Remoteness and distance have nothing to do with being away. I am at the same time far off and close by. As an expat I have withdrawn myself from what I dislike most in my native country.
On a physical plane it is dirt. France is a filthy country. Rather than dirt, I should rather speak of this unkempt quality that singles out a vast majority of those slumbering little villages all over the country and that you might also unfortunately find in the French speaking part of Belgium.
Latin carelessness? No, probably something to do with the Provencal culture which affects both sides of the Alps – the transalpine as well as the cisalpine sisters (“le sorelle latrine” as the Italians neatly put it) – in comparison Spain is miraculously spotless.
On a less down to Earth level there is the self-inflated, bloated and unescapable figure of the “intellectuel” whose approximate omniscience often pitifully hides the dreary tokens of his/her ignorance (see Onfray or Regis Debray).
The French are arrogant, but the irony is that the so boastfully asserted claim for superiority is plainly found to be thoroughly wanting when it comes to assess the achievements of the French mind.
Take literature for example – let alone philosophy! – the “culture française”, as it pompously labels itself, is no better than the English speaking one, the German or the Italian. As for poetry the French language, an improbable mixture of Vulgar Latin with Celtic/Gaulish intonation (the unmistakable stress on the last syllable) is probably the most amusical language within the Indo-European family.
I’m off then to the lotharigian Flanders exchanging the oddly chosen and slightly ridiculous gallus of the Celts (“de Valsen”, as they say here) for the heraldic lion of the Flemish.
Gallia erit in orbe ultima.
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