The French tradition offers a great deal to Distraction, of course: Matisse, Proust, Bourdieu, to say nothing of the Gallic influence on Nietzsche, Kazantzakis and Henry James (all of whom get a guernsey in my book).
And French politics and thought are, in many ways, the backdrop of modernity itself: from Enlightenment and Revolution to the age of Derrida and the postmodern.
But more than anything, my conversation with Daniele exemplifies a much older philosophical ideal: the cosmopolitan thinker, whose home is the world (to borrow the Stoic maxim). It's a wonderful reminder: that despite nationality, ethnicity and political affiliation, we can participate in a greater commonwealth of concepts and impressions.
And this is at the heart of Distraction. If we are 'born into a limited situation,' as Goethe put it, we can still aspire to transcend our roots; we can reach beyond our biases and eccentricities, to a wider conception of life.
Put another way, our identity needn't distract us from the richness of history, or the ferment of distant ideas.