BHL a Go-Go

A few years ago, I conducted a telephone interview with Bernard-Henri Lévy, who at the time was staying in his palace in Marrakech. Yes, his palace. Only a little of the interview ended up in my article. One of these days, I might publish the whole transcript, for posterity's sake.

But that was several books ago. My piece on his most recent opuscule will be out next month. For now, let me venture a prediction: the next one will be about Russia-and-Georgia.
The Independent reports on his latest wanderings:

One of a brigade of intellectuals dispatched from Paris, Lévy has made quite an impression at the Tbilisi Marriott, where he is ensconced with an entourage of personal cameraman, photographer, publicist and bodyguard.

"It's not too difficult to spot them," says a fellow guest. "They are all loafing around in the foyer puffing clouds of smoke, and gesticulating meaningfully. BHL is in his element going around in a crumpled white shirt, hair coiffed into a sort of wind tunnel effect, and reeking of perfume." Pressed as to his purpose in entering the war zone, Lévy stresses his visit wasn't mere tokenism. "I am an involved intellectual," he insists. "I came because I think the stakes are huge."

It isn't, in fact, the first time that he has engaged in international diplomacy. As well as positioning himself as a key negotiator in the Bosnian conflict, Lévy recently travelled to Darfur.

Perhaps it is his experience with grim detail of warfare that has helped him look on the bright side.

"There is one not-so-bad thing to come out of this conflict," he notes philosophically. "And that is that Georgia is now on the map."


Probably best just to bite one's tongue and let it go. Someone who owns a palace is not going to have his capacity to define the meaning of history challenged all that often.

On the limitations of BHL's work as such, see Doug Ireland's fine article from In These Times a while back:

His third book, the 1979 Le Testament de Dieu, was shot down in flames by Hellenist historian Pierre Vidal-Naquet (a moral leader of the French left) in a famous Nouvel Observateur article that detailed BHL's numerous errors. To take just two, BHL cited texts he claimed were from the decline of the Roman Empire (fourth century) which were actually from the first century B.C., and cited Heinrich Himmler's "deposition" at the Nuremburg trials, which opened six months after the SS leader's suicide. Interviewed 20 years later by Jade Lindgaard and Xavier de la Porte, the authors of Le B.A. BA du BHL (The ABCs of BHL), Vidal-Naquet said sadly, "We have passed from the Republic of Letters into the non-Republic of Media. I thought I had 'killed' BHL. I hadn't. I consider that a defeat."

UPDATE:  BHL has filed a dispatch from Georgia.
August 23, 2008 11:44 AM | | Comments (1)

1 Comments

Yes, please do post it all. Posterity needs such a kick in its posterior!

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