Tribute to our friend Catherine David, by Laurent Joffrin

At the heart of the “Roaring Seventies”, she cut through life like an “Easy Rider” heroine, ofHair” or “Zabriskie Point”, attracting attention, magnetizing hearts and ridiculing the machos, a sure friend, an ironic intellectual and a sylph greedy for knowledge, with her cascading blond hair, her light smile and her repartee worthy of Woody Allen. On the Californian beaches, in the bookshops of Saint-Germain or the bars of Formentera, she was a radiant muse of post-68, speaking psychoanalysis and pop culture, fashion and structuralism, new age and oriental philosophy.

Studies at Sciences-Po and the Sorbonne, a talent as a pianist, a Jewish French father, an American and Catholic mother, a traveling soul, a passion for cosmopolitan reading, serious frivolity, a pleasure in life: she entered naturally to the “Nouvel Observateur” (which became “L’Obs” in 2014), the left-wing newspaper which annoyed the left almost as much as the right, after a stint at Gallimard, temple of good taste, and at Jean-Jacques Pauvert, privateer of editing.

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Jean Daniel and Claude Perdriel wanted an intellectual and sensual journal, a relevant brilliance, an alliance of intelligence and hedonism: it is in its place. She recounts the human sciences, then at the height of their prestige, questions writers and academics for candid interviews, reports on the release of books and the life of ideas with an elegant pen.

Eclectic passions

With Jean-Paul Enthoven, another critic of the newspaper, erudite and refined, she forms a literary couple with a glamorous look from which will be born a philosopher and polemicist son with a very media-friendly future, Raphaël, who knew how to make fruitful the talents inherited from this family with gifts multiple. She then shares the life of Isi Beller, renowned psychoanalyst and creator of the semiophonic method for children affected by language disorders, with whom she has a daughter, Judith, as radiant as her mother.

Always the twists and turns of knowledge… His passions are eclectic, from music to tai-chi-chuan, from philosophy to hybrid disciplines, at the frontiers of science and spirituality. His books bear the mark, a brilliant variation on movement (la Beauté du geste), an essay on Simone Signoret, a cheerful biography of Pic de la Mirandole, the man of all knowledge, and several volumes of interviews with Stephen Jay Gould, Jean Delumeau, Hubert Reeves or Christiane Desroches Noblecourt.

Such an itinerary could have composed an irritating, Germanopratin character, floating above ordinary mortals in the limbo of thought and intellectual-chic worldliness. Catherine was quite the opposite, a good friend, living in simplicity and camaraderie, cultivating the art of being a grandmother, in laughter and vigilant attention, until illness set her back from the world, the great affliction of his loved ones. “L’Obs” loses the one who was a pioneer of the journalism of ideas; his family and his friends, a presence full of finesse and comfort.

Tribute to our friend Catherine David, by Laurent Joffrin