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an excerpt from Windows on the World: read at your own risk

I have a rather lenghty essay almost ready to go on the French and, in particular, Frédéric Beigbeder's new book, Windows on the World, a continuation of my thoughts from yesterday. I said I would take on Lilli Marleen today, but Andrea took care of that for me, with great skill, per usual.

Before I get around to posting that, and answering some email and replying to some comments, I would like you to read this excerpt from Windows on the World emailed to me by Merde.

'When I think that you will never see my home entertainment system: with a screen as wide as the Lake Superior', said the brown haired guy in Kenneth Cole. - 'Too bad... but don't give up now, the firemen will be here in just a few minutes', said the blond girl wearing Ralph Lauren.

- 'Saint George Soros, pray for us!', said the brown haired guy in Kenneth Cole.
- 'Oh Ted Turner, please save us!' said the blond girl wearing Ralph Lauren.

Merde then writes: The porno segment, with all possible hardcore references, starts afterwards with the blond girl wearing Ralph Lauren telling the brown haired guy in Kenneth Cole that she has had, especially for him, a laser epilation of her pubic hairs.

Let's mull this over a while, ok? I am too upset and angered to think clearly about this. Does this look like highbrow literature to you? Are you, too, indignant or horrified that this book is going to become a best seller in France?

Words, for this moment at least, cannot describe the feeling in my stomach and heart right now.

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» A small excerpt from Inoperable Terran
Merde in France translated a few bits of the already infamous 9/11 novel. I can only hope it's less disjointed and hackneyed in the original French, because you could enter it as translated into one of those "worst novel" contests... [Read More]

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Il est amusant de constater qu'un livre peu representatif d'un auteur encore moins, suffit à semer un vent de colère (pardon, de haine) parmis la blogosphère états-unienne (et non pas américaine, pauvres canadiens, être assimilés à de telles personnes.... [Read More]

Comments

What the hell is a "laser epitilation"?!?!

That's just high tech hair removal. Instead of repeated waxing/shaving/depilitory, you laze the follicles and then don't worry about it again. The biggest problem with it is that it's prohibitively expensive to do. Another problem is the "beauticians" who do it should, generally speaking, not be using lasers.

Anyway, what the heck is this crap? Do the French really like garbage like this? I mean, really. If you want to make a 1000 page statement about American excess and the culture of the dollar, couldn't it at least be written well?

Whoally shiite.

Just read your post a few before this one and now know the reference for the book. I am very sad to say that I am not at all surprised. This fits in perfectly with my image of France and the petty, spiteful and hateful atmosphere prevalent in that country. France aspires to be a world power but can only achieve haut goût and evil by neglect.

I went to the site of this very small and insignificant person- Lilli Marleen and read what she wrote in response to your earlier post and felt disgust. I eagerly await your thoughts this morning and wish that I could convey my thoughts on her comment about people in the US thinking that we have "have an exclusive right on suffering and bemoaning victims". Makes me ill.

That's just stupid, that excerpt. It's not even coherent. It's like something a twelve year old would write. And that's insulting to twelve year olds.

I can't even wrap my mind around it, how much I already hate this book.

D

I just poured my last bottle of Macon-Villages down the drain. To hell with the French. They just can't get over the fact that they're irrelevant in world affairs.

www.fuckfrance.com

No more French wines for me, either. Whenever I'm in restaurants serving French wines, I write "Boycott French Wines!" on their menus.

I've developed a taste for Riojas, Chilean wines, even a Bulgarian wine. There's plenty more out there...

Folks, remember...

After their almost immediate and non-fighting collapse in the face of the German advance in WWII, the french (no CAPS) then gave the Nazis 76,000 Jews to be exterminated, 11,000 of which were children, as well as wining-and-dining the Nazi military in Paris so as to save their own pathetic hides while 100,000 American soldiers died to liberate them.

I think it is time that this country re-evaluated our "alliance" with france. I think we will find that they are untrustworthy, duplicitous, and quite dangerous in a backstabbing kind-of-way...and always have been.

Therefore, I suggest an aggressive campaign to diminish france's ability to subvert our national defense such as getting them off the Security Council, harsh economic sanctions, and forcing them to surrendering their WMD. If they do not comply, terminate them, with EXTREME prejudice... I doubt Europe would stand in their defense. And how would that be for poetic justice?

Excuse me for going off thread for a moment, but there are many excellent California and Oregon wines. Why not support your own economy? It's not in such great shape right now. Many U.S. winees are reasonably priced, as reasonably as their foreign competitors. If you haven't tried them, I suggest you do.

I love it. A country full of gravediggers working hard to secure their future. But what exactly do you expect from a culture that not long ago removed the heads of the best and left the rest?

I am not a defender of the French but c'mon people....chill. You should not judge whole country based on the works of one writer. It's like condemning the U.S. after reading Ted Rall. Ok, the analagy is strained because this guy is obviously more representative of mainstream French attitudes than Rall is here. But still. Attack the idiot but not his whole country. That's intellectual laziness and it sinks to Beibbeder's level. Remember: as James Lileks wrote, "Lump not, lest ye be lumped"

One last opinion: feel better Michele. This stuff is so awful that there's no reason not to laugh at it. I get that sick feeling only when I see clever, well-crafted anti-Americanism that's harder to Fisk. This is just self-parody.

Hell, even I stopped drinking french wine.

I can find nice Californian, Chilean and Australian little gems, for a much more decent price.

Gotta love that globalization thingy.

P.S. Don't know if MiF told you but Bbbbeigbewhatever is the creep who conceived the French Communist party's promotion for the last presidential elections.
The Commies made hardly 3% [of the 25% of the voters who cared to ballot.]

I'm not saying it's a direct consequence, just that Bbbbeidgheberwhatever probably didn't help.

Which is a good thing actually.

What is the point of denying oneself appreciation of the better aspects of a culture because one is repulsed by the worst aspects of its society?

Do you also deny yourselves the appreciation of French music, architecture, or painting?

Those of you who are pouring your French wines into the gutter because of your political differences with the government of France merely demonstrate your ignorance of wine and French politics. French winemakers are almost by nature among the most philosophically conservative persons in French society. Furthermore, many winemakers are themselves outraged by their government and the impact its foreign and domestic policies have had on their livelihoods.

Beigbeder is merely a provocateur seeking to enrich himself through sensationalism. The USA is not without her own literary poseurs- provocateurs, and they are likewise as short on talent as they are long on venality.

Boycotting French wine and fried potatoes (and subverting conventional English orthography) because one detests Chirac's policies makes as much sense as boycotting Californian wines and Hollywood movies because one loathes Bush.

One person in France write some stupid book, and all of France should go to hell? Let's take Bush's words to heart - "And I caution those who may try to take the speck out of their neighbor's eye when they got a log in their own." There has been far more crap published in this country.

Another Bret Easton Ellis wannabe. As if the original's not bad enough!

Really guys... One, totally stupid, but only one silly comments based on one persons view is enough to cause such vitriol against one nation to another is pathetic. There are a lot worse things going on in the world that really matter, for example America's seeming reluctance to go into Liberia, a country that was set up by Americans. Pour the wine away if you must, but maybe next time dont buy any and make a contribution to the International Red Cross or the Red Cresent and help people who cant even get clean drinking water... It makes me dispair

Spanish wine is better anyway.

Several have suggested that while the book in question is grotesque, it represents little more than one man's twisted viewpoint. This ignores the larger context. The demeaning description of the victims as superficial and debased is a typical French Leftist (and Rightest) characterization of Americans.

France has long been a locus of intellectual anti-americanism. This book is just another example. Arab elites educated in France have imbibed this anti-american sentiment and marxist post-modern deconstructionists have influenced the belief systems of leftist intellectuals in American universities.

French elite fear of American culture and Anglo-Saxon economy permeates both the left and right in France. While I do not doubt that some french are not anti-american, all of the meaningful political expression appears hostile.

I know of no similar American book or movie that would so carelessly demean victims of an atrocity to further a set of political beliefs.

I believe the french to be unique in this.

I love how the author points out that the characters are wearing Ralph Lauren and Kenneth Cole. He probably considers this "character development". It sounds to me like another ignorant Euroweenie who gets their lessons on culture from sit-coms and is under the ill-informed impression that all Americans are rich fat cats running around in designer clothing.

It's not that one stupid person in France wrote a book.

It's that several million stupid people in France bought a copy.

I don't think it makes much sense to boycott French products. First, that would punish American resellers who sell them. Secondly, as someone said here, there is no reason to trash France in general. Some French are anti-American bigot like Beigbeder, some are pro-American or have an overall good opinion of the US - like me -, most of them see America as a foreign country, generally friendly but a bit frightening.
I think they are wrong, but you must remember how powerful your country is. If you crossed a guy three times your height in a desert street by night, you'd probably not feel very well, even if the guy was cool.
I think that this is a common feeling. Invading Irak was an excellent thing, but I think you'd better keep cool when small countries become a bit paranoid.

Jean, I agree that normally it makes little sense to boycott France - but this year boycotting french wine and tourism is the only way I can think of to express my revulsion for the way that Chirac and de Villepin treated France's ally, the US.

I am going out of my way to avoid things french because of the lousy way the US has been treated and depicted in France over the past year or two.

In my opinion Frédéric Beigbeder is just a sick symptom of a much larger problem. And yet I see little but injured innocence in response (as yet). If french people wish to repair their diplomatic and economic relations with their largest ally, I think a little more searching self-analysis would be an excellent place to start.

If not, I suggest developing new markets (and allies) might be the obvious next move.

Don, if I wasn't French, I would probably avoid any contact with France too! Since I live here, it's easier for me to observe the difference between the silent majority and the vocal minority which Beigbeder is part of.
I also have a personnal interest in things getting better here. I've been trying for years to argue in favor of American policies, which I generally approve. But I've noticed that the recent and very understandable American reaction has made it much more difficult. It is really pushing France the wrong way, and I find it worrying.
Besides, it has often been excessive. That France is somehow becoming antisemitic is arguable, to take an example, but France has been described as a historically worthless country (militarily worthless, ex-colonial oppressor, etc.) and the French have been called funny names, to say the least. I believe I have detected some old prejudices (French don't wash, etc.) which didn't have much to do here. It reminded me of the Australian anti-French campaign of 1995 (we were too militaristic at the time, so they said). I don't think that was necessary.
Criticism ('old Europe' and such) is useful, but the 'surrender monkeys' thing wasn't (even though it is too kind for people like Beigbeder).

Jean, I see I parting of the ways between France and the US, and this worries me as well. I am a francophile (although an aliented francophile this year), and the mutual misunderstanding disturbs me.

Back when I argued rather than boycotted I asked the french and germans for understanding, not sympathy. The answer (for now) seems to be Non.

The US has a right to choose Bush as it's leader as little as the french and Germans like or agree with the choice. Conversely The French have the right to select a Chirac regardless of how disasterous such a choice seems on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean.

Chirac has deliberately put himself in the leadership of some maneuvers and has therefore become a symbol of a rather nasty strain of European diplomacy.

France has therefore become a symbol of such actions as voting the US off of major UN Human Rights commissions (& it's replacement by Sudan and Syria).

Other treaties (such as the ICC and Kyoto treaties) are seen as heavily tilted against the US. France has become a symbol of this kind of thing and I think the boycott is a recognition of this situation.

This may not be entirely just, as other countires also played a part. But France has been seen as the leader and is now seeing American anger for actions dating back into the mid 90's.

It may be that time will be the only remedy. When Chirac retires (assuming he is not succeeded by de Villipen), I think a new start will be possible. Presumably Bush's successor will benefit from a more objective view from europeans.....

Don, I will not argue with what you say: it is all true.
I only hope that things will not get too far, I don't think there is any good reason for it.

"Besides, it has often been excessive. That France is somehow becoming antisemitic is arguable, to take an example, but France has been described as a historically worthless country (militarily worthless, ex-colonial oppressor, etc.) and the French have been called funny names, to say the least. "

Some of this I find tasteless if a little amusing (cheese-eating surrender-monkey). I come from a state famous for it's cheese and view France's variety of cheeses as a positive moral virtue! As for the surrender-monkey part, I have a single-word answer: Verdun. An act of suicidal sublimity and perhaps stupidity. But surrender it was not.

France has been the opposite of historically worthless. The French Revolution did at least as much to overturn the Ancien Regimes of the world as the American Revolution did, because while our revolution preceded yours, yours was so much more visible across Europe!

Then there was l'affaire Dreyfus. If one loves freedom and justice, one cannot help but adore Emile Zola. Not to mention figures such as Victor Hugo.

France is a great country, but in recent years your leaders have been too small.

I see too much crap here. I'm French, I'm not proud of it as I didn't choose, but seeing that for you I'm stupid because another French guy wrote something stupid...

It's all soooo true. I am so stupid. But I'm glad that stupidity has no frontier. ;)

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