Category Archive 'France'
18 Apr 2019

“Simply a Construction Accident”

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Roger Kimball admires the rapidity with which the French authorities definitively determined that Notre Dame fire was an accident and not another case of deliberate arson.

“Auric Goldfinger, in the Ian Fleming novel, dryly observes to James Bond that “Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. The third time it’s enemy action.”

The French investigators have such extraordinary powers of forensic penetration that they can dispense with all such inductive aids to inquiry. Here they have not one, not two or three, but twelve acts of violent desecration in the past month, including an arsonist attack against the second largest church in Paris. Then Notre Dame catches fire—and what a fire it was—on Monday of Holy Week. Even before the fire was brought under control, the authorities ruled out arson. Has the world ever seen a more potent demonstration of investigative prowess?”

RTWT

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On FB, Matthew Keogh said:

Notre Dame Cathedral Fire, a few facts you should know courtesy of the mainstream media:

1. The exact cause of the blaze is still unknown.

2. The exact cause of the blaze is still unknown, but it has been ruled an accident (despite the fact that the exact cause of the blaze is still unknown).

3. The exact cause of the blaze is still unknown, but Islam is the real victim here.

4. The exact cause of the blaze is still unknown which means the damage has not been thoroughly assessed, but it’s not arson.

5. The exact cause of the blaze is still unknown which means the damage has not been thoroughly assessed, but Macron is setting up an international appeal for funding to rebuild despite not knowing how much is needed because the damage has not been thoroughly assessed.

This is the sort of information you get when journalists are in bed with the politicians.

19 Dec 2018

Hollow Way

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A hollow way (chemin creux) at La Meauffe, Manche, France

Appearing like trenches dragged into the earth, sunken lanes, also called hollow-ways or holloways, are centuries-old thoroughfares worn down by the traffic of time.

09 Dec 2018

France’s Rightful King Sides with the Gilets Jaunes

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Louis Alphonse Gonzalve Victor Emmanuel Marc de Bourbon, Duc D’Anjou, should be: King Louis XX of France.

Proclamation on Facebook:


Français, mes chers compatriotes,

Alors que se développe de semaine en semaine sur toute l’étendue du territoire national, le mouvement de protestation et de contestation des « Gilets Jaunes », je tiens à exprimer ma solidarité et ma profonde compassion pour ceux qui souffrent, dénués de ressources, écrasés de charges, humiliés et privés d’Espérance, et qui n’ont d’autre moyen d’expression que de se lever comme un seul homme pour manifester leur déception, leur angoisse et leur colère. Ces Français, c’est la majorité silencieuse qui se tait depuis des décennies et dont certains avaient oublié l’existence. Aujourd’hui c’est le peuple de France qui se dresse pour défendre son mode de vie et sa dignité.

Il est essentiel de l’entendre, essentiel de prendre en compte ses légitimes aspirations.

Bien sûr, il faut condamner et bannir le recours à la violence de certains groupes extrêmes qui cherchent à exploiter ce mouvement profondément populaire pour déstabiliser l’Etat. Cette violence coupable et stérile ne peut que favoriser la cause de ceux qui ne veulent pas entendre le cri de tout un peuple.

En ce jour de l’Immaculée Conception, je confie la France à Notre Dame qui est la vraie Reine de France.

Que Dieu protège la Fille aînée de Son Eglise, que Dieu vienne en aide aux Français malheureux, démunis et souffrants. Qu’Il leur rende l’Espérance et la foi en l’avenir de notre pays qui doit se relever et renouer avec tout ce qui en a constitué la grandeur autant que la paix des cœurs et la douceur de vivre.

Louis,
Duc d’Anjou

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French, my fellow countrymen,

As a week-to-week development throughout the entire national territory, the protest and protest movement of “Yellow vests”, I would like to express my solidarity and deep compassion for those who suffer, without resources, crushed by charges, humiliated and deprived of hope, and who have no other means of expression than to rise as one man to manifest their disappointment, anguish and anger. These French are the silent majority that has been silent for decades, some of which have forgotten existence. Today it is the people of France who stand up to defend their way of life and dignity.

It is essential to hear it, essential to take into account its legitimate aspirations.

Of course, we must condemn and ban the use of violence by certain extreme groups that seek to exploit this deeply popular movement to destabilize the state. This guilty and sterile violence can only promote the cause of those who do not want to hear the cry of a whole people.

On this day of the immaculate conception, I entrust France to our lady who is the true queen of France.

May God protect the eldest daughter of her church, may god help the unhappy, poor and suffering French. Let them give them hope and faith in the future of our country that must rise and reconnect with everything that has made it greatness as much as peace of hearts and the sweetness of living.

Louis, Duke of Anjou.

Fire Macron, hire him.

05 Dec 2018

The Revolution in France

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Smashed face of the Marianne statue inside the Arc de Triomphe.

Jonathan Miller, in the Spectator:

Emmanuel Macron is undoubtedly brilliant. He won all the glittering academic prizes. He had a supersonic ascent into the stratosphere of the French civil service. He even did a spell as a courtier with David de Rothschild’s investment bank, before ascending to minister of the economy under François Hollande, and then winning the most glittering prize of all, the presidency of the republic, aged 39¾.

But his hubris, arrogance and almost autistic detachment from the French in the street is in a class with Marie Antoinette. Except that this time around, the courtier whispers, ‘Mr President, the people cannot afford diesel.’ To which the cloth-eared Macron has, in effect replied: ‘Let them buy Teslas.’

At the blockade on the roundabout outside my local Super U supermarket, la France en bas is not impressed. There has been little violence here, though the local anarchists did attack the village petrol station, putting it out of action for two days. As of this morning, though, the main A9 autoroute between southern France and Spain has been closed for more than 72 hours. There are elements to the protest that are both surreal and terrifying. At the Pezenas exit, the gilets have moved a piano onto the carriageway, and are entertaining the stranded lorry drivers. At Narbonne, just down the highway, a gilet armed with a front end loader picked up a burning car, lifted it high into the air, and dropped it on the toll station. The ungovernable slums around the major cities in France are on the edge. The police are exhausted. Be sure of this, what is happening in France is not over.

There are elements to this affair that remain unclear if not murky. Who are the gilets? What do they want? Can this really be a spontaneous revolt, triggered by a posting on Facebook, provoked by increased taxes on fuel? Christophe Castaner, who has been minister of the interior for only a few weeks, and is already one of the most hated men in France, has rushed to blame the violence on the extreme right. There is not the slightest evidence of this. As far as I can tell, the rightists spent the weekend watching the news channels and posting acerbic comments on social media. ‘I’m running out of popcorn,’ one delighted Marine Le Pen supporter told me from the safety of his armchair, as he revelled in the humiliation of Macron.

In Paris, there were many people wearing gilets jaunes, but were they really gilets jaunes? . . .These protests have been hijacked by political and criminal opportunists, but Macron is making a fatal error if he thinks he can brush off the concerns of my neighbours, who are handing out biscuits to passing motorists, most of whom have posed a gilet jaune on the dashboard in solidarity.

“Attempts to negotiate with this Medusa-like movement are not going to be straightforward. The movement has no leader. Its demands are inchoate or naive. . . But French people are not just fed up with Macron, they are fed-up with politicians generally.”

RTWT

17 Sep 2018

1963: Jean-Marie le Guilcher Worked on Church Steeples Without a Safety Net

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16 Sep 2018

Would You Surrender to the Germans?

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09 Jun 2018

François Mitterrand’s Last Meal

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François Mitterrand, 1916-1996

One of the items I was reading yesterday in connection with the death of Anthony Bourdain referenced this must-read Esquire article on the last meal of French President François Mitterrand, dying of cancer in 1996. They were right: this is a great read.

He planned his annual pilgrimage to Egypt—with his mistress and their daughter—to see the Pyramids, the monumental tombs of the pharaohs, and the eroded Sphinx. Thats what his countrymen called him, the Sphinx, for no one really knew for sure who he was—aesthete or whoremonger, Catholic or athiest, fascist or socialist, anti-Semite or humanist, likable or despicable. And then there was his aloof imperial power. Later, his supporters simply called him Dieu—God.

He had come here for this final dialogue with the pharaohs—to mingle with their ghosts and look one last time upon their tombs. The cancer was moving to his head now, and each day that passed brought him closer to his own vanishing, a crystal point of pain that would subsume all the other pains. It would be so much easier … but then no. He made a phone call back to France. He asked that the rest of his family and friends be summoned to Latche and that a meal be prepared for New Year’s Eve. He gave a precise account of what would be eaten at the table, a feast for thirty people, for he had decided that afterward, he would not eat again.

“I am fed up with myself,” he told a friend.

And so we’ve come to a table set with a white cloth. An armada of floating wine goblets, the blinding weaponry of knives and forks and spoons. Two windows, shaded purple, stung by bullets of cold rain, lashed by the hurricane winds of an ocean storm.

The chef is a dark-haired man, fiftyish, with a bowling-ball belly. He stands in front of orange flames in his great stone chimney hung with stewpots, finely orchestrating each octave of taste, occasionally sipping his broths and various chorded concoctions with a miffed expression. In breaking the law to serve us ortolan, he gruffly claims that it is his duty, as a Frenchman, to serve the food of his region. He thinks the law against serving ortolan is stupid. And yet he had to call forty of his friends in search of the bird, for there were none to be found and almost everyone feared getting caught, risking fines and possible imprisonment.

But then another man, his forty-first friend, arrived an hour ago with three live ortolans in a small pouch—worth up to a hundred dollars each and each no bigger than a thumb. They’re brown-backed, with pinkish bellies, part of the yellowhammer family, and when they fly, they tend to keep low to the ground and, when the wind is high, swoop crazily for lack of weight. In all the world, they’re really caught only in the pine forests of the southwestern Landes region of France, by about twenty families who lay in wait for the birds each fall as they fly from Europe to Africa. Once caught—they’re literally snatched out of the air in traps called matoles—they;re locked away in a dark room and fattened on millet; to achieve the same effect, French kings and Roman emperors once blinded the bird with a knife so, lost in the darkness, it would eat twenty-four hours a day.

And so, a short time ago, these three ortolans—our three ortolans—were dunked and drowned in a glass of Armagnac and then plucked of their feathers. Now they lie delicately on their backs in three cassoulets, wings and legs tucked to their tiny, bloated bodies, skin the color of pale autumn corn, their eyes small, purple bruises and—here’s the thing—wide open.

When we’re invited back to the kitchen, that’s what I notice, the open eyes on these already-peppered, palsied birds and the gold glow of their skin. The kitchen staff crowds around, craning to see, and when we ask one of the dishwashers if he’s ever tried ortolan, he looks scandalized, then looks back at the birds. “I’m too young, and now it’s against the law,” he says longingly. “But someday, when I can afford one . . .” Meanwhile, Sara has gone silent, looks pale looking at the birds.

Back at the chimney, the chef reiterates the menu for Mitterrand’s last meal, including the last course, as he puts it, “the birdies.” Perhaps he reads our uncertainty, a simultaneous flicker of doubt that passes over our respective faces. “It takes a culture of very good to appreciate the very good,” the chef says, nosing the clear juices of the capon rotating in the fire. “And ortolan is beyond even the very good.”

RTWT


Ortolans do look tasty.

24 Apr 2018

Boulainvilliers and the Theory of Government by the Noblesse d’Épée

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Battle of Poitiers.

Nulle Terre Sans Seigneur brings to our attention an interesting French political theorist who essentially visualized as the alternative to Absolutism the same sort of Noble Republic that once existed in Poland-Lithuania functioning, potentially with elective monarchy and all, on French soil. Fascinating reading.

By the time of early modernity, there were various ideas of which organ of the French constitution played a special role. The peerage had its strongest defender in the Duc de Saint-Simon. The absolutists and their insistence on monarchical supremacy were the orthodox school of thought. The Estates-General (defunct as of 1614 during the time Boulainvilliers was writing) and the parlements also had a few radical defenders of theirs, but they were not as influential — Claude de Seyssel’s Renaissance-era idea of a “balanced monarchy” having fallen out of favor, though the parlementaires did have their brief ascendancy during the Fronde.

[Henri, comte de] Boulainvilliers [1658-1722], in contrast, maintained a feudal theory of aristocratic anti-absolutism that the noblesse d’epee (sword nobility), originating from Frankish leudes, were the rightful representatives of the French nation, and though externally differentiated from commoners, were initially internally equal, as with the Polish szlachta. The pre-existing Gallican magnates, as survivors of the Roman magistracy, were entirely distinct from the French nation and its military character. The purpose of drawing this boundary was not to make an ethnic claim to sovereignty, but to underline the crucial link between war and the state. The “equality in inequality” of the pioneer French nobility and the right to judgment by peers which they had was eventually botched when the king, only a military chieftain at first, unduly extended his influence beyond the boundaries of the royal patrimony, and soiled the solidaristic maennerbund of the nobility by his creation of a peerage, the use of ennoblements to elevate free commoners (never more than emancipated serfs in Boulainvilliers’ view) into a courtier robe nobility, and other extra-constitutional measures. …

Now the more tempered defenders of royal absolutism did not deny that private justice was legitimate, but insisted that in this capacity they were acting only as royal justices and not as free magnates. One problem with this was its reliance on a modern, national conception of the nature of sovereignty. One moderate apologist of the French nobility, G.A. La Roque, in his “Traite de la noblesse” of 1678, pointed out that the tributary nature of a prince does not destroy his sovereignty, since there were many examples of kings themselves being vassals of greater lords or feudatories of some sort, while still exercising royal prerogative and displaying their own royal heraldry. Sicily and Ireland (as the Lordship of Ireland), for instance, were once papal fiefs, and acknowledged as such by the vassals invested with them. This implies that kings themselves are simply great magnates, undermining Filmerite assumptions of monarchical supremacy. This is not to say that reciprocal bonds and dues do not apply. …

The Salic law was simply the tribal law of the Salian Franks, and could not be used to justify hereditary succession as an essential component of the crown. Actually, merits of hereditary monarchy aside, ideas of elective kingship still flourished around the beginning of the Capetian dynasty, as the historian Charles-Petit Dutaillis documented in The Feudal Monarchy in France and England from the Tenth to the Thirteenth Century (1936):

    The Archbishop of Rheims “chose the king” in accordance with the agreement previously arrived at by the great men of the kingdom before anointing and crowning him, and the subjects who thronged the cathedral, greater and lesser nobility alike, gave their consent by acclamation. Theoretically the unanimous choice of the whole kingdom was necessary for the election but, in fact, once the will of those who were of decisive importance was made clear, the approbation of others was merely a matter of form. Nevertheless the conventions of the chancery attached considerable importance to it ; the first year of the reign only began on the day of consecration and this rule, closely related to the theory of election, was to last for two centuries.

    In fact, then, this Capetian kingship whose supernatural character we have been illustrating was, at the same time, elective. To the modern mind that may present a strange contradiction but contemporaries found no cause for surprise. The very fact that the kingship was so closely comparable to the priesthood justified its non-hereditary character. How could churchmen deny the divine nature of an institution because it was elective? Even bishops and popes were appointed by election. The monk Richer attributes to the Archbishop Adalberon a speech to the nobles in 987 which does not exactly represent the ideas of Adalberon but it is quite in accordance with the principles of the Church. “The kingdom,” he says, ”has never made its choice by hereditary right. No one should be advanced to the throne who is not outstanding for intelligence and sobriety as well as for a noble physique strengthened by the true faith and capable of great souled justice.” The best man must reign and, we may add, he must be chosen by the “best” men.

This was the theory of the Church without modification or limitation. Once he had been elected by a universal acclamation, which, in fact, represented the assent of a few individuals, and consecrated, he became king by the Grace of God commanding the implicit obedience of all.

Contemporaries like David Hume actually regarded Boulainvilliers to be a republican. This is an interesting question. Certainly, he envisioned the monarchy in voluntaristic and contractual terms. The Frankish warrior aristocracy was the source of power, and he thought that the noble freemen had the right to bind themselves to lords other than the reigning king if the latter did violence to their property. Royal succession was simply one of many private rights. There’s definitely a nativist element to the whole picture, and one could almost draw a parallel between his noble ideology of resistance to latter-day democratic nationalist conflicts with the ruling authorities of composite dynastic states. But what makes him separate is his insistence on the essential role of class divisions in a society. This is anathema not only to the democrats, but to many of the absolutists who want merely a neat bifurcation between sovereigns and subjects, but care little for the natural inequalities in subjects except insofar as they serve the reasons of state. If he seems progressive in some respects, he outflanks his opponents from the right in other, more crucial ways.

RTWT

Robert Heinlen’s concept of linking full, voting citizenship to military service (Starship Troopers 1959) is the essence of the same idea.

Boulainvilliers, in 17th century France, arguing for the implementation of the same political practices and philosophy operating immemorially in Poland, I would argue, demonstrates the existence, and subconscious cultural survival of a universal preliterate European political culture based on a hierarchical society with full civic participation and personal freedom based on military service and the skilled use of arms, featuring the fundamental equality of the warrior (noble, knightly) class, along with limited powers of monarchy and its potentially elective character. Compare the Greek warriors in The Iliad.

04 Feb 2018

“More Chic Than Cruel”

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Nice Adobe Spark essay on L’Equipage Mayennais, a French hunt that pursues wild boar with Anglo-French hounds. French hunting is “more chic than cruel.”

04 Jan 2018

Achilles is Now Black

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Arnaud Florac at Boulevard Voltaire

La BBC a tourné une série sur la guerre de Troie et va la diffuser sur Netflix. Pas très original. Du coup, la chaîne publique britannique s’est rattrapée sur le casting : Achille sera joué par un Noir, en l’occurrence l’acteur David Gyasi. Je crois qu’au tournant de cette année, nous en sommes rendus au stade de l’allégorie. Tout y est. …

Ainsi donc, en 2018, retenez bien : Achille est noir, avoir un enfant est l’affaire de deux mamans ou de deux papas, les réfugiés syriens sont nés à Kaboul, le féminisme s’arrête à l’entrée du XVIIIe arrondissement, coucher avec une fille de 11 ans n’est pas si grave mais draguer sa voisine fait de vous un porc. Je ne crois pas que Huxley, Orwell, Dick ou Bradbury y croiraient. Ça marche trop bien, trop vite. Pas besoin de brûler les livres comme dans Fahrenheit 451 : plus personne ne les lit (à part les futurs classiques : Papi débranche sa perf ou Maman couche avec la boulangère). Pas besoin d’organiser les deux minutes de la haine, comme dans 1984 : il y a Twitter, qui fait ça très bien. « Le mensonge, c’est la vérité » : pas compliqué à faire avaler, dans un monde comme celui-ci.

“The BBC has filmed a series on the Trojan War and will broadcast it on Netflix. Not very original. Suddenly, the British public channel has gone all up-to-date on its casting: Achilles will be played by a black, in this case the actor David Gyasi. I believe that at this New Year, we have reached the stage of allegory. Everything is there. …

So, in 2018, note well: Achilles is black, having a child is the business of two moms or two dads, Syrian refugees were born in Kabul, feminism stops at the entrance of the eighteenth arrondissement, sleeping with an 11 year old girl is not so awful but flirting with her neighbor makes you a pig. I do not think Huxley, Orwell, Dick or Bradbury would believe it. Things change so far, so fast. No need to burn the books as in Fahrenheit 451: no one reads them (except for such future classics as: ‘Papa disconnects his IV’ or ‘Mom sleeps with the baker’). No need to organize the two minutes of hate, as in 1984: there is Twitter, which does it very well. ‘The lie is the truth’: not complicated to swallow, in a world like this.”

Note: In the Iliad, Achilles has blonde hair («ξανθῆς δὲ κόμης ἕλε Πηλεΐωνα» = “she (Athena) grabbed Achilles by his blonde hair”; Iliad, 1.197). That’s probably the most persistent characteristic given for him and is repeated numerous times. The word “xanthē” (ξανθή) can be translated as “yellow”, “fair”, “golden”, “blonde”.

LLTC

26 Jul 2017

French Philosopher Anne Dufourmantelle Dies Attempting to Save Drowning Children

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Anne Dufourmantelle

New York Times:

A French philosopher and psychoanalyst, known for her work that praised living a life that embraced risk, died last week as a result of following her own bold philosophy.

The philosopher, Anne Dufourmantelle, 53, drowned on Friday as she tried to save two children who were struggling to swim off the coast of Pampelonne beach, near St.-Tropez, France, according to a report from French public television.

Ms. Dufourmantelle was on the beach when the weather began to change and the previously safe swimming area became treacherous. She saw two children who were in danger and leapt into the sea to help, according to France 3, before being caught in the rough surf.

She was pulled unresponsive from the water by two other swimmers, and attempts to resuscitate her failed.

Both children survived.

Ms. Dufourmantelle’s action harkened back to her own words.

“When there really is a danger that must be faced in order to survive…there is a strong incentive for action, dedication and surpassing oneself,” she said in a 2015 interview.

RTWT

HT: Frank Dobbs.

03 Jul 2017

France: Then and Now

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