You don't have the right to piss."
"What do I have a right to, then?"
"Nothing: it is forbidden on highways to stop, hang around, dawdle, and piss."
"I didn't know …"
"I don't give a damn what you know—keep moving."
"I'm French …"
"I couldn't care less if you're French—the law's the same for everyone.
"I wrote a book on Daniel Pearl."
"And a book on the forgotten wars."
"What kind of wars?"
"I'm writing about following the path of Tocqueville …"
And suddenly, as the name Tocqueville is uttered, a sort of miracle occurs! The cop's face goes from suspicious to curious to almost friendly.
"Tocqueville—really? Alexis de Tocqueville?"
And after I tell him yes, Alexis, I'm following in the footsteps of this great compatriot who, 170 years ago, must have passed somewhere near here, this awkward customer, red with rage, who for all I knew
was getting ready to book me for inappropriate behavior, for sexual display on a public highway, or, in any case, for "loitering with intent," looks at me with sudden affability and begins to ask me what, in my opinion, continues to be valid in Tocqueville's analysis.
|||Clive|||http://clivedavis.blogspot.com/2005/04/philosopher-caught-in-act-debonair.html|||4/01/2005 11:44:00 am|||||||||
In non-French eyes and even in France itself, this biography could backfire. What strikes us is not so much Lévy's chutzpah and self-promotion, as his phenomenal energy and the fact that, politically, he was mostly right. To have helped to break the stranglehold of the Left on French intellectual life long before the Soviet collapse was a service to the nation. And though his output is to say the least uneven, and his prose often affected, some of his writing, notably in his biography on Sartre, is brilliant.
Levy's media personality may grate, but French television is in permanent need of livening up, and his vivacity and versatility make a welcome change from the incantation of anti-American clichés by drab mediocrities with neither his intellect, his quick wit nor his style. To them and their admirers, Cohen's book will greatly appeal.