11 October 2006

nationalism's blue period.

ah, france. paris, the city of lights.

more pertinently and more currently, the city of "if i hear you speaking english i will assume you cannot speak french and so hear and see me making fun of you."
with the 5 gabillion-million tourists -- mostly anglophone -- who have descended upon the downtown of paris, i hear the same conversation over and over and over again. english speaking tourist clusters are comprised of a couple of people looking at shit and running into folks (their only lines in the conversation are ooh and mmm and je ne sais quoi, a phrase i have never heard uttered by any french folks) and invariably one show-off who is laying out the most superficial and mundane information you could care for: "ah, look there, that is the Sorbonne, the universit-ay. ah, the Seine. ah what beautiful architecture. ah, blabla Culture blabla The French blabla Noder Dame blabla"

SIDENOTE: this is not to say that The French, when touristing, have better conversations. those consist primarily of parents inflicting The History of a place on their children who are ignoring them.

i don't know why i hate tourists so much. i think it's almost certainly rooted in rampant elitism. i begrudge them their superficial bullshit that passes for knowledge/understanding, and their dillettante knee-jerk reaction towards anything that is high art. they point at what everyone points at, they wrap scarfs around their necks in summer because they are in paris, they complain about graffitti that i find beautiful and that is a very real part of paris (one reason why parisians hate the film Amélie is because it is a tourist's Paris, and they digitally did away with all the graffitti and real parts of parisian life). but i also understand that you don't have to and shouldn't have to have a non-superficial understanding of places and things, and that enjoying all that is okay, really.

but right now, english is the mother tongue of downtown paris. and whever i go there with margaux, speaking english, and i buy cigarettes or books or whatnot, *even though i speak french to the shopkeepers*, they will refuse my french debit card, assuming that it is an american credit card. or folks on the metro will talk about us as if we couldn't understand.
it's given me a new outlook on being bilingual. when i hear people speaking other languages, i don't assume they don't speak another as well, but there is this idea that they cant speak in another language and understand the language of the country they are in. this, i warn you all, is false. i can carry on a conversation in english and listen to motherfuckers make fun of me in french.

french, french, french.

soon, in a month or so, this won't be an issue. are you tired of my postings on french culture? have you, more to the point, contracted a dire case of ennui ?

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