Friday, December 11, 2009

Pivot Slices Through the Gordian Knot

Identity crisis? What identity crisis? Just protect le vin beaujolais, symbole de l'identité française! Who says? No less an authority than Bernard Pivot, almost a symbol of French identity unto himself.

7 comments:

satchmo said...

Is it just me, or is this becoming a sort of parody of *Mythologies*? In place of Barthes' demystifying insight and verbal charm, we get the perpetual degoulinade of identitarian angoisse.

Perhaps we should embrace the camp potential of the so-called "debate" and rigged question, and rally around Johnny Halliday, currently in dire shape at Cedars Sinai in LA, as an even more immediately imperiled embodiment of that elusive identity. Unless one prefers a more authentically French nom de guerre such as Eddy Mitchell, that is.

Arthur Goldhammer said...

Johnny, unfortunately, is Belgian and part-time Swiss, so he might run into trouble with the FN. I like the Barthes comparison: there is a sense in which the word "identity" invites a sort of free-flowing play of signifiers, in which every X stands for every Y and simultaneous every not-Y. With such a plastic grammar, one can prove anything.

satchmo said...

Zut, "Hallyday" of course (y not i!).

Part-Belgian by birth and French citizen I thought (admittedly with the recent dicey Swiss episode), but I am far from an expert... Does this make him one of those suspicious immigre types, in the end, and less authentic than Eddy?

Arthur Goldhammer said...

I'm no expert either, but I believe he renounced his French citizenship for tax reasons. My memory is vague, however. Perhaps that was just a threat.

satchmo said...

Now that I look into the matter for a moment, it looks like the media are presenting him a sort of index, "notre Johnny national"....

URL at: http://www.rue89.com/california-dreamin/2009/12/11/johnny-qui-lanonymat-de-notre-rockeur-national-a-la-129516

Arthur Goldhammer said...

Wikipedia: In November 2005, he started a procedure to obtain Belgian citizenship but his request was turned down in 2006 because he failed to fulfill the residency requirements. In late 2006, Hallyday announced that he would move his permanent residency to Gstaad, Switzerland to escape the high tax rate imposed by the French government.

Sure, he's notre rockeur national, along with Sylvia Vartan, Françoise Hardy, etc., but il s'agit là de la nationalité du coeur, pas du droit.

Anonymous said...

On two occasions, I've managed to insult people and embarrass myself beyond repair by making wise-crack jokes in front of persons whom I had thought would laugh with me.

The first time was in Amsterdam when, at a dinner-gala with dyed-in-the-wool "republicans" and leftists, I made a joke about the Dutch royal family...Dreadful silence ensued. I turned into a shrink-y-dink and hid under my chair for the rest of the evening.

The other occasion was at a friend's wedding - again the crowd made up of French world-weary hipsters; ie, José Bové, Louise Attaque-loving thirtysomethings. At the table, I blurted out a funny joke about Johnny Hallyday. I got a year's worth of all the anti-American drivel one can think of in the span of an hour and all because of that joke on Johnny. Maybe it was the wine, but for the life of me, I just don't know what nerve I touched in them. Mystery.
I mean, after all, if he isn't the very epitome of "ringard", than what is ringard?



Chris P.