This is an interesting case. I don't think advertising can make people buy something for which they don't feel a real need or which isn't so rewarding in some way that people come to see it as a need, and which doesn't to some degree provide what it purports to provide. At least not over a period of years--little bubbles of basically nonsensical enthusiasm--fads--can probably be generated with little more than clever marketing. But bottled water seems to be somewhere between those. I suspect that most people who habitually drink bottled water have a vague idea that it's healthier than tap water, but as the article says for most people this is not true. So apparently it is satisfying a need that is either based on misinformation, uncorrected for decades now, or is just some purely emotional but nevertheless persistent phenomenon.
Jean de Florette came out in France in 1986, and by 1987 in England everyone was talking about it. It was the must-see film of that year, and very rightly so, I think. It was the last year of my PhD research at London University, and I saw it in a London movie theatre with a friend. At the time I was locked into the struggle to complete my PhD, and impracticality versus worldliness was on my mind. I told my friend that the movie dramatized the defeat of the romantic, unworldly ‘Jean’ by the down to earth, farming Soubeyrans. My friend did not agree, arguing that the younger Soubeyran, Ugolin, also has a dream, of planting carnations on the land which Jean inherits. Certainly the movie is about the battle to possess this rich soil which Ugolin covets for his carnation project, but which the urbanite, tax-collector Jean has inherited from his mother.
Jean does not know he is in a battle with Ugolin Subeyran, or with Ugolin’s wicked uncle, César Subeyran. This ignorance on his part underlies much of the tragic irony of the movie, as we witness repeated scenes of lies, hypocrisy and double-entendre on Ugolin and César’s part, and of misunderstanding and false confidence on the part of the outsider, Jean. The Soubeyrans lie not only to Jean but withhold essential information from the villagers about him. So the hunchback Jean, his wife and their little girl are utterly isolated by this stream of bare faced lies and misinformation.
The basic lie told by the Soubeyrans in fact concerns a stream! Ugolin needs water for his planned carnation crops, and there is not sufficient on his own property. There is an old abandoned stream on Jean’s property. Ugolin and his uncle deliberately block the stream, and conceal its existence from Jean. Jean has arrived with his own romantic project, of escaping city life and breeding rabbits on his property. Without water, his hopes literally shrivel, his plants dying of thirst and his rabbits starving for lack of feed. Jean is destroyed by his increasingly heroic efforts to create a water source on his land.
The great irony of the film is that Jean has come to the French countryside in search of authenticity. Ugolin has never heard of that, and wonders if it is a plant which he will grow.
I remember, and I imagine most people, remember Jean de Florette for the wrenching performance as the hunchback by Gerard Depardieu. Its almost as tragic as the film itself to think of the fantastic promise of the young Depardieu, who displayed outstanding talents as an actor, and of his latter days when he has become famous for demeaning, drunken antics. Watching the film for a second time, after thirty years, though, I was struck by the wonderful, fox-like performance of Yves Montand as César Soubeyran, wicked through to the marrow, and of his weaker and more conflicted nephew, played by Daniel Auteil. All three of the main actors give brilliant performances in their roles.
The character played by Jean de Florette has been a staple of French comedy since Molière: he is the romantic idealist, whose ideas about how to live in the world come from textbooks, manuals and mathematical formulae. The comedy occurs when the rubber of the mathematical formulae hits the road of real life. So the city-dweller versus the earthy-peasants theme is a basic motif of French comic drama, and there is absolutely no doubt that the peasants have the upper hand, because their grasping nature leads them to grasp reality more firmly. Based on a novel by Maurice Pagnol, Jean de Florette is clearly no comedy because what happens to Jean is the stuff of tears, not of humour. But nor is the movie exactly a tragedy, because Jean lacks any tragic grandeur.
The movie has a direct religious theme from the start. The news that the land the Soubeyrans covet has slipped from their grasp comes to them in a letter from a priest’s housekeeper, who states that the man who has inherited the land, Jean Crespin is ‘a hunchback by the will of God’. In a great, unforgettable and climactic scene, when rain comes but falls on the other side of the mountain, not on his own crops, Jean cries out to ‘God’, demanding to know if he is ‘up there’ and if so how he could inflict such injustice on a hunchback. At the end of the movie, the exultant Soubeyrans perform an inverted ‘baptism’ of themselves in the gushing spring, blackening or blaspheming the sacrament. Jean de Florette is thus about the most typical of French theological questions, the absence of God. It may have been the last great burst of French Jansenism before the culture lapsed into secularism.
—Grumpy is a professor of theology in the Midwest.
...to show us that we don't have to take seriously everything a pope says.
I said that to my wife earlier and she laughed, but I'm only half-joking, at most. The remark was prompted by the latest round of confusion (to say the least) created by some of his off-the-cuff remarks. (Basic story here, a couple of commentaries here and here.) I'm beginning to shrug these things off: Oh, there he goes again, never mind.
That's not really the attitude I'd like to have. But this sort of thing is a pattern with Francis, and you can either spend a lot of time and anxiety trying to get it straight and fit it in with the Church's established teachings, or just...shrug it off.
And really, when it comes to the everyday chatter of a publicly loquacious pope, is there anything wrong with that? We were blessed over most of the past thirty years with two popes who combined depth of intelligence and insight with skill and care in expressing themselves. John Paul II especially was such a giant, and reigned for so long, and was so beloved by those of us who felt some kind of course correction was in order after the mistakes following Vatican II, that we tended to become papal maximalists. We were glad to see the pope exercising his authority in defense of the Church's teaching, of course, which is as it should be. But we--and really the whole world--tended to view the pope's every utterance as definitive and moreover to expect a steady stream of detailed and authoritative commentary on everything from him. This is really not the way the papacy has worked historically. It's only been made possible by modern communications. And it's not a burden that we can expect every pope to handle well.
Roughly twenty years ago, after the Catechism had been published, John Paul began making some fairly strong statements against capital punishment. I didn't (and don't) have a very strong opinion on that subject. But I had a conversation with a friend who was very opposed to it that troubled me--not because I was opposed to the pope's judgment that capital punishment should be used only rarely if at all, but because of something my friend said. He quoted then-Cardinal Ratzinger as saying that the Catechism might need to be revised to reflect what John Paul was teaching.
I found this shocking. It seemed to me that it was much too close to what many outside the Church believe--erroneously, I thought--to be the way the papacy works: that the pope has the authority to revise old doctrines or make up new ones as he pleases, or perhaps as the Spirit moves him.
That is in fact wrong, of course. Francis's habit of speaking spontaneously and sometimes carelessly, then having to clarify or correct what he said, is a good reminder that the authority of the papacy and the protection of the Holy Spirit don't necessarily extend to casual conversations of a specific pope.
This reminds me: a month or so ago I posted a complaint about some remarks made by Francis on the relationships among Christianity, Europe, and Islam. I modified the complaint after reading the full interview from which the remarks were taken, but still had some significant reservations. Here is a piece by Carl Olsen in Catholic World Report which articulates some of the same reservations I had. Reviewing this, I'm more convinced that we ought to start treating these more or less impromptu remarks by Francis as just that, as if they were part of a rambling and often speculative conversation with a friend, not fully-considered and definitive statements.
A good piece, I think. That is to say, I agree with his view. He's a little rough on the young Thomist he's arguing with, but I can sympathize with his exasperation.
I sympathize with the Thomist insistence on precision, too. We need it. But in some hands it can result in a maddening narrowness. I lost my temper with a Thomistically-inclined fellow once when he insisted that because the word "conservative" can't be defined rigorously it must have no meaning at all. Like a lot of things in life.