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”