When you’re French, you always hear about one quality which could be the core of Frenchness (of Frenchiness, who knows…) : “La mesure”, measure, which is weaved with moderation, elegance, analysis and a certain casualness.
Of course it’s always compared to Italy (more sun), Belgium (freer/crazier) or Germany (order, discipline) or America (power, efficiency)
It’s just in the cultural air, I never heard about this :
- In music, it’s Debussy : it never cuts or scream like Prokofiev, it’s not German (Wagner, Brückner). It’s Boulez, the orchestra director, who is the contrary of Bernstein : analysis and precision… creates beauty (certainly not “trance”).
- In poetry it’s Baudelaire, like a tamed complex clever romantic – there’s a critic in the poet’s head, controlling and judging the… rushes.
- I always heard about the French elegance about cars design. Ferrari is Italian and can not be French. Google “French elegance classic car design”.
- And tell me about La Parisienne, the French women who have “this” irritating fashion gift to be casually elegant with anything, pffff.
So what? La French touch? I asked around me and I got a few more words : subtlety, freedom, a way to refuse vulgarity (Ferrari not French). And a pinch of arrogance, I know…
Chanel, Stendhal, Ravel, I don’t know… I steal ideas in Valéry, and maybe find that what I’m looking for is maybe paradoxical, maybe a free, casual way to play with both sides of life.
It’s abstract, but it can be fiery (if we want, so there!). It’s drier, lighter (Satie). It’s… contained, but lyrical – but contained (Baudelaire). It’s elegant (but casually). Lines. Tone. Formulas and arrows. It wants quick ways, fast spirits. Maybe a little insolent. Seeking to be ageless, probably. Very personal, and disconcerting like a game. Sending out rules and dogmatism.
Of course I claim to be like that! 🙂
One figure here : Serge Gainsbourg. This composer/singer was casual (and never shaved) and so subtle and romantic. He was a great thief (of genres or classical music themes, from Brahms to Chopin). No dogma : easy listening, reggae, rock, he tried everything. Arrogant, for sure… and so subtle. Heavy, but harmonically very sensitive, etc.
You’ve never finished, with the French!
Traits are interesting. I exactly know what I like in Italy, in the USA, in the British culture (Beatles, Bowie). I smiled each time I am amazed by a musician from Northern Europa, Norway or Sweden. They have something (which is : extreme care of harmonic forms : Loney Dear, Abba, Royksopp).
What about yours, your… countriness?
Thanks for reading!