La version américaine du Bloc-Notes de Bernard-Henri Lévy "Abstention, piège à cons ? Silence, on tue (en Syrie). Pourquoi le FN n’a pas sa place au Parlement. Sollers et Picasso. Mes regrets, monsieur Sotinel" (The Huffington Post, 12 juin 2012)

The Huffington PostLow, grey sky over Paris. Round, ironic clouds. And this bizarre legislative election with a rate of abstention that beats all records of the 5th Republic. Indifference? Sudden misperception of what is at stake? Or a new pattern of politics: one day effervescence and the next, for no particular reason, apathy anew, disoriented, absurd? In any case, what is not absurd is the idea of reforming the system.

A priori, there are two solutions — only two. The one immediately suggested by Christophe Barbier, the director of l’Express: disconnect the two elections, hold the legislative elections at a year’s interval — at the risk of making a President Hollande work with a parliament of the right, or the inverse, for a year. Or the solution proposed three years ago by the Balladur commission and reiterated by Noël Mamère of the Greens: have the two elections coincide, the same gesture, on the same day, at the same hour — with the risk of accentuating the presidentialization of the regime.

It’s that or nothing. That, or the transformation of France into a province of the empire of Nothing. After the French Republic, France as a prefecture. Is this what we want?

During the elections, the massacre continues in Syria. Combat helicopters at Rastane. The province of Dier Ezzor, in the east, pounded as never before by heavy weapons. 17 dead last Sunday. 63 Saturday. And a good third of Syria transformed, to the indifference of practically everyone, into a gigantic antechamber of death.

For President Hollande, endowed with this bizarre but henceforth very probable parliamentary majority, there are, once again, two options — only two. The option François Mitterrand chose, in Bosnia, combining the wrong gesture with the right words (an intervention that wasn’t actually one and that, like « a poem without ink, » in Jean Cocteau’s words, erased the fine page Mitterrand had written with the trip to Sarajevo in 1992). Or the precedent of Sarkozy who, in Libya, put into action the words « responsibility to protect » written in the new obligations of the United Nations charter (for the first time in contemporary history, a « gratuitous » military intervention, with no colonial aims in mind, without a projected occupation of the country, of no national strategic interest). Hollande’s mentor or his predecessor. It’s up to him to say. He must choose.

The positive aspect of abstention is that it raises the threshold for a candidate who has come in third on the first election round to remain on the ballot for the second one. But the bad side is that we’ll be subjected to the eternal debate, led by the loudmouths of the Front National, on the question of whether it is normal that a party that has won 13% of the votes should have only two or three deputies in Parliament.

Well, let’s be clear. And, to those who would be intimidated by all this squawking, reread Toqueville, Montesquieu or, before either, Demosthenes’s « Against Aristogiton. » Democracy is not simply the law of the greatest number. It is also, and moreover, principles. And when these principles are threatened, there must be safeguards to protect them.

Today there is a threat: this party, the FN, that preaches disunion, promotes an exit from the European Union and proposes suicidal measures in a time of crisis. And, in the face of this threat, this safeguard: a threshold effect, yes; the face-to-face, in the legislatives as well, of a man and a people; and, consequently, the refusal to fall into the trap of proportional representation.

Philippe Sollers’s L’éclaircie is also a film (directed by Sophie Zhang and G. K. Galabov, and projected last week in the grand auditorium of the Institut du cerveau et de la moelle épinière and available, in the current absence of a better solution, on the internet site of the author of Femmes). Haydn chats with Manet. A « ravishing » young lady of Avignon dances to a concerto for lute by Vivaldi. Manet’s women encounter those of Picasso. Conchita, the little sister who died at 8, is restored to life in pencil. And the painter’s first self-portraits. And Lautréamont as an opener. And the haunting look of Rimbaud, contrabandier of music, that follows us until the very last image. A phrase, because it speaks of the solitary heroism of Picasso and because it also recalls another film, La dialectique peut-elle casser des briques, by the pro-China René Viénet in the early ’70s, could serve as an epigraph to the film: « The strongest walls open when I pass ».

René Crevel (whose Ecrits sur l’art, including, precisely, this Picasso ou l’imagination critique that I read, then lost, in 1976, at the time when I played his character in an adaptation for television of Aragon’s masterpiece, Aurélien, have finally been published in a collection by Petite Bibliothèque Ombres) once said that in literary war, one can wander in « reflection, » but one must « be sure » of his « reflexes. » Well, for once, it didn’t work. And this aphorism that, for a long while, has been a sort of secret rule for me, this time, apparently, I didn’t stick to it. A critic of cinema, Thomas Sotinel, having described me as an « unwitting disciple of Chaplin, » I replied, in the same humorous tone, that, since Chaplin was the greatest actor of all time, his comparison granted me far too much honor, and that my presence on the Council of the journal he writes for in no way obligated him to flatter me so. The man in question did not find that in the least funny. And, ultimately, I believe he is right. The vagaries of the live word and its direct transmission. And the right, in this case, to a retake and my regrets. Done, readily and sincerely.

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