The Cauldron Method (or How to Be Casual with Masterpieces)

OK I’m french. My english is a frenglish, it’s rusty and wobbly, et voilà. Try me, though. I’ll do my best. I promise. If sometimes it’s too bad, just laugh at me or roll your eyes.

In front of impressive masterpieces you can find yourself very SHY. It happened to me a few years ago with La Recherche, by Proust : In Search of Lost Time, a pack of seven big books, you know, MMMasterpiece of Masterpieces, blabla. I bought it and never dared to begin ! How to read this ? With what kind of solemnity ? Terrifying ! (I’d add : poor you, if you have to read this in English and deal with the choice of translation).

You may also have this feeling in front of a domain you know rich, but you don’t know a penny about it. I had to handle this when I decided to open the door of the Opera territory. From where to begin ? Which composer ? Mozart ? Wagner ? Who ?

Shy as a little chicken in its shell, I began to read books about Proust. In one of them the author was angry at me. Really ! He was saying something like I was silly to be solemn about La Recherche, advising me to shup up and read what I want, in the order I want, and to let go “annoying pages” (!). It was as if a good father was talking to me, so I obeyed, and it was perfect.

After trying a little Verdi (boriiiing) I searched for the “next Italian composer”, found Puccini, and I… didn’t know what to do. Each opera was very long ! And there were many…

I remembered Proust and I tried not to worry too much : How to choose a first opera to listen to ? Director ? I began to wander randomly on YouTube and I listened to things with  little “I don’t care” ears. Of course, it worked.

I remember it in the most crystallest clearest way : Manon Lescaut was singing somewhere in my headphones as I was writing an email. The music then began to stop me. One time. Two times. Three. I had to really stop writing, like “Heyyyyy ??!”. Le plaisir was slipcrawling into my brain.

I got it ! The wire. I pulled it, and now I love Manon Lescaut, and Il Trittico, and La Bohème, etc.

Tools :

The Cauldron Method means two things :

1/ Don’t care that much about Masterpieces (with big M capital). You won’t hurt them ! These are not Cathedrals of Culture. Let go. Breathe. Find your own entrance. A lateral one. Then the kingdoms of pleasure are yours.

2/ Loosen your belt. And your tie. Be casual. The Masterpiece is probably a real one. IT WILL CATCH YOU ANYWAY.

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