Frenchness?

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 :

  1. 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”).
  2. 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.
  3. I always heard about the French elegance about cars design. Ferrari is Italian and can not be French. Google “French elegance classic car design”.
  4. And tell me about La Parisienne, the French women who have “this” irritating fashion gift to be casually elegant with anything, pffff.
  5. Cuisine?

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!

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http://www.academie-francaise.fr/la-pensee-et-lart-francais

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