Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Blogger's Credo: The Quotidian Horizon vs. Sub Specie Aeternitatis

Occasionally, one ought to pause to reflect on what one does in this vale of tears. An anonymous commenter has given me an opportunity to review once again the "Why I blog" question. The commenter had this to say about my post "Mars and Venus":


Maybe... but articles like that are going to appear pretty much whatever happens. People are always throwing up their hands and declaring something is finished when life doesn't go entirely smoothly (suggesting that they've never opened a single history book). Taking a dramatic view is pleasurable, whether the drama is in dismissing the capabilities of your allies, or of your own country, or questioning the motives and strategies of politicians from the position of omniscience which most journalists, and those who add comments to journalists' writings, seem to inhabit.
To which I responded (with mild embellishments):
Do I detect an ever so slightly critical edge in that comment? Ars longa, vita breva est, etc. The problem with the long view is that so much of life passes by while one is taking it. I got into blogging in order to shed the marmoreal serenity of the historian, who really does inhabit the world of passionless omniscience you so reasonably deplore but wrongly attribute to journalists, pundits, and the soldatesque of bloggers who follow in their wake. Being wrong daily tends, I find, to induce a little humility and bring one back to the limited horizon of the quotidian where politicians and other ordinary mortals move. To dramatize is human, and even those realists whom you seem to admire, the politicians, indulge in it from time to time. To go to war to prevent a "bloodbath," for example, is to employ a very dramatic trope. So is remaining silent about bloodbaths nearby that one prefers to avoid preventing (a drama now playing in Syria).

Backtracking on Hadopi

One after another, the signature reforms of the Sarkozy presidency are being modified or scrapped. "I will never retreat on the tax shield," Sarko said, before retreating. And now the ever-unpopular Hadopi law on Internet downloads is up for revision. Young people vote, after all, and there is an election coming up. It's perhaps refreshing to see the former hyperpresident, who vowed to vanquish "tous les conservatismes," returning things to the status quo ante, like a camper attempting to leave the campsite as he found it. We have come a long way since la rupture of May 2007.

Talk by Herrick Chapman

Readers in the Boston area may want to know about a talk by Prof. Herrick Chapman of NYU at Harvard's Center for European Studies, 27 Kirkland St., Cambridge, on Thursday, April 28, 4:15-6:

"Democracy Embattled in the Age of Expertise: The Long French Reconstruction, 1944-1962" 

Aubry-DSK to Meet Friday

The moment of truth? The end of the famous Marrakech pact? Le Monde all but announces DSK's candidacy, without even a fare-thee-well to the notion that he might not run. Do they know something we don't know? Undoubtedly. They always do. Including the skeletons in the prospective candidates' respective closets--the ones that are widely rumored and the ones that aren't. Me? I'm a patient fellow. I can wait until Friday, or June, or September to learn whether Hamlet DSK will actually make up his mind. "Life is an unweeded garden," as the Bard says.

Meanwhile, François Hollande, the spoiler in this fight, has scheduled a major rally for the same day, in which he will unveil his platform for 2012.