When my mother enrolled us in the French system, she was thinking beyond the language credentials. She knew, from a short stunt in the system herself , that French education was challenging and she has always sought to challenge and push us.
What I discovered after 13 years in the system, and the constant regurgitation of the system that I have done while tutoring my siblings and children, is that we have had access to the French culture and even more to their Carthesian mind frame. French have been trained to analyze and synthesize in a certain way.
And thus endowed with the complimentary, lengthy ten years in the American higher education system, I have been able to differentiate the two methods of thinking. As an Americanized scholar, the French writing is now highlighted as different, contrasting.
This is why I am an avid reader of LeMonde. While I have dislearned the French way of writing, which I can potentially reproduce only when I write in that idiom, I appreciate its complexity. I know where the syntax leads, I can guess the thought process of the writer.
I will translate an introductory paragraph to a political debate about Interventionism in Libya. Indeed, French intellectuals don't bask in their victories like Americans do.
Nicolas Truong sets a series of pertinent questions on November 25, 2011 (yes, my readings remain old):
Did we have to intervene in Libya? Did we have to bombard the tanks of colonel Khadafi that were heading towards Benghazi? Hasn't NATO abused its rights by utilizing "the responsibility to protect", the resolution that passed at the UN in 2005, and that permits to intervene if the population is threatened? Is this the prolongation of Western imperialism [...]? Has interventionism supplanted neutralism? Has the wait-and-see policy of realpolitik given place to an authentic politics of human rights? Has humanitarian militantism supplanted the pacifist solutions of negotiation?"
7 introductory questions to an Opinion page. Those international relations questions took me back to my university years. But more than the subject matter itself, was the construction of the thought process. Didn't the French invent diplomacy? Didn't Montesquieu write in this manner three centuries ago? Don't we study Montesquieu in 10th grade?
The opinion page introduced a debate between Bernard Henry-Levy, the famed philosopher, who, thinking he is the Jean Paul Sartre of the day, instigated Sarkozy to intervene in Libya , and an intellectual counterpart who is critical of what occurred. The BHL phenomena is also a French one, in a country that allows for the shining of philosophers.
The French write in a distinct way and I enjoy it daily.