The French are a weird bunch. Just as you think that you’ve begun to understand how the nation thinks they come up with something new to surprise you. The latest attack on Sarkò is a clear indication of this particular trait. It turns out that the intellectuals and philosophers of the hexagon are incensed at Sarkò’s constant promotion of his favourite pastime: jogging (or le footing, le jogging or le running). Mr Sarkozy has made no secret of his love of physical fitness and barring a little slip up Chez Monsieur Putin – attributed to his being out of breath after rushing up a flight of steps (while most of the world thought he had been sampling some good Ruski Vodka), his image is of the physically fit and spritely President.
So what is the fuss all about? Left-wingers (and here I resist using the tag wishy-washy communists) believe that jogging and runnning do not befit the reflective nature of Les Français. This is they tell us, after all, the nation of le promenade when you can stimulate your reflective neurons at a leisurely stroll. Jogging is too rightist – it is not to be found at the centre of Western Civilisation. The Spartans, that race recently adopted by the Americans, are presumably to be left out of the equation. We are more like the Athenians it seems… ready to mull and discuss around the agora – leaving the physical exertions to the others.
“Western civilisation, in its best sense, was born with the promenade. Walking is a sensitive, spiritual act. Jogging is management of the body. The jogger says I am in control. It has nothing to do with meditation.”
Mr. Finkelkraut – a leftist philosopher tells us that Sarkozy should take up walking like Socrates and Rimbaud. Presumably while jogging he does not get the same kind of mental relaxation. I would beg to differ. In my sporting prime I would find the tempo of breathing and jogging on long distance runs very conducive to clear thinking – but then I never was a full-fledged leftie myself so I would not know what I am talking about.
Then there are the expert critics. Apparently Sarkò doesn’t even have a good running style and he is constantly overweight. He can’t get it right can he?
Anyways. One thing to remember when in France – a tip for the aspiring wankellectuals (you just knew it was coming wasn’t it). If you want to impress and flaunt your wankellectual credentials do not boast about your early morning jog, your iPod and your Nikes to match. Just mention how you enjoyed reflecting upon life’s simple secrets while strolling carefully along some avenue.
In other words, when in France… walk… don’t run.