Thursday, April 23, 2009

Sic Transit Gloria Mundi

It's been an interesting week, spent mostly at two colloquia in Montreal, where I met and exchanged ideas about politics and the crisis with colleagues from Canada, France, Senegal, and Belgium. I also met dignitaries: three former prime ministers (one of France, Jospin, and two of Quebec, Parizeau and Bouchard) and the current, and remarkably young and well-spoken, French ambassador to Canada, François Delattre. It is always somewhat sobering to confront in the flesh the people about whom it is so easy to be critical, flippant, or ironic in a blog. They turn out, at least in this case, to be thoughtful, intelligent, often clever, very well-informed, and remarkably captivating.

But now that I'm back at my keyboard and in the privacy and anonymity of my boudoir, I will have to balance my sympathies against my blogospheric duty to thrust unwanted truth upon unseen power.

I also had a moment to reflect on the fleeting nature of power and glory. True, Jospin did fill an auditorium with 500 people in a foreign country 7 years after leaving office. But the next morning I found myself sitting alone with him in a student cafeteria at the UMontreal business school, and students came and went without noticing that a former prime minister was among them. And when we were joined by Jacques Parizeau, a former prime minister of the very province in which we were sitting, he attracted no more notice.


Leo said...

This is surprising! Didn't any student ask who this white haired gentleman seating next to Art Goldhammer was?

David in Setouchi said...

I don't know how it's like in Montréal but in Paris we run into famous and/or important people all the time, so not reacting doesn't necessarily mean not recognizing.

No later than two weeks ago, Jack Lang was having a walk with his wife a block away from my apartment.

Anonymous said...

Come to think of it, were to look for Mr.Goldhammer somewhere, I'd probably be thinking of a bald gentleman mostly greyish-blackish with green spots and bird droppings on his forehead.

Chris P.

Anonymous said...

with a polished brass toe?

Anonymous said...

That's him! That's the one!
lol ;-)

Chris P.