Friday, January 22, 2010

Time to Get Out of the Limo

Not long ago Sarko made the gaffe of hoping that there would one day be a TGV to Strasbourg, when there already is. Now Chantal Jouanno, secretary of state for ecology, looks forward to the day when Line 14 of the Métro will be automated, although it has been since 1998. Back to the future. Time to get out of that limo, Mme. la secrétaire d'État.

Aux Grands Hommes, la Patrie Reconnaissante

I guess you're not really president of France until you've made an official Grand Homme of somebody. Rebuffed on the Camus front, Sarko now seems bound and determined to Pantheonize another artist, Claude Monet. It's not as though Monet lacks for gloire. Generations of tourists have dutifully trooped before the Water Lilies at the Orangerie and continue to flock to the Orsay. When in Paris, I myself frequently make the pilgrimage to the Marmottan, one of my favorite small museums. Still, I can't escape the feeling that there's something inherently ludicrous about the gesture. Monet was pre-eminently the painter of light, and to take him from his garden at Giverny to shut him up in the chill darkness of the Panthéon seems almost cruel. And for what? So that the President can present himself as a patron of the arts? And I can already hear the words of the speech Guaino will write for the occasion. Les arts plastiques neglected by the Panthéon! Quelle honte! For the French are a race of artists, un peuple de peintres, une nation de Nabis, une ribambelle d'Impressionistes, une déclinaison de David à Delacroix, une vision de Vigée-Le Brun ...

And where was the French government when it came to saving the house and gardens at Giverny? The money had to be scrounged in America, from the Readers' Digest heiress, of all people. Quelle mascarade! as de Gaulle would have said. (h/t Kirk)

P.S. Yes, I know that Chirac initiated the move, but Sarko will capitalize on it in his own inimitable way.