The Swamp logo

It’s not Worth Taking on any Hero’s Journey without YOU in it!

by Philippe Stonebeck 8 months ago in opinion

Strange as it seems, you don’t have to believe in love to fall in love. Also worth understanding is that politics don’t matter as much when you have yourself.

© 2021 Artist Benichou

This is a story of My French Experiment after 40 years in the US. Five years in Provence. A year is not enough to get a real sense of what the French are all about.

Like Betty Davis said in one of her movies, “fasten your seat belts; it’s gonna be a bumpy ride.” We live in a changing world, but this time the change is a mutation. We are witnessing a brand new beginning and it must be celebrated with presence, humor and clarity.

“Not everything is politics, but politics is interested in everything.” Machiavelli

I remember Bob Dylan’s song in the early 90’s “We Live in a Political World” and saying to myself: boy, this great artist is announcing a new era! What it really says to me is that we can politicize anything and turn any issue into more power — very clever. Even the air you breathe is political! How dysfunctional did we get?

Politics truly don’t matter when you have yourself

There’s an ancestral, yet unholy trinity, that thrives on exploiting the individual spirit: morals, religion and politics. Morals, religion and politics have indeed survived well with their insidious double-binds and fear campaigns. It goes back before recorded history.

As an example, we have perfumed and powdered slavery and covert bondage to such an extent. Yet, it is as alive today as it was when it started. Is it just man’s nature?

All lives matter!

As a matter of fact, I personally think political correctness has ruined our capacity to really talk to each other; it has robed us of our intuition and instincts in the last thirty years. Do you remember when you could watch a debate and really hear the two sides? There was so much to learn in the process. Passion ruled, not deafness and closed-mindedness.

Back to the story

For my part, I live in France now, and this is where it gets really entertaining. My mom was French. She left me a small house in Provence, which I had to buy from my crazy brother in New York who didn't want it. It was in really bad shape and I nearly lost my shirt trying to fix it up from California. It was finally completed in 2015—13 years later.

My wife and I met in 2014 and we both had grown tired of LA. We saw an opportunity to make the jump and go for the “wine and cheese” life style. Living in France, and especially Provence, is everyone's dream, right? Wether it is or not, the good news is how much less money you need to live in France. Our biggest expense is food and wine, at a fraction of the cost in the USA. For $3.00 a bottle you can drink some of the most palatable wines you can't even find in the States for $30.00 a bottle.

Beyond wine and cheese

I used to come to France on vacation. People have no idea what the French are really like. Spending a week in France "on the go" because you want to see everything, if you can afford it, won’t allow you to scratch the surface of how insane the French are.

For instance, it is fun to notice how hermetic and extraordinarily limited the French language is. It is turning on itself more and more visibly in the past few decades, i.e. repeating to each other the same old stories, slogans and glorious hierarchical metaphors since the French Revolution.

French has approximately 135 000 words compared to English, which has over 520 000 words. Mind you, the average person does not use more than 20 000 words up to maybe 35 000, but it's still a lot of words.

Since we moved, we have fallen prey to endless postures of complexity and vanity from the population. They hate foreigners and especially Americans. Daily on T.V., journalists, who are considered Gods, sing the false songs of liberty, equality and fraternity (the pillars of the French Republic). It is more hilarious than sad or depressing. I confess that the French have a glorious past, very seductive and original in its heyday.

To see it all play out is quite scrumptious for me, after a long absence. I spent quite a few years in France growing up. My mom forbade me to forget my French, under penalty of death by guillotine (she was a true revolutionary), so the move was relatively smooth on a practical level.

Emotionally and intellectually, I don’t think France survived 1789 (the French Revolution), not even “L’après-guerre” (after the second World War).

Sartre and Camus, without forgetting Simone de Beauvoir are heroes here. The old mantras and ideas that came out of that 1940’s are bombarded non-stop in articles and diner conversations. Name dropping is a sport here. From philosophy, literature, historical journalism to psychology (mostly Freud and Lacan), names are dispersed like confetti on election day. Forget art, it is hardly referenced these days, except for Picasso, who lived in France most of his life.

The French show occasional outbursts of creativity but essentially innovation has officially stopped. Below the countless layers of veneer and heavy perfume, they are fundamentally anti-individual, though they would deny it with great fervor — bat ov kourse!

This sad phenomenon is rather unconscious, essentially schizophrenic, full of double binds and implicit labyrinths of distorted bad drama. I don’t like the French spirit — never did. There are rare exceptions.

My mother past in 2002, and she had a very unusual French spirit back when a high delightful spirit was the only fashion. Up until 1978, France had a fantastic economy (known as the Thirty Glorious Years), which has been in such an absolute decline since. Today in 2021, almost 50% of GDP goes to subsidize social services and the hundreds of foreigners who are literally "paid" to move to France. France has not been able to afford it anyway.

Deep in their homogenized angry and frustrated spirits, the French are anti everything — it is not a joke. They complain about everyone and everything, all the time. As mentioned and to be fair, there are a few exceptions — and God knows they are hunted down and hated. They’ve been on a roll why not go all the way and exterminate even the idea of a spirit of enterprise and independence? There was a wonderful political journalist and essayist by the name of Philippe Muray, who described what has been going on since the 80's. Raymond Aaron is also another writer to consider who truly saw what France was becoming.

The french countryside is beautiful and absolutely charming. The food, wine and cheese are a-ma-ZING! It’s been a great education. I had to realize that my mind was so full of clichés about the French. My wife and I spend a great deal of time traveling — everything in Europe is so close by car.

Regarding the absence of true individuality

A pro-individual is someone who celebrates diversity, but beyond that uniqueness. A person is truly unique when no comparison, proof nor evidence of any kind are needed to confirm their credibility. Am I the only one thinking that?

Unique individuals simply exist on their own in a tolerant and non-threatening community of other individuals. We can share and contribute to each other through genuine differences.

Imagine a celebration of differences, not outright and upfront bigotry, prejudice and racism.

As a result, you end up feeling encouraged to express your own unique individual perspectives. That’s tolerance at its best, right? We are just different from each other, that’s all!

Live your life and let me live mine.

I’m not "selling" nor flaunting my differences, they’re just there and I celebrate yours. If we don’t have much in common, why does it have to turn into a problem? Have a great life, and find someone you do have more in common if that's what you want.

In France? Forget it, tolerance is so limited or quasi absent it has been an incredible wake-up call for us. We took liberty and individuality for granted as Americans living in America.

America IS great, France is just old and tired.

Sorry for provoking your sense of humor :) but man, is it old here. I do appreciate the beauty of an eleven century cathedral or the magnificence of the Chambord castle. But, to watch and listen to people think and act like Charlemagne is still their king belongs in a sitcom.

Europe is tribal and tactile

All tribes are very strict and their laws are rooted in the past. The tribe or family always moves slower than an individual or a couple. The clan is also unaware and ruled by a tribal leader — the famous Father figure. The tribe never likes individuals and anything new is considered threatening. The US is the only country and system entirely based on individuality and collectivity. It is under attack! Hence, the major political clashes we are experiencing.

Individuality grows through empowerment

Contrary to the tribe, the collective grows through visual constructs such as the internet, television, movies, sharing ideas, books, blogs, etc. Europe will never become individual in our lifetime. America cannot regress to tribal law under any circumstance. Individual freedom is the key to its extraordinary success and survival.

The very idea of an America is under attack by tribal propaganda. In so many countries, including France, one person (usually the President or government) rules all. It keeps the population chained to old ways with heavy restrictions. For instance, there is no such thing as revolving credit in France. Your credit card (also your debit card) is attached to the balance of your checking account, with no credit line or overdraft. Another interesting fact is that you cannot withdraw more than €300 from your bank account without a written permission from the Central Bank explaining why you need the funds.

Tribal constructs and rituals keep everyone within the tribe close by — subdued and in psychological or financial chains.

Tribe is mainly concerned with survival, rules and laws, while the individual and the collective are interested in empowerment and sharing. Commerce and trading developed outside of the tribe in our history. Without individuals and their achievements, as well as their creative innovations, we would still be in the trees picking berries...and you know what else.

Bye-bye spirituality

Without feeling like quoting any great bald or long-bearded sage up in the sky or on the ground, life is but a temporary illusion. If you have not been to a cemetery lately, you owe it to yourself to pay a visit because that’s where intolerance lives on.

Religion and politics divide people into factions through belief systems and dogmas. Once your side is picked, childish backstabbing begins.

In my view, belonging to any ideology, only brings pain. It all ends up in the cemetery.

I respect the dying process. Can you imagine De Gaulle, Churchill or Washington still our presidents? I imagine Washington would be kind of cool, pointing out where the American experiment has developed a few issues. Yet, in France De Gaulle is by far the most respected and quoted figure on television today — every day — it’s extraordinary.

Ignorant minds hijack awareness

Some insights are needed into the differences between awareness and consciousness. Consciousness does not necessarily lead to awareness. In the words of a truly gifted friend in Spain, he wrote: “It is rather fortunate that there are two very distinct terms in English to describe what actually are two completely different mechanisms. Consciousness is not awareness. In most European languages, there is only one single term for both awareness and consciousness, which speaks volumes for the lack of awareness in conscious human beings.”

I find it extraordinarily fascinating that a people (the French) with no word for awareness in their language and therefore no capacity to develop it, can still pretend to matter.

The Power of the Word

The power of the word is a key to understanding ourselves and the world. In order to have meaning, things must haven names. It is astounding to realize that what does not have a name does not exist in our world.

Things or ideas with no word cannot survive the Maya of civilization. If it wants to survive this unprecedented age we are confronted with, it is crucial for France to Americanize itself, i.e. to bring some true spirit to itself from the only country in the world that, despite its extremes and imperfections, actually practices tolerance and individualism.

Blame is an institution

The spiritual master speaks: you have to be crazy not to be yourself but blame and being yourself are not compatible.

Blame is an institution and, in my view, at the origin of sin.

Blame and guilt are in love. Once in a while or on weekends, they bring an occasional lover by the name of fear. If everyone lived their own life and minded their own business, there would be no racism and you would not have to be told that it’s bad or wrong — we know racism is disgusting! If you knew yourself and lived your life fully, there would be no time for blame or racism.

I have always understood that a truly challenged individual has no time for miserable thinking, like someone training for the Olympics coming up in six months—do you really think they have time to mess around? If you are idle and unchallenged, you cannot train for the Olympics of Awareness or Tolerance.

In France, there are staggering amounts of rules and laws but no natural flow or authentic demonstration of self-expression – another word that does not exist in French.

Everyone in France wants to be King

A fundamental difference between France and the USA is that everyone in France wants to be king, while everyone in the US wants to be rich and successful. This vast yet humorous generalization is much more subtle that one might think. Hierarchical verticality is the way of life in France. “The boss, the chief or the head of the department” are what most everyone respects and aspires to be.

Since the French revolution, France never came out of the political splits that have diminished its spirit and power in the world, year by year without fail. Don’t forget it is history that made France and of course the Clergy — France ruled the world for centuries!

Politics is everything in France

Politics is everything in France. It blinds everyone and makes people dull and tense. The integrity of its national identity and its survival is melded with politics. Ideology was the pride of its people. The famous French philosopher, Auguste Comte, said it brilliantly: in France, the dead still govern the living.

In the West, identification with societal values, politics, philosophy and religion are slowly but surely becoming old relics of the past. Institutions are crumbling down.

Individual authority is the “new authority”; there can be no other.

In the very near future, institutions will no longer be able to deliver on their promises. We have arrived at the age of the individual, regardless of whatever morals, beliefs and ideologies are still in place.

The new challenge is the search for an inner resonance to yourself and to the whole. Relinquishing authority to failing institutions or shady ideologues is no longer sustainable, practical and healthy.

The age of the individual

Individual authority must become a near absolute. There has never been an opportunity like this in the history of man, at least since recorded history. In order to say “no” to being controlled, one must realize that control has moved inside our DNA. Hence, how saying NO must come from within.

To release oneself from the shackles of fear, one must undertake a deep transformation of the way one thinks about the world. One must think in terms of oneself first. It can be called "awakened selfishness" as a friend of mine put it. It is an awareness that renounces any form of false control, authority and oppression from outside.

Note: these writings are essays in intuitive awareness offered as creative musings. Science uses intuition to establish new paths of inquiry and advance possible theories. I favor a philosophical exploration through my own intuition rather than fit-all reasoning. I see myself as a traveling mystic and an emotional spirit, filtering universal consciousness in the now. I am the witness of a great cosmic joke playing with my being inside the even greater mystery of life.

Philippe Stonebeck

“My Spirit has Ways of Seeing that my Mind cannot Comprehend.”


Philippe Stonebeck

I write to inspire people to walk their unique path with transformative insights into self-knowledge. My goal is to continue teaching essential skills for performance, self-expression and communication so as to empower the individual path.

Receive stories by Philippe Stonebeck in your feed
Philippe Stonebeck
Read next: The Evening News at 666

Find us on social media

Miscellaneous links

  • Explore
  • Contact
  • Privacy Policy
  • Terms of Use
  • Support

© 2021 Creatd, Inc. All Rights Reserved.