“More of the Same Thing”, when insisting is a failure #Watzlawick #Change

More of the same thing is what I call a “wrong tool”. It means : INSIST. Sometimes it’s good. Sometimes it’s stupid. Push push and push in a dead end. Seems easy, but we all do the same mistake.

The pattern is simple :

You have a problem. You think you have the solution. You act. It fails. So you think you have to insist, push, go stronger, “more of the same thing”. you fail.

The problem is “you think into the box”, and you are SURE you have the solution, and that if you insist enough, you will get it. And it’s wrong!

It’s an old classic, told by Palo Alto therapy searchers and Paul Watzlawick. If you want to save your couple, if you want to help someone, if you want to flirt, if you want to talk to someone who doesn’t want to talk : STOP. The solution? It’s at the end of this article!

The book? Paul Watzlawick : Change. Principles of Problem Formation and Problem Resolution.

The author gives an example (which I translated rapidly) :

A teacher in a class has a single kid “with problems”. She asks to meet the parents and learns that he has huge issues, comes from a broken family and is very lonely all the time. So she tries her best to take care of him and give the boy much more interest; but the solution is worse : his notes crash, he is more alone. She insists and it goes into a dead end. The therapist says that “the more of the same thing” she does, the worse it’ll go (what she does isolates the boy from the other kids, for example). She’s asked to ignore him. Only to compliment him if the notes are good. And it worked!

If a wife asks her husband to talk more to her, spontaneously, about his days or thoughts, he will tell little things as an effort, but he will feel more and more closed, which will… make the wife to be more focused on him, waiting, and “more of the same thing”, arguing continuously about why he doesn’t talk to her enough, which will embarrass him more and more, etc.

Chögyam Trungpa, who was a Buddhist Meditation Master, says that if someone answer “No” when you want to talk with him, you just have to disappear. If you don’t, if you insist, you just transform yourself into a nagging (oh, a new word!) Demon. He’s so right!

Of course you know the story of the bunch of guys flirting everyday with the beautiful lady in a bar, with no success. Only one guy understands the problem (“More of the same thing”). He just sits in the bar, no interest, showing his back to her. And paying her the most neutral way every night. And guess what? He become the only one who gets her interest…

The tool is also a dial :

It’s hard to detect when you insist “more of the same thing” stupidly, because you are SURE you’re about to succeed. Don’t be a demon. And think out of the box. Buy the book, by the way, it’s very good.

Thanks for reading!

#clown #lille3000

 

 

 

The Ravel’s Bolero Syndrome : when you know someone from ONE thing only

Some names are well known for only ONE work, one event, one place.

Dorothea Lange is well known for “this” picture only. Maurice Ravel is linked for ever to his Bolero. The city of Agra with the Taj Mahal. The Korgis have a great hit : “Everybody’s Got to Learn Sometime”. Where’s the rest?

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I call it The Ravel Syndrome. The structure is : “Something is known for ONE thing and the rest is globally ignored”. It’s not necessarily one work, it can be one domain : for example, Chekhov is very well know for his theater, and nobody knows his short stories.

This dial should lead us to take the wheel, think, and explore. Lange probably took other good pictures, Ravel composed a great Daphnis & Chloe and his concertos for piano are fantastic, Agra is full of great other places to visit. The Korgis, well, I don’t knowww (there are pages of lists of “One Hit Singers” on the web)…

There are two lessons to get from this :

  • This flaw could be called “Hit Laziness”. Let’s enter the house and discover the other rooms, why not try to see what the artist has behind his “hit”. Maybe treasures?
  • “Someone is known for ONE thing and the rest is globally ignored” can be very cruel. I think of Monica Lewinsky, which is probably a much more interesting person than this label you just put on her, in your mind. Hmmm?

 

Thanks for reading!

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Verlaine & Impossibility to Translate Poetry

This poem from Verlaine is called “Nevermore”. Here it is in French, then in English. Verlaine is a master, but he is not the most complicated poet (like Rimbaud, who is more like a Wizard). He shows you things. Nevertheless, to translate his work in English is, as usual, struggling with words…

And it begins with the first word : in English you seem to use “memory” for our both words “mémoire”, and “souvenir”. A souvenir is more a recollection, a remembrance.

If the air is colorless, our “atone” is different : it’s colourless but also “without a voice”, atonic.

The sun casts a glare, it’s correct, but the french verb “darder” is more bitter. Dard means “a sting” like from a wasp, “the sun casts its monotonous glare” could be also “firing a sting of monotonous ray”.

The “north winds”, at the end of the first verse tries to say “la bise”. Bise (pronounce “bizz”) is a great word for chill wind,”icy calm wind”. It’s great because “une bise” means also a “little innocent kiss”. North wind can not explain the chill you feel when you hear “La bise”, a word who resonates with this bouquet of senses in France “Quiet icy silent wind which sounds like a delicate kiss too”. Yesss.

Poetry is made of words, these gold nuggets used by poets with the whole set of radioactivity and colors. It’s not possible to translate, but it is possible to try, thought. You got the idea of the poem. Then you HAVE to try to read the original, for two reasons : for the music of it, and to “dig” into this gold if you want to. Thirdly, the words used by the translator can trigger something, though, something… different. Another poetry, in fact. Why not. Subtleties.

At the end, I found another translation. To compare.

Thanks for reading!

(colors or colours, tell me?)

Nevermore

Souvenir, souvenir, que me veux-tu ? L’automne
Faisait voler la grive à travers l’air atone,
Et le soleil dardait un rayon monotone
Sur le bois jaunissant où la bise détonne.

Nous étions seul à seule et marchions en rêvant,
Elle et moi, les cheveux et la pensée au vent.
Soudain, tournant vers moi son regard émouvant
“Quel fut ton plus beau jour ? ” fit sa voix d’or vivant,

Sa voix douce et sonore, au frais timbre angélique.
Un sourire discret/ lui donna la réplique,
Et je baisai sa main blanche, dévotement

– Ah ! les premières fleurs, qu’elles sont parfumées !
Et qu’il bruit avec un murmure charmant
Le premier oui qui sort de lèvres bien-aimées !

Nevermore

Memory, memory, what do you want of me? Autumn
Makes the thrush fly through colourless air,
And the sun casts its monotonous glare
On the yellowing woods where the north winds hum.

We were alone, and walking in dream,
She and I, hair and thoughts wind-blown.
Then, turning her troubling gaze on me,
‘Your loveliest day?’ in her voice of fine gold,

Her voice, with its angel’s tone, fresh, vibrant, sweet.
I gave her my answer, a smile so discreet,
And kissed her white hand with devotion.

– Ah! The first flowers, what a fragrance they have!
And how charming the murmured emotion
Of a first ‘yes’ let slip from lips that we love!

Nevermore

Souvenirs, souvenirs, what do you want of me ? Autumn
Invites the thrush to fly through the air lifeless sans tone,
And the sun beats its rays down : relentless monotone
Over the yellowing wood where claps the North wind’s thunder tone.

We were walking all by ourselves as if in a dream,
She and I, haïr and thoughts buffeted by the wind’s non-esteem.
All of a sudden, she turned towards me her looks agleam
« Which was your most beautiful day ? » did her lively golden voice beam.

Her voice soft and sonorous, a fresh timbre angelic.
A discreet smile she did redeem as a reaction cyclic,
And her blanched hand I kissed with devoutness.

Oh ! the first flowers, how their scent liberates perfumes !
And the first sounds they emit akin to charming murmur
The first « yes » that escapes the lips of virgin dames consumes !

#peanuts #charliebrown #melancholy

#Bowbells Blues (traveling in the USA without moving)

I pinned a map of the United States in my bathroom. I’ve never been there, and I have no money to go. But I’m not the tourist type, after all. I could go to New York, see the Rocky Mountains, the fluttering streets of San Francisco and ride the Route 66. Naaahhh. I just watch my map, and I wonder…

How is Cleveland? How are the houses near the border between North Dakota and Canada? Do people have an accent in Bothell, Washington, or Topeka, Kansas? Etc…

I would love to rent a car and explore this country randomly – personally I immediately want to try the Route 65, not the 66, which goes Louisiana, Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa and Minnesota. Or the 70. Not the 66. No way.

I can wander on Google Maps (I’m currently visiting Bowbells, North Dakota – from there I’d take the 8th to see Four Bears Village; should I go to Bismark?).

I can choose to stay in a state this way : finding movies or documentaries filmed in Minneapolis, for example, on IMDB (there are 1148 movies) and watch the most movies possible during a month.

I could explore Flickr (1179 photos for Bowbells). YouTube? Facebook? What else?

So, well, choosing Route 70 and imagining I ride along on a bike. Slowly. I can imagine picking a little town and “staying” there for a month. Trying to “meet” people, trying to make friends, talking, Skyping with them… Then move North. Or West.

Traveling without moving.

Or Japan? Italy? Estonia? Nope. Topeka. I wanna see Topeka.

capitol_exterior_north02

Letters and Boxes – Hashtag “Old Times”

You write an email, it goes to Japan in one second. You can text people all around the world, you can call them, or even see them on your screen now, and talk. For HOURS. It’s free. It’s called Internet.

I was born in 1966, so when I was a young adult, say in 1986, there was no Internet. If you wanted to write to someone, you had to WRITE it, on paper, you had to POST it (should I say “ship”?). Stamp. Envelope. Write the address. You could put something in the envelope. You could perfume it. Yes you could, and you can.

Like Ernst Jünger says, “Tout gain s’accompagne d’une perte” – Every gain involves loss. At the age of Internet, we lost something about mail.

We lost the wait. The DELICIOUS and painful and exciting wait of a letter. All this implied so many things! You could write pages before you got the letter (of your lover, silly!), you could add words when you got a response, you could send a letter before you got one, inventing a double-ping-pong. It was exciting. It was BLISS.

Tools : 

Every gain involves loss. Never forget this. Apply and think to anything you find a “progress”. What did you lose, dear?

You CAN go back to old times. You love someone? As a friend? A lover? Send her a LETTER. Send a box. Send an object. A card. A symbol. Written words. Paper. Perfumed. Colored papers. Write. Draw. Add little objects. Stamps. Images. Symbols. Treasures. A petal. Do it! It’s old school? Perfect.

Think. When someone ships you something, it means something. It’s an object. It’s real. It’s life. It’s a choice. It’s out of virtuality. It’s important.

Thanks for reading!

Most Advanced, Yet Acceptable

Most Advanced, Yet Acceptable (MAYA) is a Raymond Loewy‘s principle about Design. I like this idea for many reasons.

It speaks about a limit, a frontier : your object, your “invention” tries to bring something new, but… if it’s too new, you lose the audience, you irritate people.

It’s a concept you can use on other territories. Web Design, of course. But also in many forms of Arts.

This “Tool” is a combination.

  • Lever (from simple to complex)
  • Dial (measuring where the audience is, from bored, to interested, to irritated or lost).

Who grasp this idea? Designers, Web Designers, Architects, and all artists who take care about the audience, of course.

Of course you have in mind the “pure artists” who are stubborn geniuses (or stubborn lonely “under rated”, haha). They have their own mind, their creativity. They create. Take it or leave it, guys! Their work falls, for a given audience, in these 4 categories :

  1. Boring simple zone “Whatever, it’s nothing new!”
  2. Comfort mainstream zone “Cool, I like it”
  3. Waow zone “This is new and great!”
  4. Failing zone “It’s weird, I don’t understand!”

Of course you have to consider the idea of being ahead of your time. Then it becomes Most Advanced, Unacceptable… but Acceptable one day! Well, maybe!

Tool/Lever/Dial Questions :

Where do you put your own lever, from creativity to take care of the audience? What can MAYA mean to a photographer? A poet? Could you apply that to your life? Where? Sex? Parenting? Where do you want to be ahead of your time? Where is the “risk” dial? Where can be the danger of “taking care too much” about the audience? Where’s the danger in Screen-Tests, in the movies? What about nuggets of Advanced/Unacceptable elements in a mainstream work? What is Avant-Garde? What if “You don’t know your audience that much”?

 

Sorry for my English. Thanks for reading!

 

Recess Time : “I don’t talk to you anymore everrrrr”

It’s recess time. Kids are running screaming everywhere. And there’s an argument, under a tree : “You betrayed me I don’t trust you anymore ever I will tell it to my mum you are very mean and I won’t talk to you anymore everrrr”. Drama.

Imagine now some more adults word in the kids mouths now : “OK, we have a problem, friend. You broke my trust, do you realize that ? Let’s talk : how do we get out of this problem? Why did you do that? What happened in your mind, silly? Is it because I didn’t want you to talk to me anymore?”.

Then, you could see the two kids talking quietly while they walk…

I heard many times about whole families on Facebook fighting about parenting or politics or a wrong picture posted on a wall. Everybody is bitter and block everyone. I heard many times about someone who decides to “I don’t talk to you anymore ever” to his own parents. Each time I’m like : Maybe you could try a letter a year? Maybe just to check if it’s not a misunderstanding? Maybe to check if the angriness has vanished into memories? Evolving towards the light? A letter to forgive, or ask for forgiveness? Oh there’s a good word, here : Diplomacy.

Lever :

In case of problem, wrong moves and misunderstanding, do you chopblock people, or do you, on the contrary, increase the level of dialog and try to understand, grow up, and climb a few stair-steps together ? Are you a shark (attack), a carp (fear), or a dolphin (elegance)?

Tool :

Do you need an enemy to regroup and feel safe? Maybe you do.

Heyyy! This is another article!

#holderlin #powerless #danger #quote

Enregistrer

Constantly Random is an Instagram flaw

Instagram is a great funny app to use and to watch.

I noticed that if you want many followers, you have to be… persistent. If you take pictures of street art, or portraits of homeless people, or pot plants in black and white, dancers in NYC or “I see beauty in dirty ruins”, macro insects or abstract pieces of wood minimalism, you will get many followers.

If, like me, you take “constantly random” pictures and you wander in all kind of “styles”, you’re done. Many people won’t understand what you’re doing, and the few followers you get will quickly unfollow because they dislike you post a happy bee after a blu-ray movie, a wall texture before a black & white dead tree, a HDR sky next to a symmetrical French architecture.

There are some tools, dials and levers to pick, here.

Dial : What kind of spirit are you ? Are you, like a deep-sea diver, exploring a small territory, or are you, like a bee-air forager, smelling and exploring all that you find (from the art of warfare to linguistics, electronic music to Prussia history, American painters to Russian short stories) ?

Lever : Where do you put the lever, from “I show what I love to show” (with the random effect consequences) to “I focus on one thing only” (with the purpose to be more readable and get more audience) ? What is your blog about ? Food ? Or poetry, images, weather, books, music and politics ?

Tool : Play this game : try to find the hidden pattern behind the apparent randomness. Yeah, dear, bend over this caldron and detect it. The forager bee draws interesting patterns in the air.

https://www.instagram.com/jprobocat/

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“I miss something, but… I don’t know what it is…”

“I miss something, but… I don’t know what it is…”

I think you feel something in the deepest of your chest when you read this phrase. Right ? If you don’t, you can go watch your Christmas tree or go to the gym, you’re good.

The Abandonment Syndrome is in almost everyone of us. You don’t have to be an orphan, being abused, or to have alcoholic parents to suffer this pain ! for this incompleteness, It’s a matter of shades, though…

Mistrust, sabotage behaviors, need of control, excessive moods, etc, and this “hole” you have in your heart, sometimes.

“Quelque chose me manque, mais je ne sais pas quoi…”

Yes, it’s a matter of shades (degrees, levels, what should I say ?). It can be a very little feeling of loneliness if you can’t share your enthusiasm after a great (French) movie, to a dangerous nervous breakdown leading you to suicide or hospital.

I realised a bit late in my life that the biggest joy and happiness were brought to me when I found a mate with whom I could SHARE (which is the key of all this, for myself) things, ideas, glee and jubilation.

This became clearly a flaw. I filled my abandonment with sharing, sharing, sharing. So much that I could fall in love with a brain “made of the same wood” (and it became like an orgy of sparkling ideas each time I talked with this person). When this person is away, you feel like a lonely fool, with all your sharing stuff bouncing in your head, cf this Inner Gold article.

Levers :

Growing as an adult, I found out there are two ways to deal with abandonment, incompleteness.

1/ Never surrender. Find your mates. Share. Be happy. Life is short. Cherish them. It can be from a distant Facebook friend you will never meet to the biggest love of your life, the person you would marry. Yes it’s a hunt. Yes it’s a terrific source of bliss !

2/ Surrender. Know the irony of life. Recognize the pain you have in your heart. Know it. Dance with it. You’re alone, you’re alone forever. Play as if you were happy. Be happy. Be alone happy, even if you’re in family. This loneliness can be tamed.

You know how I know that ? I watched older people around me. The intelligent, the sparkling ones. They explore the world and its culture, Art, they dig, deeply, they love it ! They don’t need to share. They are all alone. They like it like that. Some of them told me the secret : the hole and the pain, it’s here. They learned how to not care, and not let things get to them.

#flower

Enregistrer

Overreacting as a seed for dialog

When you see in a friend, a lover, a parent, overreacting like crazy, you’re stunned, and floored, your mouth stays open, you look like a ridiculous dead frog.

“What the f… is happening here ?”

You can try to dialog but you quickly find out, as a rule, that it’s impossible. Run !

Your first reaction, you embarrassing silly fool, by the way, is try to weave back a conversation. If you find this person is overreacting, don’t say “You overreacting, no ?”.

It does not work, obviously.

OK. Go away. Shut up. Think.

If someone reacts this way, to “something” you just find different, funny or just pleasantly challenging, you have to understand that you touched a nerve, you struck a chord, you hit a heartstring, whatever (HOW do I say this in english, good people ? – in France we say “Toucher une corde sensible”, to touch a sensitive rope).

If you like this person, his or her overreaction should activate your empathy. It’s a good thing. Watch, listen, remember, try to understand. Your cultural standards are different, the “other” doesn’t always fit. That’s life and that’s a dance. Learn.

You need time, then you can cautiously try to dialog. Find the nerve. Hug (this friendship is precious, right ?). Hug again. Smile. You also have your own shit to deal with.

Dial/Tool :

Seeing a good person overreacting is a seed for empathy and dialog. You’ll know your friend better, strengths and flaws included. We all have to learn how to navigate around the people we love. What you find “innocent” can be a big, a HUGE deal for this one. Learn. And work to find out and understand what happened. It’s worth it. It is !

Do you know your own chords ? Where should people NOT tickle you ?

#flowers

Aujourd’hui c’est gris / Today it’s grey

In English, to be sad is to feel blue, which is a bit strange. Blue is the blue sky ! In France, we say : “Je vois la vie en gris aujourd’hui” – I see my life in grey today.

This morning the sky was grey, a still blanketlid of grey. My mood was grey : I smiled and said “Aujourd’hui c’est gris !”, today’s grey. So I chose grey clothes and I’m writing this with my cat Bidou on my knees, listening to…

On YouTube I searched “Hindemith Langsam” (try !) but I picked, at the end, the Apollo of Stravinsky. It’s, say, velvet grey, elegant, a standing up melancholia.

When you feel blue, you can fight it with orange and yellow colors, and listen to Cuban happy trumpetting shit, OR you can sit in front of the window, near the rain, watching the grey, listening to some Satie. It depends on how you’re made, inside.

If today I had to compose a piano piece, I’d call it “I miss you, Swanny”; it would be Satiesque – with a veil, behind, like these clouds under.

Lever : Choose your weapon ! When you’re in a blue mood, what’s effective ? To sing a fake happiness on tropical dances, or try to hold your shit to slowly stand up ?

 

#sky

 

Sudden Absurdity Syndrome

We all are the same : we need to be busy !

Some of us work so much, though, that they don’t have to think about it. Some of us just watch anything on TV, très bien, très bien. In France they say “Je me vide la tête” (“I empty my head”), which is probably necessary, right ?

But yeah, passion, it happens. You plunge into a universe and you let you got eaten by it.

Some people can collect anything around a pop group (Beatles, Yes, Dylan ?) or a historic event (from la Révolution Française to Alamo or Gettysburg), a composer (Puccinophilia ?). Good and interesting way to keep you busy !

To build a “things” collection is also a perfect activity. You explore, you read, you collect, you compare, you write in forums,  you watch your collection : coins or stamps, forks/knives/spoons (pick one), old magazines about cactus or guns. Even wine corks collecting works !

I used to collect stamps when I was a kid. It was merely a social thing : some kids around me were doing the same : sharing was cool ! The stamps… well…

One day, I watched my stamps, in three big albums. And in one second, plop, all of it became absurd – I realised what I was doing : collecting colored paper rectangles with teeth shapes on the border, normally used to send letters. Not much.

Every human activity, you’re right, can be reducted to absurdity : just watch what it is in reality. After all, soccer is made of two dozens men in shorts running on grass after a balloon…

Tool/Dial :

Pray to be spared by the feeling of realising what you’re doing. If you manage to keep it out of your brain, you’re safe. You’ll be comforted by people on elegant forums who do the same. Combinations, there, are very cool : “Chairs and Coffee”, or “Knives and Daisies”, whatever. It seems cool, no ? Good !

Beware, because if you really watch the eye of people you meet, you will probably see the absurdity sparkling in it. People are polite, but they laugh inside, and this sarcastic invisible light could really contaminate you :

“Oh you collect spoooons, that’s sooooo greaaaat !” (hahaha – or wine corks, show me all of them).

(of course, this happens because these people don’t really understand WHY collecting this shit is interesting for you : stamps are beautifully engraved, etc). A knife, to cut things. WTF.

The Sudden Absurdity Syndrome is when the bubble explodes. You realise where you are, on this planet, collecting “screwdrivers and lemon juice”; you like to take and share pictures of this, and, even if the screwdrivers are perfectly crafted in Titanium 2.0, it plopped in your head (“WTF am I doing ?”) and you’re done. You’re done. You’re megadone.

The same blindness is in everyone of us for other things, love, job, sports. I watched, a few years ago, a kitesurfing guy, at the beach. He was good ! But later I saw him sitting on the sand, like stunned. He was probably just tired of jumping in the air over the sea like that, but I imagined the Sudden Absurdity Syndrome. “WTF am I doing ?”, etc…

Our Sysiphian condition is infinite.

For myself…

After all, what am I doing here ? Collecting shelves of books I won’t (for the most part) read, and here, blogging ideas as “tools”, in dozens of articles nobody read…

#aftertherain #city #chairs #france #bwstyleoftheday #bw

 

How OK is it to be a muse ? Questions

A Muse ?

OK I have some questions…

Is a muse aware of… being a muse to another person ? Why do we think about a woman when we see the word “muse” ? How could we analyse the alchemy between a muse and the person she inspires ? Can you be a muse for a long time ? The other person grows thanks to the muse, gets inspiration. Is it the same for the muse herself ? Can you be muse without drama ? Is a muse a disturbing person for the partner ? Are you a muse because of the way you talk ? Listen ? Act ? Can you imagine a couple of muses ? A muse to a muse and vice versa ? Is a muse a helping hand (“just climb this stair, mate”) ? Muses are often seen in the Art territory : can you be a muse for life ?

Send me other questions, dear reader and muses : I’ll add them to this list. jeanpascal at wanadoo.fr

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Reading the News… in old magazines

Diogenes Syndrome is a curse of course, a disease. Some people live like isolated monsters in accumulations of “things”, papers, books, whatever. I don’t live in domestic squalor and I don’t collect old candies wrappers, but I admit I keep too many things in the basement, including… boxes of old magazines.

From time to time I open one box and bring two dozens of old Pop-Rock, movies or news magazines at work. At lunch time, I read them. It provides me many little things :

  • I eventually have small talks with people around me, surprised to see me reading  news from 2001. They think I’m a weirdo, and it’s a good feeling, I don’t know why.
  • I get the satisfaction to realise that the “big pop groups” I disliked in the past vanished into oblivion. Bim. So there !
  • I sometimes google some personalities to see how they are and what they do “now”, fifteen years after. It’s full of surprises, random changes, new roads, and disillusions…
  • I save money : instead of buying a great new book at 24 Euros, I can find, eleven or fifteen years later, a pocket second hand one at 90 cents.
  • Therefore, this makes me often think about what we all find “important” today…

Voilà ! Isn’t it a bliss, from time to time, to get under the surface of the “news” ?

Tool : Why couldn’t we use this “state of mind” for what we have now ? What if we imagine “What will this be in fifteen years” ? In entertainment, but also for our struggles and problems. Isn’t life short ? Is THIS (whatever it is) sooo important, really ?

#blackandwhite #tree #shadowsonthewall

Jungle Syndrome of Mahler, Proust, Marx

I call “Jungle Syndrome” the feeling you have in front of the big-size-map of some masterpieces (or so-called), or artworks. I chose three examples : Mahler, Proust, and Marx. You can add anything you want : French Revolution, American Civil War, Napoleon, Italian Renaissance, ou alors tout Picasso.

Something, in these, is “too much”. Trop complexe, too rich, too interesting, too big. You pick a leaf, then you have a tree, a forest, a universe. Gasp !

I tried many times to explore Mahler‘s music. The last time I’ve been very persistent, reading about him and his life, watching concerts, listening to different versions of the symphonies. And hooo : it’s too big for me, too complex. 9 long symphonies…

Proust is the same. Thousands of RICH pages. Each page contains style ideas, it’s gorgeous, interesting, full of ideas and subtilities. And it’s lonnnng.

It becomes, each time, a strange weave between boredom and fascination (oui, c’est possible !), as if you could really guess that there are treasures and marvels to discover if you insisted. Efforts necessary, this time ? Yes.

Each time, I let it go. I did !

I did not try Marx, and just a little Picasso. These can keep you busy for YEARS !

You can give up. You will. But you can keep exploring, as well. Just to see what happens. Persistence.

This month I was trying to explain Proust to a friend. So I chose a random page and I began to read. The style was gorgeous, and the idea expressed in this single page let us floored in awe. It sparkled in the conversation. It triggered a urging desire to go on with Proust.

A few months ago I listened to Mahler a lot. This was exhausting for my ears, even if they are trained to listen to classical music. But I insisted, because I was amazed by the beauty of some moments. I was like in front of a complex architecture, trying to find a door.

I found one, then another one, then a movement, then… I kept finding gold nuggets.

Tools : In somes cases, even if it seems complicated, “too much” something, you feel it’s worth it, insist, be persistent. There’s gold, tons of gold : you maybe have to keep digging and find your own doors, find your gold.

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The Casualness Shades of Orchestras

I’m reading a book about orchestras. I liked the pages explaining how different do great orchestras really sound from one another, that’s interesting.

Try this article : World Greatest Orchestras

Cultural differences made me smile. Some American or German musicians hired by French orchestras were disturbed by our… frenchness. Instrumentalists are chatting before rehearsals, par exemple, ohlalaaaaa…

It’s a matter of shades, though. Italian instrumentalists think we are much more rigorous… Makes sense, no ?

In an American orchestra, everybody is on time, all the musicians did their homework, and nobody talks. Not a word. Riccardo Muti, coming from… Italy, was a bit surprised by this American “engine ready” effectiveness and once said to the orchestra : “You know, you can talk !”.

The author tries to be culturally fair. American or German (among others) orchestras are fast and effective, and French orchestras need more rehearsals to prepare a symphony, for example.

He says that the result is great, clean, and pretty much always the same in the United States. They do the job ! In France, orchestras are less like a perfect car and more like a living surprising entity. They do the job too, and sometimes it’s becoming amazing !

Leonard Bernstein always loves French orchestras for this reason : they follow his craziness if he tries something unusual. And… the author says than French instrumentalists are very quiet and attentive when the chief in Giulini or Haitink. Errrr…

Yes, I can link this arcticle to this other one, about following damn rules

So let’s say we can, but we don’t !

After all, the Eiffel Tower has no function, other than a symbol. The Eiffel Tower is uneffective.

I think that in France we just like to do things slightly improperly. Yesss we can cross the road out of the zebras, if there’s no car around. We really do that ! Ohlalala…

Lever : This lever is called “Obey” and has two ways. If something’s boring in your project, because it’s clean and right on the road, pull it here. Try something French. Add wine too.

Josef Krips, a great conductor, once said something like “With half more discipline, the French orchestra would become the best of the world”. Maybe you need half more discipline, then. Pull the lever there. Thank you America !

Day off with #orchestra #pluriel
Day off with #orchestra #pluriel

How to go back to quiet silent daydreaming summers ?

When I was a teenager, let’s say in 1981, there were 3 channels on French TV (TF1, Antenne 2 et France 3). Music was on some LPs, and there was no Internet, no Pokemon Go, no cellphone. Some rare rich fathers had an Apple II. The Sinclair ZX-81 was just showing its nose…

Useless to say that when you got something “interesting” into your hands, it was amazing.

I remember that summer ! I was 15, and I got this Casio Programmable Calculator FX-702P, and I asked my parents to order a few L’Ordinateur de Poche, a magazine about these new “Pocket Computers”.

I read them, re-read them, tried every Basic program, and spent weeks trying to program a standard Battleship – not the game, just a way to “place the boats” (one the size of 4 squares, two 3 squares, three 2 squares and four 1 square – the submarines !). The memory of my Casio was too small so I had think about a way to optimize it (interlacing 2 loops, etc).

This summer I borrowed some LPs. The Blue Beatles sampler, with the lyrics, kept me busy for weeks.

I remember me as a kid watching clouds for hours in summers. La rêverie is a pretty good French word for daydreaming (we could say “dreamery”, right ?). Getting bored, at this time, at this age, was triggering imagination instead of Netflix…

Slumber or Torpor ? I think I didn’t find the good english word to translate our “torpeur”. When the sun is brûlant, days are long and quiet, tout est calme et you don’t have any mission or money to make/win. You watch clouds and just try to be happy. You play frisbee, you watch ants, you bike with friends. Les merveilleux nuages…

Lever : You really can find back this state. You just have to cut THREE things : TV, Smartphone, and Internet. Nothing much after all…

Then you will have to search in the old “real” world (books, things in attics, CDs and LPs). This provides a bouquet of another things : a slower focused brain rhythm, a hunger, a desire to create maybe, some imagination, some creativity.

It can also trigger a big boredom too. Well… C’est la vie !

 

#casio #vintage #fx702p #calculator
#casio #vintage #fx702p #calculator

Sick Songs of Abba & Bee Gees

Every pop music lover knows Abba & Bee Gees. Long careers, huge success, big hits, etc.

You don’t need to be a big connaisseur to notice something special about them. Behind the good music and arrangements, you can feel some melancholy. It’s maybe their secret after all ?

And sometimes some sickness too. Some nastiness maybe ? (I wanted to say “meaniness” but it does not seem to be english…).

I like to find a lever pushed a little too far in this kind of mainstream pop-music. A quiet-disturbing element, a new harsh sound, a instrumental bridge… weirdly made.

Take the first 20 seconds of Abba’s Gimme Gimme Gimme, listen loud, and admit you’ve never heard that :

Gimme Gimme Gimme

If you go from 02:50 to 3:40 in the same track, you realise that you have a mean bizarre robotic synthetic loop, before a feverish orchestra and some haunted voices… Not that common in pop music !

Bee Gee’s Liar is similar… Every line is like weirdoed by strange harmonies, risky notes, and so within a clear disco structure you’ve got a… sick piece of song, like a dark ill version of their music.

Liar

Lever : How could we call it ? You have a project, a painting, a music, a concept, and you think you’re lost, too comfortable. Take a lever, push it too far. Go 130%. Go mean, tensed, unappropriate, whatever. Add too much pepper in your soup. OK, let’s call it Lever-130.

#sky #sun #architecture #clouds
#sky #sun #architecture #clouds

 

Why I’m so fascinated by the Americans…

I am and I will always be fascinated by the Americans.

I have pinned a map of the USA in my bathroom. I wander over it daily. I own books and books about America. Abraham Lincoln. Civil War. History. Daily life. Photographs. Culture. Etc…

We sometimes accuse Americans to be centered on their own country, but I didn’t even know that Boston was near the ocean, and nobody in France have a clue of what happens today in Albuquerque or Phoenix ! So there…

I love Americans because when you talk with them you quickly go to a place when you realise that they all come from Europa (or elsewhere, OK). They’re American but they come from Ireland, Norway, Germany or… France. Bonjour !

I love Americans because they… love the French. I don’t know really why. C’est l’amour ! Because we helped them in their Revolution ? Or maybe because of the food, or the way we take our time, I don’t know. And I think they’re fascinated by the way we talk, the way we use the letter “r” (try to say “ARBRE”, please) : Voilà, enfin, donc, encore, and… Allez !

I love Americans because they live in places I saw in movies (they go to the restaurant in Bodega bay (Hitchcock : The Birds), grow in Kansas (Wizard of Oz), or talk in Manhattan (whatever…)). They invented William Faulkner, Joseph Losey and Saul Leiter. And they saved our French ass in 1944 !

Of course, sometimes we don’t understand them quite well, because of religion, or the guns, or Trump, but “it is what it is”. I love their idioms. When I hear “Shit hits the fan”, I understand it quite well !

I love to learn words like “to elope”, “Intertwined” or “Rattletrap”. I love to learn strange things like “I’m a hop skip and a jump away from”.

Learning a  new language (and getting deeper into it) is a huge pleasure for me. So many times I’ve been helped by Americans about : subtilities, idioms, pronunciation, etc.

Americans, I noticed, have a special way to listen. If you take a breath because you want to talk, they immediatly “stop and listen”, and say “Sorry”, or “Go on”, which is a bit weird at times : we French constantly interrupt each other. Is it rude ?…

The cultural differences between France and America is really interesting to explore. I learned one day that a “dating kiss” is really usual in America, and you can date-try a few guys, no problem. In France, a… hum… a “french kiss” means a lot more. You have an example here or here. Kiss, in France, means exclusive love. Voilà !

Oh, on last thing. In America, if you shake hands with someone, it seems it’s like a Contract written in Gold under some God. In France, when you shake hands after a conversation, it’s more a way to say goodbye and “We’re OK, we’re in peace”. That can be tricky at times !

We like freedom too much of obey some “rules” with the forever color. And if we have to, we… strike !

#kansas #usa #map #frenchtoolbox #wizard #oz
#kansas #usa #map #frenchtoolbox #wizard #oz

The 25% Casualness of Movie Masters

Three-quarter Strength.  A work that is meant to give an impression of health should be produced with three-quarters, at the most, of the strength of its creator.  If he has gone to his farthest limit, the work excites the observer and disconcerts him by its tension.  All good things have something lazy about them and lie like cows in the meadow.

Nietzsche – Human, All Too Human

If you understand Nietzsche and you push this concept on the movies-area, you’ll find that there are many “too much tension” (and too many ideas) movies in the world. They are great, but only real masters manage to reach what I could call the Three-Quarter Strength Quality, merci Nietzsche. Casualness or nonchalance ? What is it exactly ?

Intention of effect kills the effect. When all levers (virtuosity, music, speed, invention, scénario, whatever) are pulled, it’s interesting, fascinating, intense, but you miss something. It’s exhausting

You find the Three-Quarter Strength Quality in some movies of Fellini (oh these lights moving on the walls in 8 1/2), in Godard (are these really “errors” in Breathless ?), even in Spike Lee’s work. There are useless dialogs in some Wes Anderson’s movies. The cheap budget of Serenity is totally accepted. Think also about all the oblique explanations in Twin Peaks. John Ford has his own way of “to not insist” on a good scene. Add John Huston’s Prizzi’s Honor. Grifters (Frears). Etc…

It’s a easyness, a casualness, an actor taking his time, a scenario which does not explain everything, a flaw in a camera movement, some rules not really followed at times…

When you know, you’ll notice this in many great movies. It’s powerful !

Tools & Levers : My, it’s easy to understand. Apply this Nietzsche thought to your work, your invention, your writing. Be smart, 25% casual, breathe, and you go girl !

(and OK I’m french, I wrote this with a little more than 25% of nonchalance, sorry)

#church
#church