Last week, the 14th of July, it was France’s national day. A sad day if you were listening to the dominant media. More like the birthday of a middle-aged woman who refuses to say her age than the celebration of the Nation. The Nation is, they say, depressed. How can that happen? How does a Nation have feelings? I don’t know but apparently it does, like you and me. This Nation, they explain, is depressed because in all fields that count, its performances are ridiculously low. The French artist have lost their imagination, the politicians lie more than ever, our industry is not productive, our workers don’t want to work, our philosophers are all dead (recently, the last one, P. Ricoeur), even the National football team is having a hard time qualifying for the world cup in Germany and to top it off, London rather than Paris, was awarded the Olympic games. It isn’t all, the People, the very earth of the Nation, are depressed too… depressed and depressing! Or so they say. Politically they are drawn on one side by utopic Trotskyists and on the other by far right fascists. They look to the past rather than the future, thus refusing the Eur Constitution. But most of all they are responsible for the dramatic results of the economy. Like all the European People, they don’t consume enough. Bad citizens, bad consumers who won’t buy, buy and buy more: a new car, the latest close, and the indispensable goods that fill our beautiful supermarkets (the national pride, those supermarkets that colonise the world).
Even if you’re joyful and not depressed at all on a splendid summer morning, once you’re done reading the papers you want to go back to bed and sleep it off.
The 14th July comes around in that pathetic context. But I don’t care, I know that this “Nation” they’re talking about doesn’t really exist and I’m glad people don’t consume so much crap. Plus, it’s the Tour de France, I’ve got the day off and I’ll get to watch those heroes climb beautiful mountains. However even on the Tour de France, that Nation (I’m beginning to think that maybe it does exist…) is depressed. The commentators are telling us so. Because, on top of all the rest, not one single Frenchman has been able to secure a stage win. During the whole afternoon they are almost praying for that to change on national day. So when David Moncoutié, leaves his companions behind and seems about to make their dream come true, they lose their grip. We hear roosters, see national flags and are told how the National Pride will be restored, they almost sang La Marseillaise. You’d think the Nation itself was pedalling to victory.
I wasn’t depressed at the beginning of the day but now I am. If it wasn’t bad enough being forced to believe that the Nation exists and finding out that it has feelings, I’m afraid above all to learn, the next day, in the papers, how that lunatic individual’s mood can change just because David Moncoutié beat Armonstrong.