Before I say anything else, I must encourage everyone to visit my sister blog by the amazing Panda Bear, M.D. As the current debate over Obama's healthcare plans rages, which I address a little below, every American should get a view of medicine from the inside by someone who's a straight-shooter, and people, my Panda's Da Man.
I don't know if anyone is reading the recent comments but, from what I see, it's all Paris, Paris, Paris. Kids, one more time: Paris ain't the country of France! It's just another big city, like going to Chicago or something. I've been talking about my experience of an entire country and culture - I've also stayed in Pau, in the Pyrenees, Mr. "Anonymous" - which was seen not just for a short period of time - and, don't forget, seen as a black man. (Anybody else here been chased from an ATM in France? Anybody? Anybody else been attacked by Nazis in France? Anybody? I have had both of those things happen to me, merely for the color of my skin. Blackness may not count for much but it's definitely a unique perspective.) And this black man really wanted to get to know France: Any fool can go to Paris (think about that statement) but what you'll learn of the french will be extremely superficial; a mere shadow of the place and it's people.
If you really want to understand frogs, I always tell Americans a good place to start - to start - is Claude Berri's 1986 films, Jean de Florette and it's companion, Manon of the Spring - at the time, the most expensive film project in French history and a document that screams "This is who we are!". Despite being two long halves of a single short period drama, in these movies you will see some - some - of what I noticed in my travels: the ruthless cruelty to outsiders - especially if they can be labeled "different" in any way. The jealousy, hypocrisy, plotting, conniving, and betrayals. The extreme dependence on superstition as a way to make decisions (Listen: France is most definitely NOT an enlightened, atheistic, or secular country, as so many media reports would have Americans believe: it IS a profoundly pagan and/or NewAge place, though - and, just like in America, today - that's not a subject most people want to seriously address, no matter what kinds of problems that silliness causes in what we're told/sold as this "educated" and "modern" era). In Jean and Manon, you will see the sheer twisting of reality, in the french mind, to fit their view of things - and (this isn't addressed in the films but should be mentioned:) how their non-specific, clumsy, ancient, backwards language ("The house, red" instead of "the red house") keeps them stuck, logically, repeating the same intellectual mistakes ad nauseam.
And finally, there's the reliance on lying.
The french people's profound sense of pride - totally undeserved at this stage of history and, to some extent, based on their (still on-going) cruelty to other (darker skinned) people during colonialism - is a serious hurdle to telling the truth to (and about) themselves. I won't be the first commenter to say France, and much of Europe really, is all about image, and if shining that apple keeps others from knowing there's worms inside, then, dammit, those fools will get to shining! Anything - anything, dammit! - is better than confronting hard truths head-on in public. Sadly, I see Americans increasingly adopting this attitude itself - especially with the election of Barack Obama - the clearly-unqualified candidate the french wholeheartedly endorsed by 80%.
Anyway, Jean de Florette and Manon of the Spring are a long, slow, beautiful trek through the french psyche - which can be quite evil - but it also reveals a people who, once they can grasp "the truth", will act accordingly. But, Good Lord, it takes them a while. And that capacity for exremely-long bouts of denial - to be, as the NewAgers say, "non-judgemental" - causes a whole lot of innocent people a whole lot of extreme pain. (Considering that, is it any wonder the American Francophiles hardly noticed anything I've described?) Oh, and by the way, despite the image, food hardly plays any role in Jean and Manon at all.
I have to get the subject of NewAge cultism in here (one of the main reasons I do this) so let's talk about, say, Obama's desire to push America toward European style health care: Forget what you saw and heard in Michael Moore's stupid movie (My God, I learned to hate him when I lived in France: Few Americans - even those who dislike him - realize how vile he is once he leaves the States,...) everything that fat fuck says is a lie. See, one of the things that always struck me in France was the number of people with what I thought had mystery ailments: people who looked like they had Down Syndrome, or too many with limbs that just hung there. Kids going bald in spots, who took medicine that didn't help. I just couldn't figure it out, and the french were rarely any help. "This is a modern country?", I thought when I'd see such things in such large numbers.
Some of it I figured out on my own, or got informed on: the "Downs Syndrome" folks? Centuries of inbreeding after locking themselves in walled villages to prevent attack. Arms that don't work? Polio, I was told. And the useless "medicine" for whatever is ailing their children? Say hello, Ladies and Gentlemen, to the water-is-medicine-based NewAge Cult of Homeopathy.
Remember what I said about language, and how one of the results of it's age could be constructing things backwards in the french mind? (Our flag is red, white and blue - theirs is blue, white and red,..) Well, only a people with an extreme case of this problem - 40% of France last I heard - can think the more you dilute something the stronger it's effects. And so their children suffer, literally for nothing. For a simple-minded fucking belief that should've been abandoned a long time ago. And, speaking of dilution, french men are weak as well.
With the wide-spread example of that "medicine", coupled with all their medieval (but still breathing) Alice In Wonderland, pagan/NewAge belief systems (which are now a world-wide phenomena) is it any surprise that France - this country with no black politicians but a backwards language - believes a kinda black, kinda American with no real qualifications (but backed by Oprah Winfrey, the most well-known NewAge adopter on the planet, and others like her) will, somehow, be capable of "healing" the worlds problems by doing nothing - or the wrong thing - if we would only "hope" and "believe" enough? It's all part of a whole, people.
Let's now turn to Oprah, and the spread of NewAge thought, because I want to get to France's far-fetched influence on American lives - and yes (to my regular readers) I will soon get back to NewAge and politics, my favorite subjects, but I've never had this many readers, y'know, so l think I need to ease them in before I do my usual crazy, cussing, Black Lightening thing:
Can anyone explain to this self-educated black guy from South Central, Los Angeles how Oprah Winfrey, that most rich and famous of women (along with many other famous women, like Madonna or, less known, Louise Hay) can spout NewAge quack nonsense as medical advice - for decades - and the geniuses at Newsweek, almost totally alone amongst mainstream media, have just caught on to it? Or why nobody follows up on what they revealed? And why there's no outcry about the decades-long damage she has obviously done by spreading misinformation, and disinformation, on the most popular talk show in the history of daytime TV? Please, I need to know, because after my divorce from a classic NewAger, one who ultimately killed her own mother and two other people by doing what Oprah endorsed, this life - almost every aspect my fucking life - has never been the same, and (this is the only real consequence of NewAge for others so pay attention:) my sense of connection to the rest of humanity has been severely shaken. This crap causes a lot of havoc, and a lot of death, but, from where I sit, nobody sees shit because dead men tell no tales and nobody wants to believe something as flakey and supposedly peace-loving could be that harmful to the general well-being. Shit, talk to enough hippies and you'd think it was the answer to the world's problems.
So please, I'll ask you again, after the Age of Bernie Madoff - where's the credibility in a fellow scumbag like Deepak Chopra? He's on TV constantly, writes columns in newsmagazines, and hangs out/hung out with the likes of Bill and Hillary Clinton and Michael Jackson. Isn't he the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi's "follower" who originally made his name trying to scam the Journal of the American Medical Association? Are we really supposed to think someone who would stoop so low has valuable advice for us on medicine, politics, or anything else? And how did the media miss this dark side to NewAge and NewAgers? Considering what's happening to newspapers, which are desperately in need of readers, why aren't the American people being made aware this liar, and the others like him, have a history as major scam artists? Can't anyone in charge of the major organs of journalism see the potential of expose's on these extremely-well-known charlatans? Seems to me someone's ignoring an obvious story, with a totally new angle on how we see ourselves and the news - and missing a whole shitload of potential revenue and readers.
Doesn't it seem like certain people and subjects that would appear to hold all the reader interest in the world - like the John Edwards affair with that NewAger, Rielle Hunter, or the extreme cultism of power brokers like Arianna Huffington, or the endorsement of quackery by Bill Maher - are held as information that's off-limits, or seen as of no interest, to the rest of us? Kind of like "the truth" trying to find some daylight in France? What's going on here, Folks? These people are in charge! And does anybody else care they're crazy and encouraging more from the rest of us? Is it any wonder everything seems to be going to hell on their watch? I love the news business but, nowadays, after all I've been through with NewAge - including multiple murders - I feel totally betrayed by the media, and you should to:
Like the french, we Americans are now lost in a cultish world of delusion.