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"This text should be read in its historical context and be taken lightly"

You will allow me to disagree - this text is definitely not designed for the purely analythical mind :) To me, the "felt", the spiritual side to Cioran's view about the French spirit is at least as important as the rational side.

Moreover, I suspect that upon reading this, most French today would agree and even feel pride of being French, from reasons which would fully confirm Cioran ! :)

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)

by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot franša) on Thu Jun 11th, 2009 at 05:05:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Okay, there is a felt, spiritual side to Cioran's writings but they were valid in their time. While he describes Frenchness that flatters the French still today, he also holds firm views about how the German character differs from that.

Now, it is no flattery to tell Germans that they have bad taste, even if German taste doesn't compare to how French will define taste. Cioran couldn't possibly have written anything pleasant about German taste in 1941 unless he himself had been a Nazi.

That's the 'tangled' part of the story: the historical context and his timeless, genuine perception of people within that context. This is why I beg to differ from P. Ayme when he says Cioran compares the French with Nazis.

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Thu Jun 11th, 2009 at 05:24:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"pour les Allemands, les banalités sont considérées comme l 'honorable substance de la conversation..."

That is not flattering. Il me plait davantage d'imaginer que Cioran denonce ici plus les Nazis que les Allemands. Pour l'essentiel du reste, comme Valentin remarque, Cioran tourne la force essentielle de la culture francaise en une faiblesse... Parcequ'il regarde la defaite, l'accident....

Patrice Ayme Patriceayme.com Patriceayme.wordpress.com http://tyranosopher.blogspot.com/

by Patrice Ayme on Thu Jun 11th, 2009 at 10:44:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think his statement about German lack of taste was more in the direction of Germans possessing a "sense of practicality", a spirit turned to functionality, rather than unwielded artsy stuff - someone recently wrote to me about that same thing.
Cioran obviously writes from the French point of view, and I for one see absolutely nothing in his text reminding of the nazi occupation. If I cut out the year, I doubt any one could have recognized it.

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)
by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot franša) on Fri Jun 12th, 2009 at 08:44:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
as you point out. Namely he mostly says the French are hyper critical, that's the only religion and affectionate respect for a behavior that they truly have. As you point out, most of today'sFrench would pretty much be proud of this. Indeed so, and it would be right.

So Cioran is right on the fundamental. He is now wrong on some very interesting evolutions, such as France getting empty of people. That was true in the 150 years before 1945... France natality took a dive, whereas the German one skyrocketed (so Germany ended up with about twice France's 40 millions)... Now it's the exact opposite. Maybe the French spirit, of hyper criticism, was too much to bear,then, but it feels more comfortable now.

Now this French hyper criticism is becoming a rampart against nihilism and also a rampart against the sort of financial abuse and disaster we saw last year (and still ongoing). So the French are feeling better with themselves.

Cioran misattributed France's defeat to France's hyper criticism. It's quite the opposite. Because of hyper criticism, France was well, hypercritical of the Nazis, so was more ready to fight the Nazis than any other democracy. France should have won in 1940, and the Nazis knew it, so they tried a desperate plan, which, in conjunction with bad luck and extremely incompetent tactics on the French side, while Guderian used secretly the ten Panzer division as a sport car on drugs (literally!),led to an extremely accidental defeat.

The defeat was just an accident. What was not accidental, though, is that the Nazis, as they sat in Paris and all over France with 60 divisions, became infused with the French spirit, and increasingly critical of the home office. In the coup of July 1944, the Wehrmacht locked up the SS in France (a tech term: they seized key SS installations, immobilizing the Waffen SS divisions). By 1944, the Nazi Rommel had put a warrant of arrest against the Nazi SS officer that ordered Oradour...

The spirit lives from the critique, and the more critique, the more spirit....

Patrice Ayme Patriceayme.com Patriceayme.wordpress.com http://tyranosopher.blogspot.com/

by Patrice Ayme on Thu Jun 11th, 2009 at 11:10:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There is more than just hypercriticism, I think. And I tend to think Cioran mentioned the "dépeuplement" figuratively - at least this passage seems to indicate it:

"Engendrer des mythes et y adhérer, lutter, souffrir et mourir pour eux, voilà qui révèle la fécondité d'un peuple. Les "idées" de la France ont été des idées vitales, pour la validité desquelles on s'est battu corps et âme. Si elle conserve un rôle décisif dans l'histoire spirituelle de l'Europe, c'est parce qu'elle a animé plusieurs idées, qu'elle les a tirées du néant abstrait de la pure neutralité. Croire signifie animer.

In my understanding, the problem seems to be about "vital ideas", ideals, that France produced and defended in the past (le vrai "rayonnement") and would now be missing. On the contrary, since the '50s France contented copying each and every cultural product of the US - from blue-jeans and country music via Hollywood to the libertarianist ideas of the '60s. What is The Genuine French spiritual or intellectual creation of the last 50 years ?

The part about the germans in Paris is interesting. I've seen a book and several comments about French collaborating with the occupier (and women more than collaborating), but not the converse. Interesting.

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)

by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot franša) on Fri Jun 12th, 2009 at 08:57:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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