OPINION
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Another perfect article

A few words on the reports that would have been...

Years ago I promised to write each year a summer article on all the articles I would have liked to write that year. These articles never seem to happen. But I can leave a few pointers so that others may, with luck, imagine the perfect article I never wrote.

I would like to have written, for example, an article promising that I would never again write an article on nationalism, Catalan or otherwise. This is a non-starter. As Proust says, what has not entered rationally into your head can never come out of it in rational form. Nationalism is a feeling, grown into an ideology. Or a neurosis. Every society has its neurosis: Catalonia's neurosis is Spain. In a dream I heard a person who seemed to be Vladimir Putin, but might have been Jordi Pujol, say: "The Catalan who does not want independence has no heart; the one who wants it has no head." In my article I would abominate people who abominate Catalan (or Basque or Galician) nationalism, even while lamenting the lukewarmth of Spanish patriotism.

Another article I would like to write is one in praise of Germany, so unpopular of late. The argument would be simple: Nobody can lead a united Europe better than Germany, because nobody has come nearer to doing away with nationalism. The Germans, toward the end of the 18th century, invented nationalism; then in the middle of the 20th, they brought it to its ecstatic paroxysm: about 50 million dead. Hence in Germany today no educated person can pronounce the word nationalism without their hair standing on end. Hence the monument, in the center of Berlin, to the Soviet soldiers who took the place by fire and sword. Hence the present aspiration of the better sort of Germans to dissolve themselves in Europe.

To tone down my Teutonic enthusiasm, I would write of the amazement caused in Germany by the recent publication of certain writings of the young John F. Kennedy, in which he praises Hitler; because it is amazing that the Germans, who have admitted to their bad history more frankly than some other nations, have forgotten that the question is not just how a band of gangsters led by a psychopath cast a spell over their own country, but how they cast a spell over the whole world.

The discothèque is the haunt of the people's vanguard: a realization of the democratic ideal"

I would like to write about the concept of "post-communist depression" coined by Emmanuel Todd, to describe the void left behind by the disappearance of communism in lands where it constituted a "structuring collective creed." A void without which it is hard to explain the nihilism of Berlusconi, or the racist populism of Le Pen.

Speaking of creeds, I would include Dostoyevsky's observation: "There is in man no preoccupation more constant that that of seeking (while being free) someone to bow down to." And speaking of Dostoyevsky, I would throw into the pot the fascinating story I found in The Times Literary Supplement about the hoax perpetrated by a scholar who avenged himself on some hated rivals with his invention of a supposed encounter between Dickens and Dostoyevsky, which they all swallowed hook, line and sinker.

But what I would most like to write is a commentary on the work of Guillaume Dustan, a mediocre writer, dead, homosexual and exhibitionist, and who now being hyped by the incurable pompous snobbery of French critics. The article would in fact be an excuse for a furious apology for the discothèque - a place I frequented little in youth, because my head was too full of Kierkegaard, and nowadays even less, because the bouncers confuse me with a dad coming to spy on his kids, and won't let me in. But I am convinced that it is a fantastic place, ideal for these hot August nights. The article would end with these words of the French critic Thomas Clerc, à propos of Dustan's passion for the discothèque: "Dance and music unite the people. And when all is said and done, the discothèque at night is the haunt of the very vanguard of the people; a realization of the democratic ideal." Have a nice summer.