Monday, March 1, 2010

no Ségolène!

Fortunately, Ségolène Royal’s opinions about philosophy are not, shall we say, pertinent to her job. But at a time when the stuporous Sarkozy and his evident, all embracing ignorance of French literature has at least discredited him with the reading public – why, oh why, does the former leader of the Socialist party intrude herself into this ridiculous affair of Bernard-Henri Levy, as though to even the odds between connais pas and connais pas? Levy is like the philistine American’s idea of what a French intellectual is. His intellectual influence in the world has been, happily, null – even smaller than the contemptible group that sought to plunge France into Bush’s Iraq adventure, people like Andre Glucksman.

That Mitterand, that canny politico, felt that he’d gain some credit and ease some minds by embracing Levy’s revivalist anti-communism in the late seventies was a small price to pay for power (the larger price was supporting the emplacement of cruise missiles, but let us not go there). Royal’s invocation of Mitterand to defend Levy’s factory made philosophy is a gesture that is, indeed, royal – it has the old, perfumed air of the Versailles court, with its favorites and intrigues. There’s no “manhunt” against Levy – in fact, his 128 page ‘philosophy’ work would doubtless sink into obscurity if he hadn’t livened things up by quoting an obvious joke about Kant as a serious analysis. When was the last time Levy read Kant? When he was twenty? It makes me sad for Royal, actually. Couldn’t some friend have taken her aside and asked her not to make herself even more ridiculous than Levy?

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