When your comfort zone is in Mainstream Children Marketing, you live in PARADISE

Why do I feel a slight nausea when I see BB-8 with a Santa Claus Hat or the death star covered with snow?

The concept of Comfort Zone is useful. Inside this (we all need that, right?), we’re easy and happy, like a sleeping baby. We have all we need, that’s COOL. You absolutely don’t have to explore the outside : it’s unknown, maybe dangerous, blah blah blah, and you could discover things…

If you’re an adult and you love Harry Potter, Disney, Star Wars and all the marketing around it (Pop Figures, Lego, etc) and you have plenty of money, I see you live in total and uninterrupted paradise. For your own happiness, you just have to visit stores. Then, as a good target you are, you’ll go from one “Oh! Ah!” to “Woaw that’s cool! I want it!”.

EVERYTHING there is ready for you and for your bliss : Lego Star Wars Advent Calendars, Harry Potter Hogwarts Houses Goodies (scarves, tee shirts, etc), Disney Consumer Products (you’ll find plenty of elements of their targeting processes on the web, for example here : https://www.marketing91.com/marketing-strategy-walt-disney/ ). I told you : it’s paradise!!

Happiness in idiocy is exactly what the system needs from you. Consent, obedience, servitude.

As long as you’re smiling with this new Falcon Millenium Lego or this Avengers Captain America doormat ($86 51 + $4.49 shipping on Amazon, today) or this very cool Disney/Pixar Cars 3 Ultimate Florida Speedway Track Set ($179.74 & FREE shipping – 36 customer reviews), you’re OK. Life is a beauty! There are “822 results for Toys & Games : “Jack Skellington” on Amazon. Havem all?

“Come on! Live with your time!”

Yes, well : NO. I have another comfort zone, which is, in culture, I hope, a little larger. I’ll watch the new Star Wars for sure, and Blade Runner 2049 was great, but this week I read an interview with Lenny Bernstein about the Rite of Spring, tweets by Taleb, articles by Serge Daney or Pasolini, talked about dreams or creativity about Valéry (poet), realism (or not, cf Sorolla) in Zorn’s paintings, Sander’s links with Walker Evans (photographer), or symbols analyzed by Durand (anthropologist who liked Bachelard). Tonight I’ll probably watch… The Servant, by Losey. A good way to think about this, right?

And I’d hang myself if I had to watch cartoons while I coffee in the morning!

Argh! Bloody hell! I just realized that my comfort zone was… to expand mine.

Lazy me.

Trapped. Me moorings awweeeee.

 

Have a nice day!

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Insisting to find gossamery beauties…

Immediate pleasure when you discover some music, it’s awesome. It CLICKS with you, with what you wait, your brain is sparkling : dance, dance!

But I remember this from my young years : the albums I loved the most were not appreciated that much “at first sight”. Nahhh. I had to learn how to love them.

It happened with some avant-garde, or a bit complicated progressive rock LPs, like King Crimson or Robert Wyatt. In this case, I had to find my way with elements I already appreciated (a voice, a song from a previous album, a guitar style), then little by little, in an insisting process, I became like intoxicated by the good poison, and in final I loved the album more.

In classical music, the main problem is the level of dissonance. I struggled with Bartok, then with Webern. It’s true : “until I found my personal wall” – the place where you can not love it, for sure. Every door is closed. You may insist, but without success.

What I discovered later is : there are other walls, which cut you from “immediate pleasure”. The Continent of Complexity aspect (Proust in literature, Mahler in music), where you have to dig into. The infinite sentences of Proust, where you can lose yourself in boredom, are full of intelligence and marvels. The long symphonies of Mahler, where you have to sail many many times before you begin to detect reflects of miracles. In a way, you have to invent your own detectors…

One other wall is more tricky : when you find it’s “too simple“. I always loved the earthy magic of Brahms, but couldn’t find any pleasure (or barely) in Schumann or Schubert‘s musics, which I found boring. But then, one day, my ears became more… accurate, or sensitive, and I was able one day to find gossamery structures and colorful subtleties I never heard before. Awee.

 

Your tool today is a dial : Are we lazy? Is it because of a lack of time, or energy? In what other field could you apply your efforts? Where should you insist, to find beauty? Where is it too hard, too complicated? Where is it too simple? Where do you smile with contempt… and you should not? What are possible keys? Help from another person? Articles and books? Is this vicarious, or merely an island luxury thing?

Oh, sorry for my wobbly, strange English!

Thanks for reading!

You can also read : https://afrenchtoolbox.wordpress.com/2016/10/21/jungle-syndrome-of-mahler-proust-marx/

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La Grande Vadrouille / The Great Stroll

Hi, my American readers! From San Francisco to New York City by way of Wellington, Fayetteville and Wichita, it’s SUNDAY, a special day, right? Time for a barbecue and Rosé wine, or maybe a good old French comedy classic?

La Grande Vadrouille is one of the best. It means literally “The Great Stroll”; originally released in the United States as Don’t Look Now… We’re Being Shot At!

It’s a big production, made in 1966 (a good year : I was born this year). Wikipedia says :

“For over forty years La Grande Vadrouille was the most successful French film in France, topping the box office with over 17,200,000 cinema admissions. It remains today the third most successful film ever in France, of any nationality”.

I copied pasted the plot from wikipedia too :

Summer 1941. Over German-occupied France, a Royal Air Force bomber becomes lost after a mission and is shot down over Paris by German flak. Three of the crew, parachute out over the city, where they run into and are hidden by a house painter, Augustin Bouvet, a puppet show operator, Juliette, and the grumbling conductor of the Opéra National de Paris, Stanislas Lefort. Involuntarily, Lefort, Juliette and Bouvet get themselves tangled up in the manhunt against the aviators led by Wehrmacht Major Achbach as they help the airmen to escape to the free zone with the help of Resistance fighters and sympathisers.

You’ll hear French good persons trying to speak English, fighting with a huge sense of… Frenchiness against the German occupiers… If you like The Great Race and other big budget sunny happy crazy movies, it’s for you.

Is it or Netflix or something? No idea. But if it is, give it a try!

 

Thanks for reading!

 

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Feeling the air of Waterloo & other oblique explorations…

Hey, explorer…

Choose a knowledge-field you don’t know at all, and begin to dig to find your gold. This is what you like to do, right?

Japanese cinema, French classical music, British painters of 19th Century, US Civil War – what else?

Voilà : you have your unknown territory ready. Your hungriness will do the rest. Yum!

You need help, right? A compass, a guide, a book, a web site, friends, a lecture… It’s easy to find some. Find a map. Draw your map.

What we often do is to see what’s essential. Kurosawa and Ozu for Japanese cinema. Ravel and Debussy for French musicians, etc. You read the most important books, and that’s OK. An afternoon on the web will help to find the list…

Here I propose some more oblique ways to do that.

  • Find documents against. People who dislike, or say the contrary of what it’s commonly said. I once read about the French Revolution : next to the great books I piled on my table, I put a book written by a Royalist, an historian whose motto was “Revolution : a wrong mess!”. He was a good writer, though, and I learned a lot from him – though it’s pretty rare to find this “music” in our times.
  • Explore little branches of the tree. After decades of exploration, I knew the great composers and their important works : Brahms, Bartok, Prokofiev and more. Then I spent years to explore the same field, but under the stars : Roussel, Martinu, Walton and Sibelius. And thanks to the previous “normal” exploration, I had so much pleasure!
  • Find other ways to explore :
  • Instead of reading history books about an era, try to read books written by witnesses. Instead of trying to find the big picture, choose one person, a detail. One painter’s life. Instead of reading, go to lectures, watch them on YouTube. Find the minor things, what’s considered failures, and study hows and whys…

  • Explore what’s difficult : Mahler instead of Beethoven. Avant-garde photography.
  • Explore what’s hard because documents are rare, or the field very small.
  • Explore what you think you dislike : Consider other doors. Baroque music. Swedish movies. History of Prussia. Try to see if you find surprise-gold.
  • Go on site. This is totally different. Feeling the air of Waterloo. Find Vermeer’s city. Watch the sky…
  • In between two fields. Instead of studying Portugal or the new America, study the boats, the travels, the movements, agreements, trades. Learn what happened between two territories : producers and movie makers, Napoleo and United Kingdom…

 

What territory will you find? Butterflies? African masks? Dante? Religions in India? Story of the city of Philadelphia? Bridges of Budapest?

Do you have other ideas to find doors, bridges, territories and maps?

Then, what vein of gold will you find? What doors, what ways? Will you wake up in the morning with this delicious urge : dig more, know more, learn more?

Thanks for reading!

 

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Instagram : genevievealicegarner

 

 

 

Every bookstore is the result of its clientele

One day I saw an interview of a celeb journalist and TV show presenter, a person I like very much, directing good shows and a pretty good interviewer herself. She was asked why TV was so full of trash. I saw her face changing, she was really upset, then answered something very surprising : TV broadcasts were so bad because “It’s what the audience wants!”.

She continued on this mode, telling something like “If people were watching operas, literature documentaries and great movie classics, all trash TV would broadcast in front of nobody, then would disappear for ever, then we would have great TV everywhere!”.

Her anger was noticeable, and that’s why I remembered it clearly. When smart people complain, you listen. Then, you wonder, right?

Because of course this all seems to be too good to be true, and it’s easy to counterattack. People watch trash TV because it’s prepared and broadcasted to them, etc.

 

So, there’s a balance here to find. After counterattack I have to admit that we all have a responsibility here, nonetheless. It’s like when I hear someone complaining about dense traffic… from a car. I have to answer to this person that he is a brick of it.

In some countries, if you are stuck into a traffic jam, you get a ticket! Which, in a way, is fair : you’re a part of it, it’s your fault!

OK, there’s a balance to find…

 

I work in a bookstore, and I’m confronted with this “structure”. The axiom could be :

“Every bookstore is the result of its clientele”.

You can be appalled, but it’s true. For a part, at least.

Yeah, there are other dials to watch. You need to have serious booksellers on board. And you often have to sell tons of “best sellers” on end displays… to be able to present entire tables of great books (your choice) in the store. Etc.

In a serious bookstore, all kind of books are bought then presented on tables and shelves. Employees, then, watch (weekly) closely the sales, then books are reordered. Never sold volumes (for months) are a bit dirty or torn, and therefore sent back to editors, and this is it : little by little, the customers, by the way they act and buy, model and form the store.

You just need a year or so to adjust, understand and change your store to adapt to your clientele. If you have an architecture school a street away, your architecture department will grow, you’ll have rare books, theory books and even anthropology books for the thinkers around. A visitor will pass and will be in a awe : “Oh wow, what a great architecture choice you have!”. Yessss it’s thanks to the bookstore employee, but mainly because he found the clientele, too. It’s a dance, a tango.

There’s a balance to find.

There’s a split of responsibilities in front of trash TV, in traffic jams, in poor supplied bookstores. Suppliers, of course, but audience too.

Do you meet this structure too, in your job, in your life? Don’t hesitate to comment, here.

 

We have an old idiom in France, about couples : “L’homme propose, la femme dispose”. It’s something like “the man proposes doings, the woman makes the choice” – I’m sorry for the translation, it’s almost impossible to do it, but you got me, right? Tango.

 

Thanks for reading!

(Really sorry for my English today. Have a nice day!)

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“To Eat Alone”

Some recent events in my life made me a lonely man, and therefore a lonely eater.

When I was a father in a family, I was really happy to have dinner-togetherness, to cook for my tribe, to talk, listen, laugh, and feel the family’s energy around the table.

I’ve been very skeptical when I read about how Americans were losing these daily gatherings of all the big cats around the table. “Everyone is having snacks when they want, everybody’s picking things in the fridge, watch TV or eat in bedrooms”, they said. My feelings were like between “it’s not true, it’s impossible” and “oh these Americans!”.

When my daughters were little, some days I went home late, it was almost time to go to bed : I told them stories, kissed them goodnight, then I was happy to have dinner with their mother, but also alone.

I remember good summer evenings. Two cat babies sleeping, mother cat watching a movie, and me papa cat, with a cassoulet, two slices of bread and half of a bottle of Bergerac wine, eating on a tray, on my bed, in front of a wide open double-window (or should I say “French door”, really?), watching and listening birds and trees in the dusk, sshhh.

Not working on thursdays, I remember I was happy to have meal time alone, eating in silence in the kitchen, listening to the rain outside. On my table : a candle, a corner lamp, and a magazine (about movies). Maybe some Brahms chamber music too. Bliss!

Now I eat alone, but I don’t snack. I never snack, and I’m always questioning my snacking friends in America, opening different little colored bags to crinch crunch and croonch while we Skype. I’m like “Where’s your plate, dear?”. They know I eat alone, thus they’re somewhat amazed by HOW I’m eating alone. Well, that’s nothing special, but I… I’m sorry… I can’t snack. It would kill me under a blanket of depression. It’s almost : “I’m French therefore I need a plate”.

I know better, OK : I have more time, in France. We work less, we move less (distances are… different here – I go to work by bike), and… errr… I think we think that food time is worth it, too : I eat alone but it’s cooked, sliced, prepared, organized. Just a bit. I need it.

Awweee sorry for my bad English. I’m wobbling, I know it. Pardonnez-moi !

Have a nice day! Bon appétit !

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“Consider other doors, gallivanter!”

Sometimes you’re less interested by the works than by the theories, discussions, struggles, articles and letters by those who invented it or studied it.

Imagine you’re interested in cubism, or new wave music. You can study the paintings and listen to OMD’s albums, but you could also dislike all of it, and at the same time discovering plenty of good ideas and concepts in the articles, books, letters around these subjects.

Go to France, but visit other cities than Paris. Read a poet, but not his poetry. Focus on trains when you study WWII.

So what? Well, nothing more than :

“Consider other doors, gallivanter!”.

I’d go further : choose a field you really don’t want to like (pick one : Street Art, Turkish Music, history of the Loire Castles in France, early movies of Brian de Palma, African food, or Nicolas de Stael’s paintings), and you go girl!

You could be surprised. Or find harmonic links with what you like, concepts you could apply to your discipline, or other doors to even more interesting territories.

Thanks for reading!

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