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Saturday, September 26, 2009

France as Hexagon

We have already seen how Napoleon's regime reorganized France according to Enlightenment principles in order to impose a more rational order upon nature. We have interpreted this as a great chessboard and have linked it to the destruction of traditional regions in order to facilitate trade and commerce through homogenization. It linked imperial, cultural and revolutionary ideals with science and measurement.

Being more or less agnostic in all our ventures, we began to doubt ourselves.

Then we came across this map on the Strange Maps blog, provided by Valéry Didelon.


"Squaring the circle is a proverbial way of describing something impossible. Jacques-Guillaume Thouret set himself an even more daunting task: squaring the hexagône – in French, that word is shorthand for describing the roughly six-sided shape of France."

"Thouret (1746-1794) was born into a bourgeois family in the French département of Calvados. Back then, in the Ancien Régime, there was no such territorial unit. The area was still part of the old province of Normandy. It was Thouret himself who instigated the change from provinces to the new system, still en vogue today."

"The French Revolution also entailed a revolution of measurements. The revolutionaries were obsessed with standardising, and replaced traditional, often regionally variable measurements with a universal metric system. Sometimes the changes proved to be a bridge too far: the revolutionary calendar was abolished after only a few years; and Thouret’s square départements – reminiscent of the rectangular methods of the Land Ordinance Survey [LoS!] in the US (see post #120) ... – never made it off the drawing board."


Now dig the official French explanation of the Hexagon.

"Centralisation is a feature of the organisation and management of France that goes back to the monarchy."

"Even the French Revolution did not dismantle this structure. Indeed it accentuated it."

"In the name of equality, provincial features were repressed, including regional languages."

"In 1792, the provinces were replaced by départements....This egalitarian treatment has been maintained, even after regions were created much later, and French people feel at least as much attachment to their département as to their province and its traditions."

"This concept of equality is combined with a strictly hierarchical management of the whole country. Each level has specific responsibilities within a hierarchy."

According the Wikipedia

"Like squares and equilateral triangles, regular hexagons fit together without any gaps to tile the plane (three hexagons meeting at every vertex), and so are useful for constructing tessellations. The cells of a beehive honeycomb are hexagonal for this reason and because the shape makes efficient use of space and building materials."

So as Thouret tessellated France, France itself becomes one more tile in the larger mosaic, towards and ever-expanding macrocosm. Think Risk, Imperialism and the acquisition of land. Think of Europe; the currency's in place, but the old regions will die hard.

France has a vision of itself and its place in the world at large aligned with Napoleon's imperial ambitions. This is inherent in it's omnipresent symbolism. It would seem, though, that absent any significant military and philosophical dominance, it would garner this influence via Science, Technology and Commerce. It allies itself mystically with geometry and mythically with its founding dynasty. The hexagon is the central unit of the bee's hive, and the bee was the symbol of the Merovingians. Napoleon had himself painted wearing ermine adorned with golden bees.

Napoleon.org has this to say:

"Symbol of immortality and resurrection, the bee was chosen so as to link the new dynasty to the very origins of France."

Another article asserts:

"Napoleon was initiated, passed and raised into an Army Philadelphe Lodge of the Ecossais Primitive Rite of Narbonne between 1795 and 1798. Considering Napoleon’s interest in things Egyptian, his reason for adoption of the bee symbol can only be a subject of supposition."

The article goes on to insist that his use of the bee had no link with Freemasonry, which uses the beehive as a symbol of discipline, order and industry.

We would posit that there is a link, but that this not be read as wild-eyed conspiracy theory. Our recent posts, however, can elucidate this better than yet another repetition.

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