International Writers Magazine:
The amount of artistic
expression necessary to satisfy a persons need for beauty varies
according to that individuals capacity for fulfillment. Some
people can be satisfied by a trip to Disney World while for others the
earth, the moon and the stars are never enough. When I was younger
I worked full-time as a designer, which would be quite enough creation
for many. Yet I still found time to run around in search of other
media of expression. I did a comedy act, visited galleries and museums,
read three books at a time, played music, haunted art cinemas.
The meaning of art is to enhance a miserable and brutish natural
existence by the flowering of culture. Sometimes that expression
can take the form of a flying leap executed by Baryshnikov as part
of ballet choreographed by Balanchine. Other times the expression
of art can be quite horrifying, as in a tableau by Hieronymus Bosch
or an Aliens movie. image
In retrospect I now understand that I was charging my batteries with the
cultural arsenal to one day explode as a writer, though previous to the
Internet I never bothered to write a word. For what reason, to show
to a useless agent or publishing hack? Pearls before swine!
Now that I have access to Internet technology to take my case directly
to the mass audience, those bureaucrats can be excised as conveniently
as cutting fat off a steak.
A rich vein of inspiration has always been French cinema, and not just
Truffault and Bresson blah blah blah, but other monsters of the cinematic
world such as René Clair, Marcel Pagnol or Alain Resnais.
A Resnais film that comes to mind at this moment of mounting political
and labor strife in France is an allegorical comedy from 1980 entitled
Mon Oncle dAmérique, a title whose correlation
to the story, like many pieces written by the narrator of this piece,
rests only in the convoluted artistic thought processes of the creator,
starring Gérard Dépardieu and Nicole Garcia. The film
deals with young persons who try to make a go of it in the arts but are
inevitably sucked into the deceits and heart-rending disappointments of
survival in the corporate world.
What brought this nasty little comedy to mind is a scene wherein Dépardieu,
absolutely distracted to wits end, attempts to hang himself with
a length of rope. Unfortunately this comedic creation of Resnais
a generation ago is finding its reflection in the labor relations world
of contemporary France, where in the last year four highly specialized
engineers for the auto manufacturer Renault have committed suicide, three
on company premises.
The highly lucrative French automotive industry has a global reach, though
French cars are not sold in the U.S. for reasons of distribution.
Renault for years owned Jeep in the U.S. but sold it to Chrysler because
French executives declined to live in Detroit.
The Renault business model, with its Japanese partner Nissan, requires
it to continue churning out an unprecedented number of new models each
season. Renault is run by Carlos Ghosn, who formerly ran Fords
European division and also worked for Volkswagon. Ghosn is demanding
eight new models every year, which is double the previous number.
Technical jobs are a lovely way to work because machines and industrial
production is an exact science without having to take into account the
variables of human behavior, which is always a drag in a job situation,
what with people constantly coming up with excuses why they cant
do the job. Carlos Ghosn has a solution for this assign a
man a backbreaking workload and if he doesnt perform, you fire him.
End of story. Maybe Sarkozy should bring Ghosn in to improve productivity
in the French public sector, except Ghosn probably makes 20-30 times what
Anyway, Ghosn breaks the backs of his engineers. This is how one
technician described a normal days work at the Renault Technocentre
in Guyancourt: work at the office from 8AM-8PM, go home, eat dinner, work
at home 10PM-1AM.
No wonder these people are jumping out of windows: fourteen hours a day
working out the specifications for which celanoid alternator to use to
reverse the electrical charge in the windshield wipers for the Laguna
Needless to say, the 35-hour workweek doesnt cover these guys.
Nothing does. Thats capitalism for you! But if the pressure
is too intense you can always quit and go to work at a nice cushy job
for French railways. There, all they have to do is work for 37 1Ž2
years to qualify for a pension, right?
Wrong. Sarkozy, who never held a real job in his life wants to raise
the bar from 37 1Ž2 to 40 years, in the interest of fiscal reform, so
he can push through tax cuts for hedge fund traders.
The only difference is that unlike the flying engineers of Renault, the
rail workers are organized into unions, and when they go on strike they
enjoy the support of a large segment of the overworked French general
The current rail stoppage, which is the first since 1995, has been going
on for a week and instead of losing momentum it seems to actually be picking
up steam. The largest rail union, the CGT, seemed to be in favor
resuming rail service in order to facilitate negotiations with the government
but in face of government intransigence over increasing the pension requirements,
the smaller, more militant unions seem to be winning worker support for
continuing the walkout.
At this writing the railway unions are being joined by eight public service
unions, who are calling for a national strike for November 20 to protest
the French governments hard line with regard to salary increases.
They seem to be betting on public support and hoping that the hostility
over the inconvenience will coalesce against the government. This
is the first big move against Sarkozy of the type that forced Chirac to
retreat so many times. Time will tell if his will is stronger than
that of the public, and whether the pressure will bend him or cause him
In addition to these nasty labor relations situations, the Sarkozy government
is moving toward DNA testing to prove blood relations of the families
of immigrants. This is not a subject I have meditated on very much,
so I dont have a formulated opinion, but it is already ringing alarm
bells in France, with protests and street demonstrations in all the major
While the perfect storm is building, Sarkozy has effectuated a state visit
to the Kingdom of Morocco, where he signed several agreements with the
Moroccan government for the €2 billion construction of a TGV rail
line to link Tangiers with Marrakech, the sale of a naval frigate for
the Moroccan navy, and a uranium extraction agreement.
© Dean Borok October 25th 2007
(Ed's note: You currently have to work 46 years in the UK to get a full
pension - currenly 84 pounds or $170 a week)
all rights reserved - all comments are the writers' own responsibiltiy
- no liability accepted by hackwriters.com or affiliates.