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French weekly magazines review 7 August 2016

Revue de presse des hebdomadaires
Revue de presse des hebdomadaires DR
Text by: Tamara Thiessen
4 min

It seems to be philosophy time for the French weeklies – outer space and our increasing inroads into it – the death of civilisations, human resilience and man’s relationship with animals.


Marianne meantime looks at another life issue under its cover title "the French who move" as it speaks with French people who have changed their lives and country, still a relative novelty in France unlike some other countries. Now there are those looking to new horizons not for personal reasons but for work and life-changing experiences.

"Civil society is mobilising," it reports. "Associations and volunteering have never done so well.

Though from the cover it might seem to be a story about expats, the magazine manages to tie the subject into the big issue of the moment - that of terrorism.

"This big social ebb is not just a reaction to the attacks", it says, "It renews the link with a long French tradition." That of discovery and a taste for outside.

It’s true that the French are slowly starting to rediscover the taste of adventure - and travel to far-off lands - so loved by their explorer ancestors - whereas until quite recently many French people - especially Parisians - would tell you that Brittany on France's west coast is "le bout du monde" - the end of the world.

Over the past few years, that has been starting to change - and Marianne goes and meets some of those French citizens who as it says are displaying that somewhat curious "interest in others".

Back in France the left-wing weekly looks to the "Trail of the Imam on Facebook" saying the social media network is at the heart of the current controversy over security because "Terrorists and jihadist apostles are recruiting on there".

L’Express casts another sideward philosophical gaze at the Nice Bastille Day attack - and the human sociology at work in the wake of that - with its main story headed "Relive: the secrets of resilience." That magic R word resilience which we are hearing more and more about as the disasters multiply.

Why it iasks the review that some people are broken by trauma while others manage to be almost reborn? Where do they draw the strength to bounce back, despite the huge misfortunes suffered?

To illustrate its point, the magazine interviews not someone involved in the French terrorist attacks, but the French actress Lola Dewaere.

Her father committed suicide when she was 3 - later she spent months in a hospital bed demolished by a serious car accident. Today she "shines" as the heroine in the Sacha Guitry play - perhaps not incidentally named Une Follie - at Paris's Rive Gauche theater.

Le Figaro magazine carries a picture of a black ape on its cover in a very 'je pense, donc je suis' – I think therefore I am – pose... hand to his chin.

How has our view of the animal changed? Quizzes the philosopher Francis Wolff – across epochs and civilizations and with the increasing urbanisation of society. Let's start, he says, by debunking a few misconceptions: ”No, a mole is not myopic, a bat is not blind and bulls have never been excited by the colour red …”

An emeritus professor at the Ecole Normale Supérieure de Paris - in his latest book, Our Humanity: From Aristotle to Neurosciences published by Fayard, Wolff argues that people must stop assimilating animals with objects – and most of all – assimilating them with human beings.

And finally to the Nouvel Observateur or L'Obs which, other than gazing to outer space and man’s "desire for infinity", carries a study showing that 65 per cent of French people deem that the President François Hollande and Prime Minister Manuel Valls are not taking "all necessary means" to trounce the terrorist threat on French soils.

A figure which has risen sharply since January - with the left-wing weekly finding criticism of the government is at its highest among right wing and extreme right voters, at 78 and 85 percent respectively.

Only a majority of socialist supporters – 74 per cent, it said, gave a positive judgment - though that number still dropped by 18 points compared to January.

National Front supporters were the most severe with 95 per cent giving a negative opinion - up 16 points.

Meanwhile, 77 per cent of respondents found the overall fight against terrorism in France was "not effective ", a jump of 24 points - against 22 percent who find it "effective" - down 25 points.

Only a narrow majority of Socialist Party supporters – 55 percent - judged the policy effective, down 28 points since January.


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