Un conte de Noel
The wretched tiresomeness of the anglos

There are numerous films with this title, both French and English.

Invariably, the English movies are about the same things as the French ones: betrayal, disloyalty, sexual dalliance, parents’ failure to love their children (and the reverse), failure to live up to standards of friendship; and so forth. In short: moral failure all along the line; which is to say, well, life.

But – and this is my point here -- also invariably, the English language films are dark, sick, depressing – Scandinavian – while the French films – though they can be profound – manage to be lighthearted and – well, generally quite funny.

(Profundity, it turns out, contra my anglo friends, has no need of moral reproach).

The anglo productions are invariably steeped in the five thousand year old sauce of divine moralization: even the famous sexual revolution has not cured the anglos of their leviticus moralizing zeal: the rules remain, they have merely been tweaked (“dally all you want before you’re married, but once you marry, well, then have eyes only for daddy” – how does one who has dallied all her life do that?); while the French – well, the French seem to make do – with all the heartache it entails but without the divine retribution and without the moral disgust.

Here is to the French. (Herdade grande, red, 2006; and well before noon, too; but, hey, it's afternoon somewhere in the world, no?)


BBC7 is mostly lower-middle-brow. But it sometimes rises above itself to produce something quite good. Last month it was Wharton’s Reef. Good, excellent, wonderful, insightful, wise – well written and well acted, too boot. But, oh, so bloody Anglo-Saxon, so damn – well – sick.

My reaction to this literature is like my reaction to Dostoevsky: instant, deeply felt, uncontrollable revulsion.

(I am a Crime and Punishment tosser, i.e. one of those who have pitched it out the window with disgust… in fact, I suppose, I am a serial-tosser since I repeated the same – Heimlich? -- maneuver with Brothers Karamazov twenty years later. It is a kind of monoethlon: how far anf fast can you pitch your Dosoevsky?)

Yet, surprisingly – or not surprisingly, if you know their literature – the anglos love Dostoevsky.

There is something about the feelings of moral disgust that stimulates the anglos; they appear like that madman who having accidentally stepped into a piece of dog poop in the street, turned round, retraced his steps and, re-locating the poopismo, trod it again; and again; and again.

One assumes – with delight.

(Not my kind of party).


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