Saturday, July 13, 2013

Bastille Day, France, National Characteristics, Personality Types....and Chocolate Cake.

"The Storming of the Bastille" by Bernard Rene Jourdan, 1789.
In France this weekend they'll be celebrating Bastille Day - 14 July . On July 14, 1789, an angry armed mob took the Bastille, a medieval Paris fort, stronghold and prison where enemies of King Louis XVI were held. The Bastille was, to the people, a symbol of the despotism of the ruling Bourbon monarchy. This event became the opening salvo of the French Revolution. Louis XVI had ascended to the throne in 1774, facing a debt-ridden government, partly brought about by France's involvement in the American Revolutionary War. The population faced rising food costs, unjust work conditions, and an oppressive nobility and clergy. Widespread crop failures had resulted in famine. The people had every reason to revolt!

Some uncomplimentary stereotypes of the French national personality (if such a thing could possibly exist) have become embedded in the consciousness of people of the UK and USA. While I've never felt much affinity to France in general, I do admire that innate orneriness the French have, or at least had back in the 18th century.

Which thoughts led me to search a while on the matter of national characteristics and stereotypes. Just as there's a grain of truth in Sun sign stereotypes in astrology, there's going to be a grain of truth in national stereotypes. Italians = romantic, artistic, volatile. English = phlegmatic, sturdily independent. Scottish = dour, careful with money. Irish = gregarious, fond of a tipple. Germans = authoritarian, cold, industrious. French = aloof, arrogant, food-loving, artistic, lazy, give up easily.. USA = friendly, acquisitive, loud, full of themselves. Best stop there! Those are characteristics off the top of my head, by the way - others will have different ideas.

I came across a fun post on a blog called Taken by the Wind: Which Country Best Matches Your Personality. The blogger, takes information from Brent Massey's book Where in the World Do I Belong?

Which Country’s Culture Fits Your Myers Briggs Personality Type? There's a link to a shortened version of the long personality type test in the post. I took the test and came out as "INFJ".
Introvert(67%) iNtuitive(38%) Feeling(62%) Judging(22%)

You have distinctive preference of Introversion over Extraversion (67%)
You have moderate preference of Intuition over Sensing (38%)
You have distinctive preference of Feeling over Thinking (62%)
You have slight preference of Judging over Perceiving (22%)

Looking down the list to find in which country my INFJ credentials would fit most harmoniously I found, to my consternation, that I do not fit in anywhere - along with the INTJs. Wouldn't ya just know that an Aquarius Sun wouldn't fit in? So, I'm an outcast on Earth - maybe I'll fit in on a planet in a galaxy far, far away.

Anyway - back to France, where we started: the personality type said to find France (or Jordan) a good fit is ENTJ – The Executive : confident, opinionated, competitive, ambitious and analytical, which is what makes them ideal personalities for leadership roles. They have a natural ability to absorb and analyze large amounts of information and then make quick, often accurate assessments. They have a low tolerance for inefficiency or for people who don’t share their same perspective. Sometimes they can come across as overbearing or aggressive but they genuinely love people, are excellent conversationalists and can be quite sentimental.

On another level:

“He showed the words “chocolate cake” to a group of Americans and recorded their word associations. “Guilt” was the top response. If that strikes you as unexceptional, consider the response of French eaters to the same prompt: “celebration.”
― Michael Pollan, In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto

Show chocolate cake to me and I'd say - who made it? If it were one of my grandma's I'd say YUM! If it were one from Walmart or other US supermarket I'd say - YUK! That must be where the "J" in INTJ comes in: judgement!


mike said...

Pluto was in Capricorn from 1762 until 1778, then into Aquarius, which brought a need for liberty and equality after the reign of oppression (to the guillotine and off with their heads!). Our current Pluto in Capricorn has a lot of similarity to the last cycle.

Yummm (let them eat cake!)...Bastille cake...I want it now. And I agree, Twilight, only if it's non-commercial and high-quality. I prefer my own chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting.

Personality tests I don't need. That's why I enjoy accounts for an infinite array of personality need to be stereotyped.

Twilight said...

There do appear to be broad similarities, not necessarily in the USA, but around the world. I think it'll take the US a while to catch up.

I've thought for a while that 2025, when Pluto moves into Aquarius, Neptune into Aries and Uranus into Gemini things will start to happen on a big scale. Opened the ephemeris at September 2025 and I see that all three outers are at 1 degree of those signs.

I really, really want to be around to watch what happens then - but it'll take luck and holding steady on the health front, but it's not entirely out of the question. :-)

Choccy cake is my favourite, or used to be. I avoid what's generally available here like the plague.....far too sweet and greasy. Grandma's cake was paler in colour than the dark brown version generally seen, more like milk chocolate, and somehow the texture was much sturdier than the soft squishiness found nowadays. Sometimes she'd top it with melted milk chocolate and put butter-cream (real butter + icing sugar) filling in the middle; sometimes white icing sugar on top. Dribbles on keyboard.....

Those personality tests are questionable - just a bit of fun, not to be taken seriously. It depends on the questions one is asked....and they can be heavily in opinion polls.

mike (again) said...

To the French stereotype, you can now add "deceptive":

"In a survey conducted for the National Union of Hotel, Restaurant and Cafe Operators, a third of French restaurants acknowledged serving such factory-frozen products to clients. Restaurant owners estimated that the real number is substantially higher, as many chefs were embarrassed to admit the short cuts that, in effect, hoodwink their customers."

Those badsters...

Twilight said...

mike ~~ Well, well, well! There's a turn-up for the books! We need to send chef Robert Irvine over there with his Restaurant Impossible team to sort 'em out.
I occasionally catch the show on TV's Food Channel. Robert Irvine hates, hates, hates frozen food to be served in restaurants!

Right - deceptive will be borne in mind as an addition to known French national characteristics then.

My old post about Irvine and Restaurant Impossible:

mike (again) said...

Just read your Irvine post...he's deceptive, too! Or flim-flam, as anyjazz said. And you noted that our U.S. leader is of the flim-flam variety. Maybe "deceptive" is a human stereotype applicable to all nationalities. (S)he who flim-flams the most wins the most...they serve gourmet factory-frozen food for big $, star in TV shows, and run entire nations. Deception may be the secret to success.

Twilight said...

mike ~~ Flim-flam probably results from overdoses of Neptune. ;-) Or maybe those French genes have a habit of showing up in unexpected places!

James Higham said...

Oops, missed it. Thanks for reminding us.

Reannon said...

Thanks for the shout out. :)