Tuesday, April 25, 2017

This About Sums It Up


Anonymous said...

Dear Art:
The "epouse sa mere" part of the quote was not written by anyone who appreciates the love of French men for older women.
Has no one other than me perceived the "feminist" angle in Macron's choice?
Brigitte Trogneux puts women 20 years younger to shame.
Give Macron credit for discernment, not an Oedipus complex.

Massilian said...

This is very surprising and "indigne" from your part dear Mr Goldhammer. Old macho bulshit. Why don't you read the excellent piece by Zoe Williams in the Guardian " Ditch the outrage over Macron's marriage age gap... " answering the "fathomless nastiness" of the Daily Mail on this matter.

Anonymous said...

Marrying an older woman is perfectly normal; marrying one's high school teacher is rather odd. Particularly since their relationship began when she was 38 and he was 15. I have the impression that in Britain or the USA she would have been sent to jail! The whole thing is none of our business, of course, and for what it is worth they seem happy. Still, we are not prying if we try to make sense of his personality from publicly known facts & the facts are... odd. He is like a character out of Stendhal. Perhaps the "napoleonic" aspect of his personality that inspired him to seduce his teacher at fifteen inspired him to run for president before he was forty.

Anonymous said...

p.s. none of this is to give credence to malicious internet rumors about Macron, of course. They seem to start from his unconventional personal life and operate from the principle "what is the most horrible thing we could trick people into believing, or finding plausible, about this man, given the information publicly available."

TexExile said...

How far we have come. I can remember the Mitterrand years, when the president's love life was an (admittedly pretty open) secret and it was his edifice complex that excited comment.

TexExile said...

How far we have come. I can remember the Mitterrand years, when the president's love life was an (admittedly pretty open) secret and it was his edifice complex that excited comment.

Lapinot said...

Anon 5:39 AM They met when he was fifteen but they didn't become a couple until later.

'There was no question, ever, of the pupil-teacher relationship exceeding any limits set down by French law, which defines the age of sexual consent as 18 in cases where one person has authority over the other.'


It is, though, odd that some of those (rightly) defending their relationship (which doesn't need defending) would probably be more inclined to do their nut if the sexes were reversed.

Anonymous said...

such a shame from an intelligent blogger to post this ...
what does it actually tell us of the febrile state of france?

Steven Rendall said...

I voted Macron and strongly support him. But the quip witty, and I suspect Art did, too.

Art Goldhammer said...

I think it's no secret that among the available choices I favored Macron. As Steve said, I thought the quip was witty. I have no problem with Macron's marriage. Provoking outrage is one of the occupational hazards of life on the Internet. So rage away.

Nathaniel said...


Let Art have his joke. The poor fellow has been victim of an unconscionable centrist fear-mongering campaign the last few weeks, so he deserves a bit of fun now that his technocratic stasis is assured. (And please allow me, Art, a bit of fun as a disgruntled leftist forced now to support an even more neoliberal Hollande pt. 2).

And by the way, that Zoe Williams article is such trash. Clickbait is clickbait no matter what side it comes from. No one really cares about Macron's marriage, but many have a perverse fascination with it, which is what Williams wanted to profit from. The real issue should be Macron's neoliberal economics, startup ideology, and social dumping rather than fake outrage at the imagined outrage about his personal life. A great example of the lows to which professional opiners sink in the internet age.

Art Goldhammer said...

Ah, Nathaniel, so good to have your condescending support in this battle. For the record, I am going to write an article about how the word "neoliberal" has become a substitute for thought, an all-purpose term of opprobrium to be wielded against the "lieutenants of capital," as we used to be called, a latter-day equivalent of Hegel's "night in which all cows are black." Have a nice day.

TexExile said...

I see that some people take everything seriously.

Lapinot said...

I expect that while I'd agree with the bulk of Zoe Williams article it would still put my back up with its ideological posturing. Though I tend to be of the left, I had to stop reading the Guardian for my own health.

On a lighter note, if Macron resembles a young Frank Sinatra (or perhaps a male member of Blondie) then Brigitte Trogneaux has the good taste to take after the Brian Jones-Anita Pallenberg twins: https://goo.gl/images/9IHBdT

Lapinot said...

The comedy site The Daily Mash (largely left-leaning itself) is quite often amusingly satirical about the Guardian:



brent said...

Seems that with the electoral tension nearly resolved some folks are going to need replacement enzymes for their sense of humor.

And BTW why is no one rising to defend MLP from the more serious charge of patricide, when all she did was usher the deplorable old fool from the stage (albeit 50 years too late) before he could embarrass himself yet again?

Lapinot said...

The new campaign posters aren't great, are they? Macron looks like his head's been photoshopped on to someone else's body, while Le Pen looks both twee and uncomfortable.

Anonymous said...

What' s wrong with the world neoliberal ? It' s pretty clear the M.O in European government is let Crédit Agricole, Deoutsche Bank, and their fellows in Paris and Frankfurt do what they want, they know best. seems textbook to me. I agree the word has lost some meaning through repetition, but Art makes it seem like it's some sort of leftist propoganda.


bernard said...

Funny, just a few days ago I was thinking about an old IHT cartoon where the mad cow was asking her analyst about her madness and he was mildly responding about unresolved issues and how this cartoon might get a second life these days, if not for the pc police, and then this joke and zoe williams.
Art, never make a joke in public, censor yourself, these are not free wheeling years.

Anonymous said...

LOL. But surely MLP is suffering from the Electra complex and penis envy?

Nice joke, Mr Goldhammer and I look forward to your debunking of "neo-liberalism" as the slogan of the neo-Trotsky Mélenchonites. While you are at it, you might want to aim a few darts at "globalism" and "mondialisation", which seems to mean whatever the esprit de clocher dictates to MLP and her acolytes.

Anonymous said...

The word neoliberal is used promiscuously, I grant. Much of the left (and the nationalist right) cannot admit that the great political/economic shift of the 80s and 90s occurred in response to real changes in the world economy. It was not some conspiracy started by the dastardly Mrs. Thatcher (or by Pinochet) & which eventually took over the European left. Thatcher won the confidence of her people because she was responding boldly to changed & rather desperate circumstances; Blair, Clinton, Gonzalez, Schröder et. al were also responding in their own way to the same general change of circumstances. So were Rocard and Juppé and so is Macron. Old fashioned leftists like myself are probably too willing to lump together the center-left and the center-right responses to the "globalized economy," although the case must be tried reform by reform, country by country. Art Goldhammer is also certainly correct that the programme commun was already out of date in the 1970s. Efforts to implement something similar to it in South America have been disastrous. I only hope that Trump does not push my beloved Mexico to elect López Obrador and start down the same dreary road that Venezuela has traveled to its bitter end.

However centrist technocrats have not done much better by Europe than have sentimental leftists. Resistance to British and German style reforms hardly seems to have ruined France. For me to trust the reformers I would have to believe that they admitted - even only to themselves! even behind closed doors! - what an historic catastrophe the adoption of the Euro has been. Otherwise I accuse them of being as blind as us: their laudable commitment to the laudable principle of European unity is as culpable as our nostalgia for the strong labor unions and shared prosperity of the middle of the last century.

Anonymous said...

Back to Brigitte, in the U.S. no one would raise an eyebrow if Macron was 64 and Brigitte 39 --and it is an object of fascination, nevertheless.

Alexandra Marshall said...

Lapinot, the problem is things aren't equal, and it actually isn't the same thing when it's a younger man and older woman as opposed to vice versa. The context of 3000 years of patriarchy matters to the (non) equation. BTW to your other comment on the posters, photoshoppers have gone to TOWN on MLP, who magically lost four dress sizes.

Here is an non-equal-equal I'll totally grant you: I'd be furious if a man made the point I just did. It's petty, I'm not proud. Feminists have our own problems with internalized sexism, myself included. BUT COME ON LOOK AT THAT PICTURE.

Nathaniel said...

@Art (and others)

Whenever I use the word "neoliberal" it's just a way of avoiding the confusion in the American context where it means "left-leaning/progressive." This is perhaps a bad habit that came about from being confused for a Republican when criticizing "liberals" in the USA. For me, "neoliberal" means "liberal (in the economic sense)"--and I'm not sure where the lack of clarity is there: deregulation, privatization, pro-finance, undercutting unions and limiting workers' rights, supply-side economics, and austerity. Where is the lack of clarity? Is economic liberalism not a coherent concept?

(By the way: I'm a regular reader of your blog and have great respect for your views, even if I don't always agree with them. Didn't mean my barb to be condescending...)

Nathaniel said...

(Sorry, I meant: avoiding confusion in the American context where "liberal" means "left-leaning/progressive")

Lapinot said...


By that standard, though, a female teacher (or German chancellor) could surely never hold the same authority as her male counterparts. And should we judge them differently if they were both male or both female – and what would that mean for other single-sex relationships?

And if someone says ‘no-one would care if the ages were reversed’ one might reasonably reply ‘but they aren’t.’ (This isn’t what I think, of course.)

What if a man and a woman lose their jobs? Should we feel sorrier for the man since work might traditionally have played a larger part in his self-image? Or for the woman because it might not have in hers?

I don’t think humans and their relationships can be judged fairly by category like that, each person being a vast, vague mixture of thoughts, emotions, perceptions etc. And history iself is made up of (and made up by) those individuals, with each moment laying another reason for uncertainty.

Categories can be useful to some extent for explaining the world as it is but (I think) no more than that, and even then there’ll always be many more categories than those we hold important. I think, anyway.

Steven Rendall said...

@Anonymous: you might have said 71 and 46--like DJT and Melania.

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Rendall:
Thank you for making my point for me. This is not a serious subject, and the times are serious, but as the Spanish say, "Es major reir que llorar." For an intermission from our present troubles, I quote Benjamin Franklin, who, having worked in Paris gained in understanding about the December-May woman-man pairing:

Benjamin Franklin

“In all your Amours you should prefer old Women to young ones. You call this a Paradox, and demand my Reasons. They are these:

1. Because as they have more Knowledge of the World and their Minds are better stor’d with Observations, their Conversation is more improving and more lastingly agreable.

2. Because when Women cease to be handsome, they study to be good. To maintain their Influence over Men, they supply the Diminution of Beauty by an Augmentation of Utility. They learn to do a 1000 Services small and great, and are the most tender and useful of all Friends when you are sick. Thus they continue amiable. And hence there is hardly such a thing to be found as an old Woman who is not a good Woman.

3. Because there is no hazard of Children, which irregularly produc’d may be attended with much Inconvenience.

4. Because thro’ more Experience, they are more prudent and discreet in conducting an Intrigue to prevent Suspicion. The Commerce with them is therefore safer with regard to your Reputation. And with regard to theirs, if the Affair should happen to be known, considerate People might be rather inclin’d to excuse an old Woman who would kindly take care of a young Man, form his Manners by her good Counsels, and prevent his ruining his Health and Fortune among mercenary Prostitutes.

5. Because in every Animal that walks upright, the Deficiency of the Fluids that fill the Muscles appears first in the highest Part: The Face first grows lank and wrinkled; then the Neck; then the Breast and Arms; the lower Parts continuing to the last as plump as ever: So that covering all above with a Basket, and regarding only what is below the Girdle, it is impossible of two Women to know an old from a young one. And as in the dark all Cats are grey, the Pleasure of corporal Enjoyment with an old Woman is at least equal, and frequently superior, every Knack being by Practice capable of Improvement.

6. Because the Sin is less. The debauching a Virgin may be her Ruin, and make her for Life unhappy.

7. Because the Compunction is less. The having made a young Girl miserable may give you frequent bitter Reflections; none of which can attend the making an old Woman happy.

8thly and Lastly They are so grateful!!”

Anonymous said...

Do you mean the second round poster ?

Anonymous said...

I agree with Art & with a previous writer who mentioned Stendhal (I thought of Mme de Warens): the story of Macron's marriage seems somehow very French and rather amusing. It sheds some not unflattering light on Macron's character.

I seem to recall that Newt Gingrich also married his secondary school teacher, but firstly, Gingrich left her because she got fat, and then left his second wife because she got sick with cancer. Secondly, Gingrich has spent a good part of his political career giving moral lessons to his political opponents & "blue America": I have no scruples about judging the old toad for his toadishness and hypocrisy.

As for MLP - I can't separate her decision to "show some leg" in her poster from her position on muslim dress. That bugs me. Otherwise, she is not a bad looking woman & I see no reason to complain that her poster is photoshopped: photoshop is ubiquitous in these contexts but you hear much more about it being used on women than men. There are a million points on which I'd feel more comfortable criticizing her.

Anonymous said...

Both posters look weird and very photoshopped. Aujourd'hui en France (I think) had a nice article explaining it was very professional and they didn't see the same problem as the "lay" person, ie;, it looked like both heads had been photoshoped onto the shoulders.

Yesterday's key confrontation:

^he's got no answer and pretty much admits he's powerless. I know, he says PSE, ARI, will take a long time: cold comfort for people who are about to lose everything and sink from working class to poor, with little hope of getting out. The one solution, retraining, sounds cruel when you "never were into schooling" (when you were a class clown or one of those actively making "nerds" lives miserable or simply unable to keep up), especially since French continuing education is a joke. Another point is that in these areas, jobs go, and you retrain and retrain but never get back to where you were, so it's retraining to while away your time, retraining means considerable effort yet leads nowhere and all people know that from family or personal experience.
(Not my position, but what I see and hear often).
So, a catastrophe was averted, but I'm not sure the aftereffects will be good. When people are desperate, they're all too willing to believe any sort of hope, even if they know it's likely an illusion.

Mélenchon has his consultation up, with three choices: abstain/vote Macron/vote a blank ballot. "vote MLP" is not a choice in the consultation but apparently a whole bunch of people in the France Insoumise are seeing "néolibéralisme" as worse than "nationalism". So, the Philippot line has won for some people - "who cares about people-not-like-us, at least *we* save our skin". And when you see the above discussion, you understand the allure - based on it, you see two bad choices: Fake solutions & racism on the one hand, despair and bleak futures on the other, which would you pick?

Macron better create some kind of hope and offer a practical, immediate solution (beside "fiber connection and no white zones by 2022" or "retraining"). Or his advance may well melt away.

Anonymous said...

Further discussion...

I think this raises the points @Mitch made earlier.

To me there's no comparison between either JLM/MLP, or between EM/MLP, but since friends' colleagues in factories moved from MLP to JLM in the first round as the only one 1° expressing their anger at being left behind and 2° perhaps being able to help while 3° not being racist, the move back due to 1+2 is still quite possible. They won't want to vote for MLP if an alternative is offered that suggests hope for manufacturing, small towns, etc, but tey won't vote against their interest (ie., someone who only promises them poverty, unemployment, and retraining for jobs that don't exist).

Note that the "grandes régions" reform also hurt smaller towns, since the former, smaller "regional capitals" were better spread out all over the regions and had surrounding small towns benefiting from their presence; concentrating everything in a big "métropole régional" hurt all kinds of towns that are no longer within its recruitment area, made housing costs rise in these areas and decrease in the abandoned areas (making it almost impossible to move as the new rent would eat away your salary - or if you own a house, losing a lot on it when you sell, if you're done paying your mortgage or aren't in debt above the ceiling that even allows you to take a mortgage).

Anonymous said...

If you subscribe to @si, you can read this article about "the battle of images at Amiens":

(If you aren't a subscriber, it's €1 for the first month, €4 afterwards, and well worth it. And there's a special rate if you're a student or low income/unemployed. Journalists devoted to image analysis, in particular TV news.)

Free today even to non-subscribers:

Anonymous said...

Coming late to this discussion, but it calls to mind this song from the excellent US film "Election" :