Sunday, March 18, 2012


Eleven Things – Imaginary, Real, Serious, Not-So-Much-So, and Outright Stupid – Hopper Likes About France, the French, and its/their Accomplishments:

(1) Sartre’s The Wall

Wrote about it numerous times on this blog. Read it, I think, in the summer of 1989 alone at my parent’s weekend home in upstate New York. A strange, terrible read, unlike anything I had ever read before. Possibly the first time I accepted the concept of my own mortality.

(2) Sartre’s death-bed conversion to Catholicism

Urban legend or squashed by a paranoid secular media, the choice the old atheist existentialist made in the ultimate foxhole we all will find ourselves in, well, says more than thousands of pages of thick French prose.

(3) Godzilla spawned by French A-bomb testing

Most interesting thing of the late-90s Godzilla remake, and, oddly enough, the only real fact I recall from the flick. (Other than that the baby Godzillas ripped off Spielbergh’s velociraptors.)

(4) Jules Verne

Would love – absolutely love! – to read more of him, but fearful of translations and translators. One novel, From the Earth to the Moon, was laugh-out-loud delightful, while another, Journey to the Center of the Earth, was grim and heartless. From the same author? Yes. But different translators/translations. Maybe I’ll research it and read more; I really would enjoy getting lost in Verne’s steampunk world.

(5) Kirk Douglas as a French Colonel (!) marching through the trenches in Stanley Kubrick’s Paths of Glory.

Gave me goose-bumps and a vision right up there with Harry Lime’s first reveal in The Third Man. Occasionally on TCM. Worth a watch if you’re a cinephile.

(6) Bizet, Ravel, Debussey, Jarre, Saint-Saens, Satie.

Individual pieces way too numerous to mention … perhaps another post I’ll attempt to.

(7) The French Foreign Legion

I actually read two books on the Legion, one while I sweated it out on an exercise bike over the course of a month (I found solace in my mutual suffering with the legionnaires). Tough as nails, no mercy, no coddling, not a single nod toward political correctness. I couldn’t survive a day in the Legion, though there’s a surprisingly significant part of me that would like to have tried (in my youth, of course, when I actually could run and endure).

(8) The challenge of learning the French language (enough, at least, to survive a week in the tourist section of Paris)

Ouiun mille ouis.

(9) The French Revolution

There was a three-month morbid obsession for me with the French Revolution sometime around 1994. Had something to do with a unique history professor I had at the night school college I attended at this time. He would ramble disjointedly from this subject to that, from that topic to another, but somehow by the session’s end, he was able to bring it back full-circle and complete his thoughts from forty-five minutes prior. Looking like Norm from Cheers with a perm, he was disheveled and unkempt, but he had a way, for me at least, of making history come alive.

Over those three months I must’ve read four or five books on the Revolution, including one biography of the monster Robespierre. Forgot much, but the vibe I recall is that it was quite like the Stephen King books I was reading at the time. Imagine living in such a paranoid death trap of a time … shudder.

(10) “If you are to act, act now!” – the coup d’etat of Napoleon Bonaparte

Then I started reading about Napoleon. Perhaps it was the two thick biographies I read, but I don’t see him as the anti-christ others do. Yes, I think he went too far, but I also think he was a good thing for Europe. From sheer chutzpah alone, the hour that he assumed control of all France, at the tender age of 26, simply hypnotized and amazed me, reading all this at the same age he was.

(11) My evil spiritual brother lives there

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