JS Bach’s Cantata is confusing about Joy & Ordeal

This article is about the meaning of a sentence in Bach’s Cantata, and the different ways it is translated (from German to French or English), and what it can bring us about how the ways we deal with life.

I woke up a little disoriented by an obsessive, dense nightmare telling me in details that my life was really losing its cohesion. A mess like “having books but not knowing why any more”, “fearing the loss of purpose”, “falling sick but this time it won’t end well”, or “I’ll have to work a lot, without being sure it’s useful, to understand the fragments, the scales of my life” : terrible!

I sat on my bed, in need of a big coffee, happy to realize it was only a nightmare, watching a grey quiet queasy luminous sky, thinking about this little irony of life we all know :

When you work, it’s sunny, when you’re off, it rains.

56e602b3aabfbc0daf0d55e3c9b6c7d7--far-side-cartoons-far-side-comics.jpg

We all have this feeling of the irony of life, with all the shades. Murphy’s Laws (“Anything that can go wrong will go wrong”) are often hilarious to read. If France we sometime call it “LEM”, La Loi de l’Emmerdement Maximum, or “The Law of the Maximum Merdation”, which will make sense to everyone, oui?

But eventually it begins to hit harder. It deals with failure, love break-ups, losing job, or even death. I’ll tell you this true story.

Before WWII, a young upper class lady fell in love in France with a simple employee. Her family prevented her to marry the young man and arranged a more “proper” marriage. She had to accept it, I suppose. But decades later, in the 80s, her husband died, and then the unwealthy guy’s wife too. They were old, but happy : they fell back in love, lived this love, got married… and he died very soon.

I remembered this story because every member of her family kept telling her “Stop crying, you had a great life!”. So she stopped crying. And a week later was in hospital in emergency : her legs had tripled volume. Diagnostic : “Water Retention”.

10571958_695527230515375_6487575816464878050_o.jpg

For the next part of this article I have to say that I’m don’t believe in any “God”. Nevertheless, faith inspired humans some great Art, right?

 

Johann Sebastian Bach wrote a Cantata “for the Feast of Visitation of Mary” (BWV 147) which is well known for the end : “Jesus bleibet meine Freude“.

This last part is very well known by the title “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring”  – I just added the YouTube link under this paragraph – but it’s been translated to “sound better” : “Jesus bleibet meine Freude” is more like :Jesus shall remain my gladness“.

(I found also : Jesus remains my joy, Jesus stays my source of gladness, Jesus shall remain my joy).

Here’s the paragraph :

Jesus remains my joy,
the comfort and life’s blood of my heart,
Jesus defends me against all sorrows,
he is my life’s strength,

Why?

Bach, the year he composed the music, suffered the loss of two of his children. Johann August Abraham died the day after he was born, and a bit later Regina Johanne, who was 4 years old, died too.

I suppose that in the XVIIIth Century even more than now, you really can write things like “Jesus remains my joy”. The use of “remains” tells something about “I have to stay strong, I decide to be”.

362975.jpg

The French translation is wrong too. We say here : “Jésus, que ma joie demeure”, which means something a bit different : “Jesus, may my joy remains”.

  • The English and German are a statement : “Jesus remains my joy”
  • The French is a prayer, a supplication : “Jesus, may my joy remains”

 

You’ll notice that it is not either “Jesus, give me joy”, or even “help me”, but more “Allow my joy to keep existing”… 

 

This difference between a statement and a plea in the form of “Please allow” is fascinating enough to keep some of us thinking for a day. It’s different, but also so similar. Both tell us about the will to stay strong…

I’d summerize this all with this question :

What do we do against ordeal?

 

This is the longest article I ever wrote! Thanks for reading my Frenchy English!

Jean-Pascal

PS : You can maybe, also, read this : Amor Fati (and Sequere Deum).

 

photo.jpg

 

Ways of evolving

C’est très intéressant, l’idée du développement de l’enfant (see, you almost can read French!). Child development is interesting to study :

  • Physical growth
  • Motor
  • Cognitive/intellectual
  • Social-emotional
  • Language and communication

In fact, when you have a baby and you see his/her evolution, it’s really like you could notice the upgrades!

When we grow adult, there are phases when we develop too. Most of them are inevitable, linked to aging, divorce or bereavement. The loss puts you forward, to evolve.

But there are also more positive, inner development processes. Stages of life, meeting interesting personalities, love, new hobbies : we grow, even at 40, at 50, etc.

How to evolve? You can, like a tree :

  • Develop an aspect of yourself you already know, like growing a new branch on the tree.
  • Rotate, make a more complete change.
  • Invent a branch, or a root in the soil.
  • Displacement, like changing country.
  • Discover an atrophied part of you which needs care, a Face B.
  • Find your “big less“, find something you won’t do any more.

 

What does it mean? Can it be frightening? If you change too much, what about the system you live in (family)? What are the resistance to change (in you/outside)?

What will you do?

What are the verbs you need? Insist? Dare? Cut? Listen?

Thanks for reading!

2seccge-1.jpg

Changing the past is a cool way to be mean

Changing the past is a cool way to be mean!

Imagine you are with an ex-lover. You have a good opportunity to be nasty-bitchy! Of course, you don’t love each other anymore, these things happen all the time, right? No big deal.

But you can add something today, with the help of words :

Change the past!

(OK, in fact you will NOT change the past, it’s not really something you can do, right?)

You just have to tell your ex that… what you lived together was : (here, you have many possibilities : “fake”, “a lie”, “wrong”, “difficult”, “a mistake”, etc).

What you lived was great, at the time, you know it, OK? You showed it and lived it, and you said it too. Now : you just say the contrary, change the past, say you were “incompatible”, or that you “faked it”, etc… You’ll find your way. She just has to understand that she disappointed you.

Of course, this has no other purpose than to be mean, OK?

The consequences are cool : 

  • You ex will have a painful moment of doubt, like “OMG maybe he’s right, it was faked, all incompatibility and blindness”.
  • Then she’ll be hurt by the fact that she could really live all this love story like an illusion.
  • Then she’ll be hurt by the loss of good memories, which will now turn into bitterness. “OH then it was not true??!”.
  • Then, after a while, she’ll remember, she’ll realize that, well, “we were probably REALLY happy”, then she’ll be hurt to realize that her ex told her that… to be mean.
  • Then she’ll be more hurt to try to understand WHY this ex-lover would like to be this mean to her…

Whatever : you reached your goal.

Almost.

Because, well, there’s probably some gold left, in her heart. She knows. And, by Jove!, it was a cool love story!

Well, you can now add some points by talking about how cool is your life now. Without her, of course. Justifies the means. This works pretty well.

The other part (changing the past) does not work for a long time. Gold is there, has been discovered, and no magic (but death) can kill the gold. She already forgave him. She is grateful. Love is a good energy, after all, right?

Thanks for reading!

 

IMG_1586.jpg

 

 

Mutation Process can’t be stopped

There are a few ways of changing. The development of a child is a good example.

As an adult, getting some maturity is a process. We change, we grow up. Cool!

There are other processes, though…

You can go to another territory. Imagine you change country : emigration. The change comes from outside, then… you change!

You can imitate a life, a person. Imitate something. You do “as if”. You’ll probably learn from that.

Identification is another thing. More linked to feelings. It’s deeper…

And this : mutation. Changes include another way of living. You are suddenly haunted by something, a way of living, a way of feeling. You’re enveloped. You mutate…

I’m sure you can’t stop this one. It’s new. You have new wings. Your eyes have changed. You’re not the same anymore, forever. You mutated. You’re another person, and you know more. You can’t, you won’t go back. Now you’re different.

If you move, if you imitate, you can go back to yourself. But the mutation process can’t be reversed.

It means many things : What will you do? What will happen? Tell me : what does it mean? How will this evolve? Can you do something? What example do you have? What did you learn?

Do you realize mutation is not only “growing”? It’s changing… in the deep.

How was it for you? What now?

 

Thanks for reading!

1480841119792612067_4066914012.jpg

Light a fire under my fantasy flaw : Words VS Action

This article was triggered by a friend in the USA, telling me that many men from other countries asked her to visit (all this linked to love and attraction, etc…), but… “Who takes a plane to visit ME?”.

I read many interviews of filmmakers, who love to write stories and scenarios, and like to work for days on the editing process, but these directors hate shooting because it’s a compromise of their script – or at least they find it boring and complicated. You’re surrounded by a huge team who spend their time to fix problems, right? With actors who are fragile, lost, or complicated. They know they HAVE TO do it, though.

I think I’m this kind of guy. This is a flaw, and this is bad. I tend to live in a fantasy world. I like ideas, books, and metaphors. I like to say “Let’s keep it a dance”, but I don’t propose real tango lessons. I fantasize about traveling but I don’t even have a passport! I’d love to visit Luca (Italy), Yalta (Ukraine), or Petaluma (California)… and I don’t even have a car.

I’m not a doer, I’m not a strong person, I’m a dreamer and we dreamers tend to overthink instead of moving our asses. I know it can be felt as a betrayal by action people…

I should light a fire under my ass (ohh these American idioms with the word “ass”) but I don’t and won’t. Somebody could light it for me, but that’s lazy to easy to say that, right? And if I don’t move it could hurtburn my bottom, poor me! Condemned to stand up for the rest of my life…

Nevertheless, I think that you could find a sidekick lover, a partner who likes your conversation and dreaming capacities (fair’s fair), who settles in, takes their place next to you, not to become an engine or a pusher, which would be exhausting, but who knows you well enough to guess when to trigger this lever they know about. A single well placed sentence and a dreamer can become a strong action happy man. Tadaaaa.

OK, too easy, and lazy, right? It was probably…

…a dream 🙂

Have a nice day!

(Fair’s fair… I like this one!)

1515890996667078044_40270600.jpg

Both Sides NOW

I begin this article with this fascinating song by Joni Mitchell, Both Sides Now. The singer wrote it when she was very young, and I find interesting that she, with great maturity, talks about both sides of life, like… knowing the disillusions of life before they really come…

One of the little “structures” of my blog is made of this : if there’s a side A, I’m interested immediatly in the side B (means : the contrary of the other one). For example, if I read a great quote, I often wonder if there’s another one saying the contrary.

But, also :

I like to imagine a third path. Something “outside the box”.

After Side A or Side B, one of the good game is to imagine a third side using BOTH. Maybe I hate choices, so when I have to choose between two things, I often choose both of them. So there! Voilà ! Et toc !

We are constantly moving, mutating, changing, chasing things. We are like inventive machines, mutable engines, trying to connect to reality, to… grapes of possibilities. Labels don’t work : they fall. We just fear boredom, which is death.

Being mature, but also keeping having “new eyes” for things. Steady, but unpredictable. Writing a lot, but casually. Weaving opposites in an interesting braid. Being INTJ but also INFJ (feeling, but thinking). Being visual, but with words. Understanding that action needs to dare, but knowing that it’s OK to wait. That you have to be positive, but accept your part of shadow. That in front of a problem there are many ways to choose from. For self help, I’ll always look for the “It’s always more complex” books. Baking two cakes is often the solution. We are fast, but we are slow. We are smart, but sometimes idiots. We watch Marvel movies, and also Kurosawa. We read Deleuze’s philosophy books, and also Peanuts. We want to live !

It’s a real trait. You have it too, right? Or… Maybe I’m too French? Tell me.

Have a great day!

cropped-img_567512.jpg

Photography : Dieppe in Normandy

 

Both Sides Now
Joni Mitchell
Rows and flows of angel hair
And ice cream castles in the air
And feather canyons everywhere
I’ve looked at clouds that way
But now they only block the sun
They rain and snow on everyone
So many things I would have done
But clouds got in my way
I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now
From up and down and still somehow
It’s cloud’s illusions I recall
I really don’t know clouds at all
Moons and Junes and ferries wheels
The dizzy dancing way you feel
As every fairy tale comes real
I’ve looked at love that way
But now it’s just another show
You leave ’em laughing when you go
And if you care, don’t let them know
Don’t give yourself away
I’ve looked at love from both sides now
From give and take and still somehow
It’s love’s illusions I recall
I really don’t know love at all
Tears and fears and feeling proud,
To say “I love you” right out loud
Dreams and schemes and circus crowds
I’ve looked at life that way
But now old friends they’re acting strange
They shake their heads, they say I’ve changed
Well something’s lost, but something’s gained
In living every day.
I’ve looked at life from both sides now
From win and lose and still somehow
It’s life’s illusions I recall
I really don’t know life at all
I’ve looked at life from both sides now
From up and down, and still somehow
It’s life’s illusions I recall
I really don’t know life at all

Readiness & Availability VS Habits & Goals

Just seeds, ideas. Fight them. Or dance.

The habit pulls apart : you know something so much that you’re cut from it. The force of habit separates you from things.

The goal you’re staring at… can cut you from what’s happening now, next to you. Each time you say “I must”, maybe you lose something.

Whitehead says : “We think in generalities, but we live in detail

Readiness & Availability, these are two English words I love together. Habits, Goals and Rules, then tend to kill me. French casualness? What happens NOW?

You can read : The Propensity of Things

Thanks!

ll1.jpg