Frenchie and the Pessimism Nouveau

4 Jan

Breaking news: “France tops misery poll for 2011”. “French, the world champions of scepticism”. “France lands in Top 5 pessimistic countries for 2011 ahead of Afghanistan and Irak”!

The French are pessimistic? Really? Now that’s not really breaking news!!

Pessimism is a French trait and that’s not new. The French are pessimists and they raise pessimistic children. Didn’t de Gaulle himself once say that the French are “temperamental, stubborn and complainers”? I think he also forgot pessimistic. So is pessimism a French invention?

Heard out and about:

– in the U.S.: “I thought the Patriots didn’t play very well last night. I don’t know, something about their game. They have a weak pass defense. And they keep loosing. But the new kid is doing a great job for them and they’re definitely gonna come back strong, I just know they’re gonna win!”

– in France: “Yeah, the French team was not too terrible last night but… I just know they won’t win. There’s no way they’re gonna make it to the finals. No way! I mean, yeah they won last night – not by much if you ask me – but the way it’s going right now, they won’t win.”

– in the U.S.: “You have good grades overall. You just have to be careful in Biology, you got a B -. Let’s set up something with other classmates so we can create a support system and hold group studies twice a week, I know it’d be very beneficial for everyone and your grades would definitely improve!”

– on a French grade report: “Shows some potential, but could do better. Must try harder”.

<Sigh!> The French grade report. Didn’t we all get at one point the dreaded and completely obscure – although now hilarious – “peut mieux faire” (“could do better”)? Weren’t we trying our hardest to get the best grades until we realized that no one could ever get a grade better than 12 out of 20? If you got 10, you could claim to be a happy man. “No need to study like crazy, you know this teacher never gives anyone more than 9 or 10 out of 20 anyway!” So pessimists from Day 1? “Nice drawing but it could use more colors” – the joys of art classes!

The French and their “buts”, somehow, somewhere, there will be a “mais” in the sentence. “It’s good but… you did not do enough work on the last part of the assignment”. “Yes you can come to the party but… there will be a lot of people”. “This recipe is very tasty but… I would have added more rosemary”. When there’s a will, there’s a but. Is “yes, but” the greatest French pessimistic tool ever invented? What a civil way of agreeing while reinforcing a pessimistic disagreement!

So which is better? The French very realistic pessimistic approach that 2011 is not going to be a great year for the economy or the American “think positive with blinders on” overcaffeinated hyper approach that all is going to be well and you just have to trust the system? A little bit of both maybe? In any case, whether you want to French-complain your New Year or American-artificially-force 2011, remember to optimistically wish every one a good New Year.

Happy Freakin’ New Year, this is so exciting woo hoo!… yes, but the Holidays are over and we have to go back to work… boo!

Pessimistic, moi?


2 Responses to “Frenchie and the Pessimism Nouveau”

  1. Frank Eschmann January 4, 2011 at 5:25 PM #

    I love reading your blog!

    While I agree with most of the context of this latest blog entry I really feel that Bostonians (unlike the rest of America) are very similar to the French. Listen to Red Sox fans during baseball season, There is only pessimism. The Sox could be ahead by 8 games and you’ll hear ‘well they can’t keep this up – I know they won’t win”

    I would like to think that I am one of the American-style “positive thinkers” but in actuality I am a “pessimistic realist!”


  2. Xrumer Service June 13, 2011 at 3:01 PM #

    wow – now that’s what i call a good article. keep up the work


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