Thursday, 15 September 2011

The Trouble with Impressions

There's a new book coming out over various interviews conducted with Jacqueline Kennedy.  It's dealing with the months after the assassination of her husband and revolves around her perceptions.  So somewhere in the midst of this interview period....someone asked her about French President Charles de Gaulle.  She comes to say some peppy things about her great passion and beliefs in the old general-turned-President of France.  Then, she finally gets a chance to meet de Gaulle.  Things went downhill fast.

She didn't have much positive to say.  She felt that he was mostly all hot-air.  And she had this impression that most French people were all about themselves, and not this perceived notion that she had over them being great citizens of the world.

I sat and pondered over this.  Typically, people get all peppy over 'legends'.  They will talk up how they'd really like to meet former President Jimmy Carter....then meet the guy, and come out with some pretty negative comments that he just wasn't the guy they thought he was.  It could be any media guy, any Hollywood gal, or even some joker from a reality TV series.

Jacqueline Kennedy ended up on some fancy government-paid trip with the President....had dinner with Charles de Gaulle, and probably sat next to some French bigwig dimwit.....who talked mostly and failed to impress her.   Toss in some fried snails, some fizzy French wine, a French snack made out of liver, and this probably wasn't the kind of great "Frenchness" that she had anticipated.

The comical part to this story is that if she'd only jumped in the car and gone fifty miles outside of Paris....some some farm village...things would have gone an entirely different direction.  She would have met some really fascinating local French folks....had some local wine and cheese.....and had the best experience of her life.  Real people, in a real setting, with real food and drink.

When folks talk about history in the making....this is actually history in the unmaking.

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