Sunday, July 08, 2007

I knew there was a reason I have always wanted to live in France.

Reported in the Washington Post:

France aghast at the 'vulgar' habit enjoyed by its president

On the primary state television channel, France 2, Alain Finkielkraut, a leading French intellectual, recently demanded that Sarkozy give up his "undignified" exercise [running]. Not only did he imply that exposing the boss's naked knees is something that never would have occurred in the time of Mitterrand, much less Louis XIV, Finkielkraut claimed strolling is the proper activity of the thinking person, from Socrates to the poet Arthur Rimbaud.

"Western civilization, in its best sense, was born with the promenade," said Finkielkraut. "Walking is a sensitive, spiritual act. Jogging is management of the body. The jogger says I am in control. It has nothing to do with meditation."

Sarkozy has fueled a French suspicion that running is for self-centered individualists like Americans, reports Charles Bremner, Paris correspondent for the Times of London. "Patrick Mignon, a sports sociologist, noted that French intellectuals had always held sport in contempt, while totalitarian regimes cultivated physical fitness," Bremner writes.


  1. Jesus, sometimes the French really are ridiculous.

  2. A lot of the best writing on running does compare it to meditation, strangely enough. And like meditation, running can help one (me?) reset the internal critic, to see things more clearly. Perhaps this is what the French object to? Although I have to say that running does interfere with my wine drinking and cheese eating.

  3. I think that for runners, running can be meditative--but for non-runners such as moi, moi who has in the past run, it is never meditative. It is body management which easily slips into body hatred. Anyway, I just got a huge kick out of the comment of the intellectual. In France, you know, they have people identified as intellectuals. Intellectuals who do not run, apparently. Adam Gopnik has some hilarious observations about the very different way the French view exercise in Paris to the Moon, a book I love a lot.

  4. Ha ha ha! I love this! Thank God we have the French; only they could say this with a straight face.

    How does one become a capital-I Intellectual anyway?

  5. I realize I'm supposed to strongly disagre with this characterization as a former (sometimes current) runner, but I have to admit I do see some truth in the contrast he sets up. Certainly running has been at times spiritual but more than often, for me, it has been about control.

    Sorry to be all serious when I should be rippin on all those stupid Frenchies. I do wonder what Sarkozy would say about cycling, which also seems about control--I doubt he'd make that critique especially now during the Tour.

  6. In France they jog on Main Street? I think not.



Related Posts with Thumbnails