steep them in this negative pole


Senior Member
link:page 29

Michelet By Jules Michelet, Roland Barthes
One might say it is something like the nomenclature put at the head of a good recipe: take a little Champagne, a little Picadie, a little Normandie, Anjou, and Beauce,stir them around a central core, the ile-de-France, steep them in this negative pole, and you will have the superative nation of Europe: France. This is what Michelet has done; once the elements are enumerated,described, weighed , judged, he has posited the principle of their mixture:thanks to that very special polarity which has surrounded the negative centre of France with a belt of marches,i.e., of positive (hence incomplete) Frances, France is merely an infinite Chemical action, it exists only in that void sustained by the very arrangements of its parts.

Is 'this negative pole' a figurative speech of what?
  • suzi br

    Senior Member
    English / England
    There is some sort of extended mataphor about polarity and science, perhaps like the way parts of a chemical molecule circle the cental part, but my science / understanding of France is not able to decode it further.

    Unless you really HAVE to read this I would advise finding easier texts to study!


    Senior Member
    English - England
    I would add that the French word pole has a sense of "centre for a particular type of human activity". The English word "pole" is not commonly used in this sense. I suppose then that "negative pole" is a literal translation of a pun that works better in French than in English.

    As suzi says, we also have to understand Michelet's understanding of science to fully know what he means.
    "A cathode is an electrode through which electice current flows out of a polarized electrical device... Cathode polarity is not always negative ..."
    There seems then to be in science a traditional (or historical?) association between
    - a "negative" pole (cathode) and movement away from that pole, and
    - a "positive" pole (anode) and movement towards that pole.
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