Amazement & Learning : Chronicle 12

It is when you have tried and failed that you are truly able to surrender. Though you fail time and again, you continue to try until, finally, there comes a point when you accept your failure; you fully experience and understand your incapacity to move forward. It is at that point that you surrender. So keep trying. That ultimate sense of failure must come to everyone, either today or tomorrow.”

Sri Mata Anandamayi

I love this quote, which seems to say that this “surrender” is, in fact, the answer : once you reached this, you surrender, you let go : you can go on another path. Try another thing, of another “nature”.

There’s an article to write, here. “Insist until you know your fail, until you’re done”. On purpose. Then consider your other options. Which are awaiting, probably.

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I remember a great conversation about teaching. This activity is VERY interesting to think about. There are so many questions you can ask a new teacher!

Flipped classrooms, Theory of multiple intelligences, of course, but also about discipline, how you “hold” a classroom, how you watch kids, what are the differences between countries. And this : do you sometimes use “amazement” to get kids to understand, or just keep following you?

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There are some letters… I find it wise not to send them.

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Gide in his diary tells about drunk people arguing :

– “I tell you I don’t need you.”
– “Perhaps not… But you need… not to need… me.”

Thanks for reading!

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When pleasure is not in the things, but in the difference between things – Chronicle 11

“To see is to forget the names of the thing one sees.”
“Regarder, c’est oublier les noms des choses que l’on voit”
― Paul Valéry

A few days ago I was in Paris at a book marathon for professionals. Imagine rooms full of booksellers, and a parade of book companies representatives (with Powerpoint slides) lecturing them about all the “GREAT” books (about food, art, science, nature, history, whatever) which will be available before the end of the year. This for hours.

This is exhausting, but it’s also very interesting, of course. We were sometimes amazed by some splendid front covers, or by good ideas (there’s a Art coffee table book about “the last painting before they die”). It’s a bit like you, hungry book lover, when you come in a store to lurk what is “on the tables”.

Most of the representatives had only 10 minutes to talk about their stuff, before leaving the place for the next one. In the afternoon, as a part of us were in a smaller room to talk about, well, “more specialized books”, a guy came, began his lecture and we all immediately realized that… we’ve seen the same slides in the morning, presented by someone else.

I doubt it was made on purpose (but who knows?) but it was interesting and we watched it differently for many reasons :

Nobody had the heart to say him. We breathed differently like in a release of tension, like “Oh, OK, I’ve seen these”, defocusing and refocusing with casualness, along the presentation. I was playing this game which is to notice the different ways this other man was talking about the books, focusing on details the other person forgot to tell, and vice versa. When pleasure is not in the things, but in the difference between things.

Isn’t there a tool, here, for lectures, advertising, marketing, entertainment? I’m sure there is…

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Charles Juliet writes in his diary that it’s sometimes when you are at your lowest ebb that other people come to see you for help. Is it because you’re dismantled inside? Well, it’s not written on your forehead, right? Then… I don’t know. But it’s true.

 

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English words I’m struggling with :

  • Roster is a list, but for a team only? People? Can we imagine a feelings roster?
  • Unmoored are for boats, but can I use it for me? I unmoored “from” something?
  • Uphill is upward, so why there’s another word? Is it colored “difficult”?
  • Frayed is for fabric, but also stressed (for a man). Is it stressed but weak?
  • Fester, for a situation, is getting dangerous? Slow? Awkward? Rotten?
  • Uncanny is like supernatural? Weird, or great?
  • Unflinching means also “moving” or it can be “stand your ground”?
  • Gallivanting is colored by laziness or not? Pleasure? Love? Melancholy?

 

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“To see is to forget the names of the thing one sees.”, says Paul Valéry. It’s a very strong sentence, able to stop everything in me. It works for things, concepts, people, etc. Words are really dangerous. Because we eventually think they “are” the truth. Notice he said “the names”, plural.

Dance, poetry, painting and music are able to show things “between” words, when the language is not subtle enough to tell what is happening. Philosophy tells us about haecceity, which says we are constantly different, moving, trying to grip the many changes and the possibilities of life.

Beware when you think about someone with a couple of words. Dreams of reason produce monsters. We are not monsters.

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One day someone said to me :

“You live in the past & I live in the future”

Woahhhh perfect nastiness, right? Give the dog a bone! Some assertions are so absurd than you begin to take them to pieces – without saying a word, right?

We all live in the present, and that’s all. Every human being uses his memory and the past as a map to make better choices. And everyone is constantly watching the possibilities of the future. This is brain functioning…

If you’re not made of cardboard, you change, you use everything you know, you want, you propose, you desire, you are not steady, because you are… alive :

  • you watch behind
  • you watch now
  • you watch in front of you

Well, I suppose this phrase was destined to say “I’m better than you”, right?

 

By the way, what is the difference between nastiness and meanness? I suppose meanness is more calculated, nastiness more cruel and crazy? I don’t know; really…

 

Hey! Have a nice day!

 

 

“To see is to forget the names of the thing one sees.”

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Intimacy as “reading a book together” : Chronicle 10

Today I learned an english word : “Suitor“. In French we say “Un prétendant”… isn’t it a bit strange?

Immediately I wondered : is it always masculine? What would be a “female suitor”? A suitress? Nahhh…

Big Love (capitals, please) and Passion, we need to cross this in life, right? But when you become an adult you’re more interested by spending quality time together. You are quieter, you share, you think about this thing which is called : INTIMACY.

Tonight I thought about this, thanks to a New York Times article, a letter from a couple : the husband was explaining that his wife was ill and tired, just out of hospital, so he began to read books to her.

THAT is intimacy, that is love, the love I love.

Maybe I’m too French romantic, but watching an Art Book with the woman I love has been a totally tender and satisfying experience. Weirdly, I would remember these moments more than sex.

You don’t need 142 suitors. Just look for a man who is able to have a ten hours conversation with you (seems like ten minutes, right?). Just look for a girl who will REALLY be interested in watching some Art book you have on your shelves, asking, talking, smiling, turning the pages, initiating conversations, etc, etc, etc.

You know that kind of intimacy, right?

Thanks for reading!

 

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Pictures : Poumeyrol

Sad Heart, Merry Spirit : Chronicle 9

I read in a Claude Roy diary, as he’s around 70 years old, that he would like to reach this season, this state : “Le temps du cœur triste et de l’esprit gai” – the time of the sad heart and the merry spirit.

Here I have a vocabulary problem : is “gai” happy, merry, gay, jolly? I don’t know. I chose merry.

But I’m very fascinated by this “goal”, from an aged author I liked very much. As if he knew he could never heal his heart. But, knowing this, building his own happiness, a “merry spirit”. This touched me, a lot.

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Just read an article evoking Robert Osborne, a TCM Television Presenter who just died at 87 years old. It is told that Olivia de Havilland had with him :

One phone call a week, for decades.

Awwweeee! (-> this was the sound of my merry spirit). I wish I had a friend so close that she would call me once a week until I die at 87. Like a whatever-happens-I-want-to-talk-with-you. Awwweeee again (my merry spirit if very merried by this idea).

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I read (but where, is it Casanova or Jünger?) about the Venice Purse, a knack which says that when you have to go to a “dangerous” place (which was Venice at the time), you needed to have two purses, one with a little money in case you’re robbed, attacked, knocked out, and another one with the main part of it – well hidden.

It’s just funny to know, but then you realize that when you travel abroad you really have to think about what you do with your passport, the amount of money you have with you, etc. I wonder what this concept can tell us about life in general : Be cautious? Watch the exits? Don’t put all your eggs in the same basket? But also : GO to places where you need to think about the Venice Purse, right?

Venice, in French, is VENISE. A perfect word to say : Venizzz. Elegant as a swan, right? Venice is more like braking at the end. No good. French better, sorry.

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Elmore Leonard says somewhere about novels writing : “If it seems written, I rewrite”.

What a beautiful idea, right? Writing Style Dissimulation Efforts.

And a paradox many artists know well : work, work, work, until nobody sees you worked. It’s an interesting goal, and the path itself is enthralling too. How to reach?

There’s a balance to find, I suppose. It means you have the eyes to know when it’s not OK, when it is OK. Experience.

Well I have a vocabulary problem again. When do you use “enthralling“, dear? Can you say that about a person? How is it radioactivitied? Thrilling? Fearful? Exciting? Or more like “plainfully satisfying”?

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I watched the Iowa episode of Aerial America yesterday. It’s amazing how many times I hear “French” in these. Detroits and Illinois were “frenchised” words, and how Iowa is a piece of this territory called Louisiana, the US bought to the French 214 years ago.

These TV programs tell me how BIG are the United States. Tonight I’ll watch Illinois, following the path of Bill Bryson’s book across America in car (cf Fixin’to traveling in the USA).

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OK, it’s too long. I seize the run-up since a few weeks (is “seize the run-up” a good title?), like making the most of an epistolary energy…

I stop here. Next Chronicle next week. Here’s le hug by Ze French :

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Have a nice day!

 

Palm of Ordinary Seeds & Masters Wrong : Chronicle 8

Within my reach !
I could have touched !
I might have chanced that way !
Emily Dickinson 

 

For some of us, who have inside a sort of “rush”, a surge, an inner run-up force, there are many ways. You can Huckleberry Finn along a river, you can also Kerouac all along the road, you can choose a passion (collecting – forks or shipwreck books -, throw yourself into sports, politics, veganism or religion, anything that can keep you busy). If you have young kids, you don’t have to worry : these little brats will keep you busy. You can disappear, too, into alcoholism or antidepressants, or sleep. Shopping, why not, if you’re moneyfilled.

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My daughter was in England all past week in Plymouth, including the day people were killed and stabbed in London. You will see plenty of pictures of people in Europa saying “We Are Not Afraid”, and, like Londonians during the V1 V2 Nazi bombing during WWII, we are NOT afraid. I told my daughters to live, to shop, go to theaters and restaurants and have fun with friends. That’s our way to resist : to stay ourselves against idiots.

And yes : spot the emergency exits, everywhere they go.

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When you advise a friend to read a book, to watch a movie, and she or he asks why, you answer : “You will know once you’re on it”. With a certain smile, right?

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When a window is closed, another can open. What kind? What is different? What if it was the last window, closed for ever?

After a big disappointment, what’s left ? Pieces : misanthropy, auto-torture about ideals and dreams, and Art as a shelter.

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What do we do (or think we can do) against an formidable enemy, a wrong energy? What if you can’t resist because it would be stupidly useless? Seeds for an article :

  • Don Quichotte’s mills
  • A drop in the water
  • An attempt for appel d’air
  • Dessiller (open sb’s eyes)
  • Draw maps (for later)
  • Barometer (to warn)
  • Warn, alert
  • Guerilla
  • Witness
  • Grains of sand (in the clock)
  • Breaches & holes drilling

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Map of Variations :

To draw a map is very common. You can use it anytime, on anything. Territory, music, history, love. Then it’s not “really” a map, but a set of informations about something complex, a table, a chart.

Choose a song and list elements : lyrics, instruments, production, place of instruments in the sound, construction. There’s one “another nature” map, though : It’s how all these change and evolve in time.

Seed/Tool : in every chart you find or work on, think about the MoV.

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Feedbacking a patient can have a great effect, I read once. It’s probably the same for teachers, parents… It means : stopping being “The One Who Knows”, ride down next to your patient/student, and talk man-to-man about YOU. This can have a tremendous good effect. Your advice, on this?

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This is a seed for short stories : “When imminent danger is a godsend”. Why, where, how, etc. Your turn!

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Embarrassment when you see a Master out of his domain. Nietzsche’s music? Schoenberg’s paintings? Or someone you know? A great cook trying to fix his car? A genius computer programmer parenting? And so what?

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Sapiosexual breakups are the worse. Because instead of missing an inventing sex life, magic tenderness and a silky skin, you miss a thinking brain, a conversation master, a challenging thinker, you miss questions, surprises, bends and laughs. AND magic tenderness, okay. That’s worse, eventually.

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Eventually is a very tricky word for us French. I know it means “after some time”, or even “finally”. But in French, “éventuellement” means “possibly”, or “potentially”. Well, even now I have to check. Each time I use it. My brain doesn’t not want it. I always want to call Obama on the phone to explain him there’s a mistake.

Thanks for reading! Have a great day!

Jean-Pascal

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Half a teaspoon of a phoneysham Russian eloping : Chronicle 7

Today I don’t work, I have a “disciplinary layoff”. This is the second time in a few months, which means I’ll probably lose my job before the end of the year.

So today I read my big Nabokov book on my balcony, like 1200 pages of classes about literature. I read a big part about his compatriot Dostoyevsky, an authors he hates for is “sentimentality” (though he deeply studied his work).

As he says, disliking a book can be a great thing – one of the advantages is to put your brain in movement, trying to find what’s wrong, what it “could be”, etc. I have to admit that you need to have that happy “trait” in front of Art : dissection, study, analyze.

Nabokov never says he hates Dostoyevsky, he says his own position is “curious and uncomfortable” (incommode). He’s fascinated… and wrote lectures about his work.

What Nabokov calls sentimentality is the tendency, in novels, to talk about nervous imbeciles, monotonous overdramatic characters and other degeneration weavers.

Drama!

 

So imagine now : your marriage exploded and you’re alone, or the person you love turns away from you, or you’re going to lose your job. Some days, the usual injunctions (“Find happiness inside you”, “Move forward”) don’t work very well : it’s not a good reason to commit suicide! After all, you are healthy, right, for now?

Every woman has a “last man” – and it works the other way round! Just watch around you… That’s for another article, though…

There’s a quiet grey path you are tempted to walk on, some days. You don’t kill yourself but you gather information about it. You drink a little too much. You overthink like an idiot. Phoneysham, it is! It’s your cheap depression day. Your burden is there, but you have probably a few happy days left in front of you.

Try these if you want more about this :

  • Just wait, before you act.
  • Sometimes, insisting makes things worse.
  • Watch how you’re stuck, watch it closely.

 

So again, today I stood up because I have found words related to Art telling things about my questions, and because I write here about that. Nabokov is very intelligent and very sweet : you read his class with a big smile (see?). You clearly own up there’s no murder nor alcoholism, no incest or no gothic disaster in your life (at least, for now). Let’s call this grey path an oblique way to give a kick to the pool bottom. Eloping moods towards the surface!

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As I was reading, a maybug, a cockchafer landed on my shoulder. Ohhhh! I said hello, he walked along my arm towards my hand, then he flew away. Yes it’s harmless. We call this little brown jewel : Un hanneton.

 

OK, now listen to this :

And here’s now a little song by Eden Ahbez

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=339UrDjHDio

There was a boy
A very strange enchanted boy
They say he wandered very far, very far
Over land and sea
A little shy and sad of eye
But very wise was he

And then one day
A magic day he passed my way
And while we spoke of many things
Fools and kings
This he said to me
“The greatest thing you’ll ever learn
Is just to love and be loved in return”

Voilà !

 

Proust & les Hirondelles : Chronicle 4

Absolutely no cunning could prevent a man
from being smashed against his dreams

 

I’m French, I’m sorry : my english is clumsy these days…

Have you ever visited the school you were in as a very little child, now you’re an adult? Among all the memories and the heartbeats you feel, you also find that… everything around is very little, right? You’re taller, now… you’re different. Perspective.

Today is the “braderie” in the city of La Madeleine. We love braderies in the North of France. It’s like your US garage sales, all along some streets : today was about 1.200 exhibitors (or displayers, how to say that?). I took a cool picture of motorbikes toys, you like it?

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I’ve been asked one day about my “goals in life“. I have been very disturbed by this question, which is so… all about efficiency. I couldn’t think of a goal, even one. I feel like Cioran, in shock and in anger, after being asked about what he was “preparing”. If a French says he has “goals” in life, he sounds ridiculously Action Man, that’s it. The idea itself is a nightmare – at least when you’re more than 22 years old. I don’t want to be efficient, I just try to live, right? Dreams, maybe… Dreams, OK.

Absolutely no cunning could… etc…

I’m too lazy to find it, but the stupidest quote ever is something like “Give yourself a very high goal, then maybe you’ll reach a lower but good stage”. Of course there’s a more accurate one, saying that while you try to do that, you fail choosing the right path to achievement, you stay blind to feedbacks, etc. Typical Wrong Way Up. Well yes, these are words only, I know.

I have no goal, not one. It could be “to be happy” or “to be creative” or “to be a better human” or “to help others”, but I already failed in all these fields, obviously! And who will feed my cat, while I John Wayne?

If you want some fun, though, Google Image “Goals Quotes”. Plenty of orders in capitals. Like : <<DON’T LET ANYTHING STOP YOU FROM REACHING YOUR GOAL>>. Ohlalalaa, my French eyes are hurt! I need a beer, I think.

So I found a goal : stay zen in front of bullsh*t 🙂

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It’s when the weather change (warmer air, higher sun, sudden showers) than you can have a rush of childhood memories. Or teenhood, say. Suddenly it’s HERE, you feel the same feeling you had in your mother’s arms, or at school when you were loving some shy redhead in silence, or when you were gathering interesting rocks under open sky. The idea of memories in Madeleines de Proust come from the food, but also from a smell (freshly cut grass, chocolate cake baking, little pot of white glue in kindergarten) or a sound (of swallows flying hunting between streets, or the familiar engine’s roar of you’re father’s car), but also from the light in the air, the clouds, a coming thunderstorm…

Marguerite Duras says somewhere that she can NOT write if the bed is not made. Strange thing is : I never forgot that, because… that’s true.

I bought a Raymond Carver book, “The American Chekhov”, as they say. I know Carver’s work pretty well, but I never read him in English. Good exercise. I can’t resist to a blurb on a book saying “The (Italian, Canadian, whatever country you choose) Chekhov”…

They have something in common, that’s right : they watch meticulously our little renunciations, our microscopic failures, our rushes never said, our words, spoken and immediately regretted, our love silliness, our boredom. But it’s not “laments”. It’s more like : “This is it, brother human, and it not even THAT dramatic”.

I found a rose, there. Is a rose, is a rose, Mrs Stein. Look where she is (“une rose”) :

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In the shades of break-up moods, you have the yellow poison of jealousy, the dark corners of loneliness, the twinge of uncertainty and many more. The invisible bitterness of “having being loved and then not” is sometimes like swimming against the cold current of a long deep river.

In the shades of illness… Oh, another time, OK?

You can read books (or see a therapist, it depends on how you’re made), self help or philosophy : you’ll read everywhere that you have to find your happiness inside you, right? Again? I “have to”? The capitalized ORDER quote is <<BE HAPPY AND SMILE>>. Yes, each time, you want to punch the author in the face! Bim! Paf! Pouf!

Give birth to a dancing star from the chaos you have within

Strange star, but that could be my Nietzsche goal, maybe… Well, see?

Thanks for reading! Merci!

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