The Curation of National Memory

The Curation of National Memory

Key concept: the gradual morphing of high culture into entertainment. To that could be added the descent of entertainment into gibberish — the fate of popular culture. Nowhere in the article on the reformation of the French Ministry of Culture that follows, is there any mention that theoretical science — natural philosophy — is also high culture and therefore to be preserved and transmitted; or that scientists and mathematicians such as Poincaré and Pasteur were as much intellectuals as, say, Sartre or Mallarmé. But that would be to return to the lost battles of the early ’60s, in which the novelist-scientist C. P. Snow endured the contempt of the Cambridge literary critic, F. R. Leavis, for his suggestion that ignorance of the Second Law of Thermodynamics was just that: ignorance.

Another key concept is that of the “curation of national memory”. How quaint this must sound to the modern European mind, pickled as it is in progressivist theorising and its louche festivals. Finally, the interviewed authors seem tacitly to approve of France’s first place in the global league-table of tourist destinations. Mass tourism has become a problem of hydraulics: how to pump an average of 35,000 “visitors” a day through Notre Dame de Paris without so many insolent boots destroying the fabric of history. Conversely, how to make available to the earnest student such treasures as those of the Louvre, without the risk of his being crushed. Mass tourism is the dynamic form of static multiculturalism, and numerically far the greater. Continue reading “The Curation of National Memory”

The Game of Values

The Game of Values

It seems self-evident that culture teaches values: not values culture, as might be implied by the political discourse of the West, bereft as it is of all historical perspective. There, human rights recast as universal values have overshadowed any notion of Occidental culture or civilization as anything worth curating, much less preserving intact. Indeed, the word culture barely rates a mention, even as a footnote: except of course as the nullity, multiculturalism, which is dinned daily into every ear. Where national culture comes into conflict with arbitrarily chosen human rights, the latter prevail: except of course when it appears necessary to bomb both of them simultaneously.

The relentless harping on unexplained ‘values’ hides a political vacancy that is yet to be filled. It is a marker for political hypocrisy and Europe’s strategic void. Where there is no strategy (goal), the void is filled by tactics and technocracy (The European Commission). Tactics (“more Europe!”) cannot be passed off indefinitely as strategy. In this interview with Le Figaro, the French writer Robert Redeker sets the record straight on the purpose of politics and education. Needless to say, he mentions no role for the Commission in either.

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How To Be A Conservative

How To Be A Conservative

logo_caesar_35pxRoger Scruton’s little book of lucid prose, How To Be A Conservative, is his first work to have been translated into French. Extracts from De l’urgence d’être conservateur were recently published in Le Figaro under the introduction, Our heritage is also the property of those who have not yet been born. “Although Roger Scruton is a prominent figure in the intellectual life of Britain, he is little known in France. None of his books had been translated into French until Les Éditions de l’Artilleur repaired the omission. Rich, nourishing, stimulating, like the most captivating of conversations, this essay offers a rare pleasure: to explore the sharpness and depth of an intellectual position.”

The Europeans Book Review. In How To Be A Conservative, Scruton leaves a coherent intellectual trail. But the scent crosses a river and gets lost when he appears to genuflect before one of the great shibboleths of Leftist orthodoxy: the independence of race and culture.

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Finkielkraut Plays With Fire

Finkielkraut Plays With Fire

This interview appeared originally in Le Monde on 23rd October, 2013, on the publication of Alain Finkielkraut’s book, L’Identité malheureuse — The Unhappy Identity. It typifies the then attitude of much of the official French media to the breaking of received taboos. Now, two years later, and under the weight of subsequent catastrophic events such as Charlie Hebdo and the migration crisis, the first hairline cracks in the media front are coming into view. However, to all appearances, Le Monde remains today as staunchly bien-pensant as before.

The tone of the article appears ironic more or less throughout; and the final paragraph is characteristically moralizing. Le Figaro, on the other hand, seems to be taking a more balanced view of political and social issues as Europe enters what many observers regard as some kind of endgame.

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