Coffee Talk: Cultural Preservation

Macarons in their birth country!

Here in France 40% of the music on the radio must be French – whatever that means, considering the number of Beyonce and Lady Gaga remakes I’ve heard on this holiday!  The government puts significant funds into the proliferation of French culture, in particular the film industry, in addition to taxing French books at a much lower rate than foreign books.  Whether or not that means the book needs to be written by a French person,  in French and published by a French publishing company to meet the special taxation standards, I’m not exactly sure.  The Académie Française keeps close tabs on language, allowing new words to enter the French dictionary – like “smartphone” and “internet” – and disallowing other words whenever possible (amongst other responsibilities).

Though I respect the French for their staunch stand on cultural preservation, I can see how it might be interpreted as a touch pugnacious in an era  of globalization. Only time will tell in this grand experiment whether a national insistence on preservation will prove beneficial in future.  Giving priority to French creations sounds like heaven to the artist in me…

Sacre Coeur, Paris

It’s an interesting idea, one I wish the Native Hawaiians might have been more vigilant about during the mass invasion of British and American missionaries and tradesmen.  Too little focus on cultural preservation inevitably leads to a diluting of a region’s unique consciousness and practices.

The question remains, is the converse true as well?  Are nations on the far end of the protective spectrum – like Bhutan or North Korea – setting themselves up for a regressive kind of isolation?

Clearly France is nowhere near those two extremes, but it’s an interesting debate, one that was had over delicious food and a few glasses of rose.  A perfect setting for such things, voila.


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