

which has some of the beststuff around but also has some of the worst,just talk shows that go on, and on, and on,it's just numbing. but also they took all thesethings that i've never watched in my life, like dallas,that used to be a big show and all these things;i have no idea what they are. but people--even our very dearfriends, you go there and they're watching this stuff.well, tv's not just american, but that whole kind of culturewas identified with america,

and intellectuals didn't likethat very much; people should be readingbooks-- and they should be reading books too,but who am i to say? i watch espn hours every dayand every game that's on, so i can't really say i don'twatch tv. clothing, it used to be--thefirst years and years that i was living in france or went tofrance, you could tell who was anamerican in about one second by looking at their feet;i don't spend a lot of time

looking at people's feet but youcould tell the way they looked because they wore tennis shoes,and tennis shoes now are called baskets.but now everybody wears them the same way.and jeans the same thing, because there weren't jeans infrance; now everybody wears jeans.i can still tell who's american and who isn't,usually. but the clothing that wasidentified with america was seen as being somehow un-french.and of course there's the big

war between france high coutureof french fashion and trying to preserve,as milan tries to also, and they've been verysuccessful at that. but clothing was one thing aswell. euro disney,what can one say about euro disney?somebody called it a cultural chernobyl;chernobyl was the big nuclear plant that blew up in kiev--andcertainly the idea of mickey mouse and goofy and all thesepeople.

and you go and you-- i've neverbeen there, i would never walk in the place;you spend cinquante balles, you've spent,what, fifty euros to get in and so your kids can get sick eatingamerican cotton candy. but, again, people go over thetop. or mcdonald's, ha ha.mcdonald's, which started in france really in the '80s.burger king tried and failed. now, mcdonald's is a big issue,and josã© bovã©,who came to yale a couple of

years ago--josã©bovã© is a guy who now--who became identified withthe struggle against mcdonald's. he actually lived two years inl.a., though he speaks english--i wasn't here when hecame, my daughter was a translatorfor him, and introduced him and all that.but he's the one who led the struggle to try to first of allto preserve his part of the aveyron,larzac, against making it a strafing practice range for thefrench air force,

and has gone after mcdonald's,as representing the globalization that's going tohurt local commerce. now, mcdonald's has tried tocompromise in some ways, and if you go get amcdonald's--and i won't go in the place;well, i shouldn't say that because we're recording this,but i haven't been in years in france--but they have theselittle salads with a few pieces of goat cheese in it,to go along with the two million calorie burger,and all that.

but what josã©bovã© did is that he and his friends went up and brokeup--didn't hurt anybody, but they sort of trashed amcdonald's in millau, which is aveyron,in the south, right near this huge,huge bridge, the biggest span bridge ineurope. and of course he went on trialand he became a presidential candidate, and i guess--mydaughter said he was a great guy.but mcdonald's became an issue.

and i said, "well,maybe it won't work." but mcdonald's,because you can eat cheaply there, because everything's soexpensive in france, so expensive,they're always just--well you could drive by,there's one in auvergnat, there's one everywhere;they're always full of people eating whatever it is they eatthere. so, it became a symbol moreimportant than the reality, mcdo--mcdo, comme on dit enfranã§ais--became a

symbol of globalization,first of americanization and then of globalization.and then what comes along now but starbucks.there's three or four. there's one in the marais inparis, there's one i saw in--some are on opã©ra,and there are a couple of other ones there, and they soon willbe everywhere. and evenhyper-marchã©s, supermarkets;now, people don't just hate supermarkets anymore,but they used to.

the big ones are leclerc,and auchan, and mamouth and all these--leclerc is probably thebiggest, i mean the upscale version, after marchã©.now, i remember in the 1970s that people thought thatsupermarkets were just terrible things.why? because they were going to,and did, destroy local commerce, that most villages nowdo not have the little ã©picerie,that grocery store, that made it possible for oldladies just to walk the

equivalent of a few hundredmeters to buy their milk, and now they can't do thatanymore. now, it's more than just thedisappearance of a way of buying food, it's the disappearance ofa place where you get together and exchange news in themorning. our grocery store disappearedabout ten years ago, or about eight years ago,because everybody goes to the super-marchã©;hyper-marchã©, super-marchã©,c'est la mãªme chose.

though the other thing that itcould attack, could interfere with,but has not as much as we feared,were markets, the saturday market,the wednesday market; the saturday and wednesdaymarket, depending on the size of the town, that are all overfrance. and in fact people still,even young people your age, still have a sense that you'vegot to protect--you've got to save the market and you've gotto--the people that produce

there,that bring what they produce in their fields there,buy goats cheese, picodons,whatever, wine from producers directly.and that's part of the ambience, that's what's greatabout living in france, or living in germany,or living in pays-bas, or living anywhere,in belgium. and, so, many people will goand buy the big things of milk and the big items,paper towels and all that,

but then they will still go tothe market, not just for a trip of nostalgia but because theproducts, they know they're buying frompeople they know and all that; so that fear probably turnedout to be less than one had worried about.and then of course there's the question of franglais.every about, oh, maybe five,or six, or seven years, somebody in one of theministries gets it into his or her head that franglais has todisappear from the vocabulary,

the official vocabulary,the administrative vocabulary of france.franglais is the absorption into daily parlance of wordsthat are non-french, of which--the first one thatreally took over, at least in my memory,was le weekend. and there were attempts,i think under giscard d'estaing, and there's one evenmore recently under early stages of jacques chirac's presidency,to send stern circulars around saying in a correspondence youshall not use le weekend,

but you'd rather use la finde la semaine, the end of the week.well, that lasted a matter of days because that's simply notterribly practical. english words began topermeate, with a sort of chic sense of being cool,the french language--le drugstore.i can remember around paris saint-germain,at the metro there, en face,right across there was le drugstore;and it was, it was a pharmacy

and it had your basic greenflashing light saying it's a pharmacy, but they also sold allsorts of things. it was almost like anticipatinga supermarket, and the term was ledrugstore. it wasn't une pharmacieor la pharmacie, it was le drugstore.and people debated that. you could go on and on aboutthis. i'll just give you a couple ofexamples; these are obvious ones,i just wrote them down because

they're obvious.aprã¨s les sweaters;a sweater d'hiver; voici les fullyfashioned des beaux jours;new, c'est smart, s-m-a-r-t--voilã --votre shopping club,le veritable wash and wear, les drinks de gensraffinã©s, the drink of people who arerefined. now, this had already startedto happen in the 1890s with

certain terms,as i suggested when i was talking about ã‰milehenry, that began to--the long drink,for example--that began to infiltrate the french language.the hotdog became the chien chaud, in these times ofthese various commands. but basically withglobalization and with the american cultural dominance,these attempts are basically just putting small fingers invery large dykes. why did it matter so much,all of this?

it's because france is nolonger a great power, and intellectuals and lots ofother people in france, including me,are determined that french culture retain its place in theworld. and i am chronically sad to seeanother supermarket go up where there already have been two ofthem; it saddens me terribly to seethe golden arches almost everywhere now,and subway, which is a chain i actuallyhappen to like a lot,

and those are becoming all overthe place. so, we're fighting against theways that cannot be halted, but in a way may not be all avery bad thing, so long as a sense ofperspective is maintained; and that often was notmaintained in the early days of the almost hysterical battleagainst the mounting empire of coca-cola.have a wonderful thanksgiving vacation, see you next time,and go blue.

No comments:

Post a Comment