Empty Days

Thursday, July 01, 2004



French mind.

I have to confess that I started a french blog, which means I spend less time with this one. It's the first time I get busy with two outlets all at once, and the result is that I can't really split my mind in two - I can't think french & english at the same time, curiously it's not just a matter of language per se but the fact that I don't think the same thoughts in these two languages. Maybe that's because I use this blog here as a diary and the other one just to exercise my french-mind and thus the mood is different there, much less personal in fact. My french-mind is not really very close to me - it's abstract and when I am in it, I feel like I am on the top floor of some high-rise building and I can't really open the windows because I might fall out and break my neck or something.

All in all, I am fairly content that I don't live in France and only in Quebec where I am at liberty not to ever even speak french. The area I live in is mostly english and I rarely deal with actual quebecquers. And when I do, I barely ever remember these encounters, it's too fleeting and formal, basically I make no connection between my french-mind and my locus habitandi - which is absurd in a way but that's just the reality of it.

In fact the only real linguistic connection here is the fact that I can get all the french books I want in libraries and the fact that I get to listen to french on tv and on the radio - in other words, the connection is entirely passive, and maybe that explains the abstract quality of my french-mind.

Besides, I never liked Quebec very much. I clearly hated it when I had to work in a purely local environment, I had the hardest time finding anything in common with the sort of folks I had to deal with, and felt much more at ease (well, relatively speaking) when I finally found a job in an english-speaking company where locals were under-represented and entirely bilingual - it made them less self-centered, to say the least.

For people who want to come to Quebec for various mistaken reasons, I might just add the caution that they won't find a very welcoming place here - in fact, they won't find any place at all unless they stick to their respective communities and let the world around them exist on its own. I can't say Quebecquers are xenophobic - they're not. They're just not worth bothering about, with their private tics and insider jokes dating to Jacques Cartier and Champlain or I don't know what. A local culture is a local culture - when it gets too local it starts to look like a small village lost in the centuries and I am not sure that all small villages are really worth bothering about. I know some people are eager to integrate any society they come to, but in the case of Quebec the price is a bit high - leave all you've got at the door and get on with their little thing. Well, damn it, move to Texas then and pretend you're a cowboy. That's pretty much what it's worth and what it's like. I could care less.





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