I See France

– Proverb / Saying

Celui qui fume est celui qui voit

The one that smokes is the one that sees

He who smokes is he who sees

Informant Analysis:

“In France we love to smoke.  Many uhh people can be found smoking tobacco.  However, it is … uhh how do you say… common to mix weed with the tobacco when rolling. In France we call this a spliff.  But we smoke it in a different way then you do in America.  In France, we take our time with it.  Here, I have seen that Americans are rushed when smoking.  They take two puffs and then pass it.  In France, we chill with it.  You can smoke as long as you want.  There is a saying in France about marijuana.  It goes, celui qui fume est celui qui voit.  In English this means, he who smokes is he who sees.  It refers to … more to uhhh … philosophy… Smoking, how do you say, opens your mind?  You are in touch with the world. You see things in a new way.” (D.B.)

Personal Analysis:

It seems that cannabis is often associated with philosophy in some way.  Upon consumption of this plant, brain activity is in some way altered.  This change can psychologically alter one’s thinking.  The French saying that the informant alluded to clearly points to this alteration as a philosophical enhancement.  I must agree with the informant in regards to his analysis of what the item means.  The usage of any psychedelic, such as cannabis, can enhance any number of conceptions and activities.  However, this particular substance appears to often effect one’s perceptions of existence and being.  This may be why some religions utilize the plant for meditation purposes.  This saying therefore becomes reminiscent of a legend in that it invites discussion as to whether it is true or not.

Similar examples of this topic can be seen throughout American pop culture.  The television show, Entourage, for example contains an episode in the first season entitled, the Script and the Sherpa.  In this episode, Val Kilmer makes a guest appearance as a pot growing Sherpa.  After consuming an exuberant amount of cannabis, he delivers a strange philosophical monologue in which he states, “The Earth is moving. Did you feel that? Everything. All the time. Dimensions we can’t even see. Everything is evolving.”  Thus, at least in this particular example, it is clear that cannabis may enhance one’s philosophical viewpoints.

However, before alluding to this French saying, the informant relayed a few other unique points.  The most interesting being his critique of the way Americans smoke “spliffs”.  In his short time spent in US, he was quick to observe the “puff puff pass” dynamic exhibited by American smokers.  It seems he felt unaccustomed and almost rushed by this seemingly petty ritual, as in his country, there is no set standard for how long one should smoke.  However, this ritual is an inherent component of the American smokers’ “etiquette”. Clearly this courtesy has yet to diffuse across the Atlantic.

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