Ideas that add up #49

[Edith Wharton in French Ways and Their Meaning] claimed that, “There is a reflex of negation, of rejection, at the very root of French character: an instinctive recoil from the new, the untasted, the untested, like the retracting of an insect’s feelers at contact with an unfamiliar object.”

But she goes on to state that, “No civilized race has gone as unerringly as the French to the natural sources of enjoyment.”

As an American, I sometimes wonder whether our “power of positive thinking” isn’t really a negation, a rejection of boundaries, balance and the limitations of our own past. France offers us instead the power of negative thinking, which ultimately amounts to an affirmation of “the natural sources of enjoyment.”

Letter to editor from Paul Drexler, FT Weekend Magazine, May somethingth, 2012

The power of negative thinking! Thank you, you somewhat snooty French / you long-winded leisurely eaters of every nationality / you misbehaving inappropriate-hours drinkers / you politically incorrect social blunderers / you self-denigrating scoffers and oh-for-fucks-sake cynics…

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