Today, like many of others spent here was swallowed up by the legal reason for my being in Paris – a record breaking 14 hours of classes and talks, back to back. I’m not going to complain. It is part of the deal.
In between it all, I managed to pick up a few bits of news about the world beyond the walls of my ‘grande école’ on films to watch, great French poetry to use for pedagogical purposes and the big story of the day provided by none other than the most honourable President of the Republic and his interior minister sidekick. More on that later.
Two films came as recommended, although I cannot vouch for the good taste or lack thereof of the recommender. The first, I hear, is an entertaining third installation of a series of movies that has now taken on something of a cult following since its first appearance in the late 90s. The series of films apparently revolves around the lives of a group of jewish businessmen, who, in this installation of the series get acculturated to the ins and outs of doing business of China. It does not come across as the most complex of story lines and that is just perfect for the coming weekend – light entertainment will be much needed then! I also hear that it is interesting to also source and see the first two offerings.
Then, there is ‘Et si on vivait tout ensemble’ with Jane Fonda speaking in excellent French. The film primarily explores aging to my understanding and attempts to provide a perspective on this pertinent issue on what is one of the most rapidly aging continents. However, it must be said, France apparently enjoys a relatively higher population growth rate to the rest of the continent,a nd was the most fertile between 2007 and 2010 before Ireland reclaimed its pride of place as home to the highest birth rate in the EU. France is also expected to continue to grow to be the largest country in Europe by 2050 with about 75 million people.
Hours of lectures aside, one of the more valuable pieces of information that I was introduced to pertained to Jqcques Prévert, who I hear is a quintessential poet. I’m looking forward to exploring his work a bit more.
Political Faux Pas?
It is clearly electoral season and the right leaning government’s key figures including the President are clearly prepared to not hold back their punches. Apparently, last night the minister of interior, Claude Guéant issued a verbal attack clearly aimed at the muslim population of France, referring to how civilisations are unequal. Some being better han others. The broader implication I guess was to say that much of the conservative, religious preferences of muslims are inferior to those of mainstream, secular France. The assumptions are clearly flwed, false and offensive. It is also clear that this is simply an election time ploy to court the flexible right wingers who have served the current government well in the past two elections. Indeed, Nicolas Sarkozy did not condemn Guéant’s statements and appeared to condone them. It has worked in the past. During the last election some Sciences Po based stastisticians suggested that close to 1 million voters who voted Sarkozy would have ordinarily voted further down the right wing spectrum. Yet, the tough talk of the president served him well and won the trust of a crucial constituency. Being rude and demeaning to immigrants may as well work again this time round.