Simply put, Clotaire Rapaille puts out some fascinating theories about how people, countries and cultures work. So fascinating in fact, that I don’t care if it’s wrong.
What is the book anyway? In its essential, barebones form, the author takes a concept (love, food, work, alcohol) and explains how a culture (mostly the American, where he’s based) sees it. So the code for health might be movement, while doctors might be heroes and nurses moms. He argues that the culture as a whole sees the concept through those glasses, and anyone trying to market any product would be silly to go against the codes.
Now, I’m not American. My experience with America has been limited to the internet and the countless Americans I’ve met abroad. But in many ways, the codes he suggests seemed to ring a bell. Not only that, but it got me to think much more about how I myself see each of those things, how they were imparted by my culture and how much I’ve been influenced by the places I’ve lived in over the years.
What I found particularly fascinating is the small section he dedicated to telling his background in moving to the USA from France. He had his “American” ideals and went against much of the French culture codes. When arriving in the US, he met more French people and couldn’t help but ask himself if they were really French; they were seeing things through American glasses.
It’s never been a secret that I don’t feel at home in the country I was born; that makes me wonder, have I always had a more European culture code? How can some people diverge so strongly from the norm?
As I said in the start, I care little about how right or wrong his ideas are. This book stimulated my thinking in a big way, and ultimately, that’s what books should do. I’m happy it helped me rebuild my habit, if nothing else.