Ze French Coronavirus Chronicles, 9

Ze French Coronavirus Chronicles, 9

 

How can people binge?

When I watched Stranger Things, it was one episode a day. The pleasure came from waiting for the next one. Also from… digesting each one, right?

In a restaurant, I take my time, I sip wine and I talk. I don’t eat everything in 5 minutes!

I was the type of kid who takes his time to eat the ice-cream, not the one who gobbles it down (gobble down or up?) in ten seconds.

I just watched Carnival Row, one episode a day. It’s very finely written, and it’s a joy to think and wait and assimilate the developements…

Yesterday, I began Tales from the Loop, calm, mysterious, different, elegant.

 

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Things to read if you’re bored but like it here :

https://afrenchtoolbox.wordpress.com/category/chronicle/

 

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There’s a Z movie named Piranhaconda – I watched the trailer, that was enough, right? I IMDBd it to find out many, many others low budget movies about stupid monsters (often with a shark, by the way). There’s a shark-octopus, a sharkenstein, a tornado of sharks, that was a very fun hour to explore this!

 

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I remember the lukewarm winds of June. I’m 15 and the few last weeks of school year break something in me. Air’s warm, the sky is curiously blank, white, lukewarm, dazzling, boring. An emptiness. Cotton, sad cotton. With the climate change, this weathermood is here today, in April.

 

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There were an interesting row of articles about social medias and how they put one in a “bubble” where we only read people who think like us. You can google “online social media bubble” to find examples.

NBC : “Seeing conflicting opinions in your feed causes psychological discomfort : not seeing them creates a warped reality.”

  1. It seems it can be caused by ourselves : we thumb along our feeds and purge it from imbeciles (“How could I follow that?”) – which are mainly those who don’t think like us politically 🙂
  2. But I also read about algorithms : medias want you to be pleased, therefore they want to show you.

I should dig and brook the idea (can I say that?) that I’m probably like everybody affected by that.

(I’m a little intrigued by the verb “to brook” – what’s the difference with “to bear”? How to use it?)

Also, I regularly follow and explore feeds of people on Twitter, fascinated. Exploring Twitter with hashtags is a good exercise. I did it with #floridamorons today, reading the both sides, detecting complexities…

 

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So I just finished Bill Bryson’s “One Summer: America, 1927”, a crazy year for sure, meeting prohibition, Lindbergh and Babe Ruth, Rushmore mont and Ford, Sacco & Vanzetti…

Wiki says Bryson “helps the reader to understand life and the universe as integrated wholes and yet simultaneously as variegated collections of details.”.

Interesting and hilarious at times, it’s also a bit bitter, because the end of the books tells us how all these people died one by one, decade after decade. Life sounds sometimes really like a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury. You read about all these people and their acts, and hop, six feet under. Made me think a lot.

And oh, these unbelievable presidents before Roosevelt !

That put me in front of that : I can tell things about US presidents after the war (and remember things – I was born in 66), but nothing before Roosevelt. There begins a dark blurry territory : Hoover, Coolidge, Harding…

So now I’m reading a classic : Allsop’s The Bootleggers. Oh my, a crazy era! The perfect example of an idea which sounded great and had the worst consequences…

 

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I write more and more in Quora.com – in French, it changes me from here, and it’s a pleasure to share what I learned. I shoud’ve been a teacher 😉

 

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Stay safe ! Thanks for reading!

 

Ze French Coronavirus Chronicles, 8

Ze French Coronavirus Chronicles, 8

Reckless ou irresponsible?

Confinement makes us TRY to understand others. I can really get that some guys become crazy without running everyday. In some parts of France (like in Paris), it’s forbidden to jog from 10 AM to 7 PM – to provide some quietness for the rare people who have to go outside to refill the fridge. So, well, they run before, and after. Good.

I never understood runners, though I tried. Is it just a way to get outside, get some air and some change? Or a goal for health (“I’m bored running like an idiot but it’s good for my body”)? Or a drug thing : waiting for the “after” moment, when one slops down in their sofa, drowned in pleasure endorphins?

Out on the plain, running like hell

Or stupid questions about exploding domestic violence in confinement times : “How come people marry violent men? Was this inner trait really invisible at the time?”. Yeah, I suppose, and I shut up.

Questions, questions. What about these three Types?

  • The first is the proud strong halfwit hammerhead, standing on “Nobody tells me what to do!”.
  • The two is the young moronic featherhead, vaguely laughing, partying all night in crowds.
  • The three is the exhilarated religious boss, “God protects us from coronavirus” (with the help of certain psalms, probably). Churchurlishness…

Then death comes around. With this disease, you just drown, suffocated. It’s the sad concept of “too late regret”. It’s universal, in all countries.

Empathically, trying to understand people. It’s a discipline!

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To write this I had big laughs with the English synonyms of “idiot” (adjective or noun). I get the nuances (in violence or funnyness), but I really don’t know about chucklehead, goon, halfwit or schmuck. I guessed about the rustic countryside colors of oaf, yokel, lout. But what about bungler, klutz, simpleton or churl? Words are linked with bad manners, others with ungainliness or ways of sitting.

When one ESL like me begins to dig into a vocabulary field, even a funny field like this one, there’s a feeling of terrible loss : I know nothing!

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Yesterday I watched Episode 2 of Carnival Row, with pen and paper – in English with English subs. In less than an hour, I wrote unknown nuggets : aught, lively, hoof, ghastly, quackery, snug, squander, shuddering, passerby, beget, shrine, pall, to preen.

Pfff !

Then I search : aught in “For aught I know!”, lively in an order : “Now go!”, hoof for the foot of horse but also as a verb (the GREAT “She had a flat tire, she had to hoof it to work”), and if ghastly is dreadful or horrible, what’s the difference?, and is snug comfortable or tight-fitting (positive or negative radioactivity?), and squander and waste? Is a pall a coffin? What’s that interesting verb, to pall (a domain, a person?), or to cast a pall over? Etc, etc.

I love it, but it’s exhausting!

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I watched Underwater (2020) – a group of scientists at the bottom of the ocean encounters creatures after an earthquake destroys their laboratory. Everybody seems to hate this movie (because it looks like Alien, or because many people hate Kristen Stewart). Stewart is great, the beginning is surprising, the monster is Cthulhu-esque, and it’s very stressful. Cons? Some strange ellipses, a so-so sense of locations, scrambled lights at times. The characters (and the way we meet them, the way they talk) are strangely realistic, it’s also a problem (we don’t know them enough, maybe). I’d give a 6/10.

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If you’re alone and not allowed to go, you have to find something to explore. Today let’s think about battles.

Interesting battles, what are they? You have to choose one, which IS an activity.

You can choose a star, like the D-Day, Austerlitz or Gettysburg. I’d choose elsewhere. Antietam or Wagram.

Then begins your researches. What’s history around? Who are the generals? The opposing forces? What about the battlefield, the terrain? Phases? Prelude? Ending? Events? Aftermath?

But also : where to find maps? What books to read? History? Remembrances (of whom : officers or soldiers?)? Where is the place today? Is there a way to go visit it? Is there a forum on the Web, where people who know this battle could help you?

There’s an editor I know : https://ospreypublishing.com/ – they have numerous leaflets about many battles.

It should get you busy for a few days…

Thanks for reading! Sorry for my English…

Stay safe!

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Fellini Roma / Sternfeld Rome after Rome

Joel Sternfeld (born 1944) is an American photographer I love. He made this book, “American Prospects”, which is maybe the greatest photography book I own!

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His last one is about Rome, he focuses “on the ruins of grand structures”, putting these in relation with… today!

The editor says : “with a clear warning: great civilizations fall, ours may too”. Yeah, but I disagree. What I see is a continuous presence of the past, in ruins of splendid architecture, the today-reality invaded with the ordinary (people and their “things”, who seem to ignore the past). There’s no warning here, though it’s probably a little sarcastic…

Each photography has the “sense of the place”, shows a spotmood, but it’s also like a game : spotting where is the old villa, the aqueduct, weaving an ugly link between the old past and the now…

Here are some examples.

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This one is a masterpiece :

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https://www.moma.org/artists/5656

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I’m French and I can say I’m obsessed with three countries : Russia, Italy, and the USA. I’m currently finishing a long study of Fellini’s work.

Fellini’s Roma (1972) is a strange movie, let’s ask Wiki (I bolded the bold) : “It is a homage to the city, shown in a series of loosely connected episodes set during both Rome’s past and present. The plot is minimal, and the only “character” to develop significantly is Rome herself.”

Kaleidoscopic it is : a traffic jam (one of the most incredible scene I’ve seen in my life!), a guesthouse, brothels, a vaudeville theatre, streets, tunnels, catacombs, a liturgical fashion show, tourists… “The film concludes with a group of young motorcyclists riding into the city and a melancholic shot of actress Anna Magnani, whom the film crew met in the street”.

And again, the constant weaving between the past and the now, the ruins and the typical Italian “energy”, gives an interesting energy. Again, the old stones seem alive, watching us in silence…

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OK you know me : I extract a tool here, which is “In a piece of work, of art, you show two different things and you let the audience weave between both”. Where (poetry, photography, teaching, marketing)? How? What appears? What for? What do you want? Nostalgia? Denunciation? Shock? Thinking?

Have fun! Thanks for reading! Stay home!

JP

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Ze French Coronavirus Chronicles, 7

Ze French Coronavirus Chronicles, 7

 

Again, funny to see the whole planet becoming “more balanced”, and massively. Super rich sportsmen or business bosses giving up indecent money, people getting sick pay, health and other important workers being paid more… With…

…positive consequences, less noise, less pollution, less tourists, people thinking and having time, instead of running everywhere like fools.

 

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Serendipity lead me to listen to Mozart‘s 14th piano concerto, played Maria Joao Pires.

I’m a Brahms & Schubert lover, and my tendency is to walk along time, exploring other XIXth and XXth century composers. Therefore, I need to make an effort to listen to Beethoven, and even more to Mozart. I hear the clichés, I often guess “what will happen” in the music, etc.

But my experience, my love and constant exploration of Schubert today (instead of, for example, Bartok), I’m now capable of hearing some magic in the weave

 

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Watched a Blu-ray : The Leopard (1963).

The Prince of Salina, a noble aristocrat of impeccable integrity, tries to preserve his family and class amid the tumultuous social upheavals of 1860’s Sicily.

So cleverly done that it lets you in turmoil and ecstasy. Such finer points in the dialogs and acting… Masterpiece!

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After All the President’s Men (with Jason Robards) and The Leopard (with Claudia Cardinale), the next movie will be Once Upon a Time in the West (with both). I love to create chains with movies… (and it’s, like The Leopard, directed by an Italian).

Chains of Movies Wandering

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Some analysts imagine that this epidemic will change society, in these terms :

  1. De-globalization. Some things have to be decided and producted inside the country (medicine, for example).
  2. Rise of public expenses to help employment and companies.
  3. Understanding that the whole population has to have healthcare and that a country’s health system should… heal people instead of making profit.

…like some plans after WWWars, for example. Well we’ll see.

 

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I found this name : Rita Streich; here she is in the Musetta’s Waltz Song. A fascinating voice, new to me. Like coming from an old time…

 

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One can’t stop wondering WHY are there so many cruise boats in activity, knowing that “The World Health Organization declared the outbreak to be a Public Health Emergency of International Concern on 30 January 2020“.

 

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“Any port in a storm”, it’s an easy-to-understand idiom, but it’s very new to me. It contains some philosophy, right?

Maybe “might makes right”, or nécessité fait loi (necessity make law, or rules) for… what must be done must be done…

 

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Here’s a quote from Paul Valéry :

The folly of mistaking a paradox for a discovery, a metaphor for a proof, a torrent of verbiage for a spring of capital truths, and oneself for an oracle, is inborn in us.

And this one :

En matière de discussion, j’appelle adversaires honorables, ceux qui ne tiennent pas tant à “avoir raison” qu’à améliorer leur organisation d’esprit, qui preferent leur esprit à leur amour-propre.

In terms of discussion, I call honorable adversaries, those who are not so much interested in “being right” as in improving their organization of mind, who prefer their mind to their self-esteem.

 

 

Thanks for reading! Stay safe!

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In Between, a poem

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IN BETWEEN

It’s cold but warm
we walk
next to trees next to fields
My father tells me calmly
in a normal tone
he worries sick about his life
as there’s a woman
at home
(she’s fiery, insolent)
who does not exist
Not my mum
It’s day but dark, gnawing
Let’s have a walk, dad
together
in silence, but our steps
and a dog endlessly barks
muffled from a farm we don’t see
and the weeping of one lost bird
invisibly weeping but maybe just telling
something ordinary
It’s cold, but warm
I let dad think she’s real I listen
He tells me about
this unknown person
she’s strong and he feels unhappy, defenseless
he has to obey
I hum I whisper we walk
I let him I listen I watch around
we turn here now
on the mud, almost dry
along block of black trees
and in the distance colors in horizontal shades
cut immobile clouds
It’s cold, but warm
There, a first house
the village!
Let’s go home, dad
I take his arm in the dark, we’re on the road
We follow the street along
windows glimmer
Before the door he stops
and stares at my eyes