Friday, March 19, 2004

Bohemian Rhapsody

Bernard Cantat, the standard bearer for a generation of French idealists, awaits a verdict on charges of killing his girlfriend, admired for her moving portrayals of sensual, highly strung and often vulnerable women, in a jealous rage after she received an affectionate text message from her former husband and father of two of her children.

Ah, those free-spirited idealists ! Those unconventional rebels against bourgeois values ! The trouble is that the ideas of the Sixties are now the values of most of us. The great Dalrymple speaks thus :

Take but their elevated status as celebrities away, and Trintignant and Cantat were the typical underclass couple of whom I encounter at least one daily in my medical practice, year in, year out. Since the sexual revolution of the sixties, in fact, insensate jealousy of the kind that leads to death in Vilnius hotel rooms has become not morbid or pathological, but perfectly normal, at least in the statistical sense. There has—in Britain at least—been an upsurge in violence between the sexes, by no means all of it committed by men against women.

A few weeks ago, for example, I had a medical student attached to me. The first patient whom we saw together was a young man brought to the hospital by the police with the blood of his girlfriend, whom he had just stabbed to death, still on his shoes. She had taunted him, he said, about his inferior performance as a lover compared with her last such, one of many, whom she had then telephoned to ask him to come and “sex her up” because he—the murderer—was not up to it. A man conditioned to believe by an over-sexualized culture that sexual performance was the only real measure of a human being, he resorted to the kitchen knife and stabbed her not once, not twice, but thrice. Thereafter, he had called the police and taken the pills, rather like Cantat. I looked at my medical student as the patient told his story: an intelligent, sheltered young man (as young men ought to be), he learned more about human nature in that ten minutes than in all the rest of his life put together. He aged, or perhaps I should say matured, visibly as he listened. And in the afternoon, we saw a man who had strangled his girlfriend in her parents’ house, also in an access of jealousy. Not for the student any longer the shallow pieties of the sexual revolution.

Jessica Harbour doesn't like Dalrymple's 'smarm posing as pity'. Emmanuelle Richard also comments.

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