Monday, June 06, 2005

I just found out that France's Prime Minister, Dominique de Villepin, is a poet. Very cool. This article in the (UK) Times Online explores the gulf between how words are used politically in France in the US (the piece is titled When Rimbaud Meets Rambo.) In 1998, George Bush, Sr. said "I can't do poetry." And, according to the article
At a Nato summit in Prague, Donald Rumsfeld was once forced to sit though a performance of modern dance and poetry. Asked for his reaction afterwards, he shrugged: “I’m from Chicago.”
Well, Mr. Rumsfeld, I'm from Chicago, too. In fact, we went to the same high school. And I ended up getting a degree in modern dance and poetry! I guess you didn't take advantage of the rich culture Chicago has to offer. Chicago is a vibrant creative community--full of dance, and theater and art and literary life. It's your loss, Mr. Rumsfeld. And it's the country's loss when poetry can't thrive in the White House, when your administration is so hell bent on war, on destruction, that there is no room for creativity to breathe, no room for dance to happen. And so you begin to see creativity as a threat--a threat to order, a threat to power. And that's what makes poetry so powerful and subversive, so potentially dangerous and healing.
George Bush and Dominique de Villepin might learn much from each other, but no amount of translation could allow them to speak the same language. In the aftermath of 9/11, M de Villepin walked through Manhattan: “In the flayed city, facing the raging winds, I called upon the words of Rimbaud, Artaud or Duprey. At such a grave hour, how could one not think of these thieves of fire who lit up, for centuries, the furnaces of the heart and the imagination, of thirst and insomnia, to build an empire only within oneself.” Mr Bush also surveyed the city, but did not think of poetry or imagination: he invaded Afghanistan.

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