No, I’m not going to bore you with a treatise on my philosophy of life. This is about something that is really very, very French!
Just after the beginning of the year, our village began a Café Philosophe, which is basically a philosophy club. These got their start about 20 years ago in Paris and spread throughout the country.
The idea is that a group of individuals get together at a café and, for the price of a drink, spend a couple of hours discussing a philosophical subject that is, generally, chosen in advance. There is a moderator who tries to keep the flow of the discussion going, and maintain civility. The biggest problem is keeping everyone on topic, as these kinds of talks often meander into corners that are far distant from the place where they began.
JM went to the first one, which I missed because we only found out about it twenty minutes before it started and I had already begun cooking and couldn’t just leave. But I did go to the second one. There seem to be about 20 people who show up, which I think is pretty amazing in a village of this size. In fact, not everyone who was there last week was even from our village, but several came from the surrounding area.
It was very lively and there were no dead periods. I was a little concerned that I wouldn’t participate, because, believe it or not, I tend to be kind of shy in group settings. But I managed to make several points and didn’t feel as if I’d embarrassed myself. I was the only non-French person there though. And, I can see that, because you do need to have a good command of the language to follow along in a discussion like these.
I asked several of my American friends if they could imagine something like this in the small American towns where they live, and no one could. JM and I wondered why it worked in France so well, and our conclusion is that the French love to talk about all kinds of different things. Even people who are not hugely well educated often have strong viewpoints on a variety of subjects and never hesitate to give their opinions on them.
The group meets twice a month, on the first and third Friday at 5:30. Right now we’re meeting in the bar of the Hotel de France. I don’t know what will happen for the second meeting in February, as they are closing for two weeks so Didier can have knee surgery.
If you’re in the area and feel up to it, come and participate. It was loads of fun.
Ciao for now.