National Identities

The NY Times had a wonderful group of three editorials yesterday written by an Englishman, a German and a French woman. They were about President Obama and all, surprisingly, quite positive. The English writer, A.A. Gill, was characteristically snarky about a lot of things including the French, the class system in England, Gordon Brown the Prime Minister, Carla Bruni and English/French history. It was amusing and informative with a few nice jabs ending on a positive note for the American president, which might possibly be a first, or perhaps a first since FDR entered the Second World War.

The German writer, Christoph Peters, uses very long sentences full of polysyllabic words to analyze the current state of European angst. I remember reading Freud’s case histories in college which were fascinating until I got to Freud’s analysis. Then I would fall asleep. Similarly, the few German philosophers that I tried, Goethe in particular, had a similar affect on me. I would still like to understand him better, but alas…,

The French writer, Amelie Nothomb, finishes with a wonderful little billet doux to Obama. Her understanding is that envy, a great French motive for just about anything, should be eating at the French President Sarkozy. And the reason for this, she asserts, is Obama’s dignity, a French raison d’etre if ever there was one. I knew I loved the French. I admit to loving the English and the Germans as well and I only wish an Italian editorialist had been enlisted. I might have learned something about style.

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