Thursday, September 06, 2012


Now that the presidential election campaign in the U.S. is in full swing we the public are exposed to the full range of political rhetoric. Both Romney and Obama are challenged to craft their stump speeches to reach the average man, Peoria in middle America if you will. They have to wordsmith everything so they do not appear exceptional, rather that they as individuals identify with the trials and tribulations of the hard working citizen. Really it is a conjuring act. This dumb it down strategy would suggest they are vexed to be taken for what they really are. Thus it is too in a novel in French I happen to be reading, "Un certain Monsieur Blot" by Pierre Daninos. It is a scathing assessment of the hierarchical French class society of the 1960s. A bourgeois actuary in an insurance company leading an anonymous married life enters a competition to find France’s No. 1 Average Joe. And he wins! Through exploration of his daily life and relationships at work and at home the novelist recounts the way members of society do not wish to be labelled by their most essential characteristic i.e. capitalists wish not to be seen as capitalists, peasants as peasants, housewives as housewives etc. This humorous treatment is at one and the same time a serious commentary.