Because of “you”, this French Verlaine’s poem can not be translated in English.

1 Tu or Vous?

You know that in France we have two different “YOU”.

  • It’s “VOUS” for the people you don’t know very well, your teacher, strangers, etc.
  • And we say “TU” to siblings, lovers, parents and good friends.

I know, it’s a bit complicated when you speak English. Your “How are you?” becomes “Comment vas-tu?” to my brother and my friends, and “Comment allez-vous?” to my neighbors, my mother-in-law, etc.

Sooo…  How are vous? or How are tu? See?

Of course you get that it’s very important in France, because vous is more polite, creates a safe distance, etc. As a French, we are easily offended by the wrong or too early “tu”. Some web pages targeting teenagers use the “tu” communication (in emails, for example), which can be tricky and over-familiar to many.

 

2 Verlaine

There’s an classic poem in France, named Colloque Sentimental, which begins like that :

Dans le vieux parc solitaire et glacé
Deux formes ont tout à l’heure passé.

In the lonely old park’s frozen glass
Two shadows lately passed.

Ha! You see the mood! These two were lovers, and they now talk about the past. Of course it becomes a cruel game between the wax lyrical guy and his cold ex.
So here is a part of their dialog :

– Te souvient-il de notre extase ancienne ?
– Pourquoi voulez-vous donc qu’il m’en souvienne ?

– Ton coeur bat-il toujours à mon seul nom ?
Toujours vois-tu mon âme en rêve ? – Non.

Ah ! les beaux jours de bonheur indicible
Où nous joignions nos bouches ! – C’est possible.

‘Do you recall our former ecstasies?’
‘Why do you want me to remember that?’
 
‘Does your heart still beat at my name alone?’
‘Is it always my soul you see in dream?’ – ‘No’.
 
‘Oh the lovely days of unspeakable mystery,
When our mouths met!’ – ‘Maybe.’

 

3 Translating the You?

Look closer at this one (you see me coming). The man asks :

– Te souvient-il de notre extase ancienne ? ‘Do you recall our former ecstasies?’

“Te souvient-il” is a formal way to say “Tu te souviens”. It’s the TU form of a close relation.

The woman’s answer is :

– Pourquoi voulez-vous donc qu’il m’en souvienne ?

She uses the VOUS form, speaking to him as a stranger. Putting a distance between them, saying “I don’t know vous very well”. So, the real answer is more like :

Why the fuck do you want me to remember that?

…but this is not poetry, right?

On the web I found :

  • “Why should I remember it at all?”
  • “Why would you have me rake up memories?”
  • “Why ever should you wish me to remember?”

All are correct, and we get her point, right?

BUT there’s no way, in a translation, you can feel the distance she puts using VOUS, instead of the TU she used to say in his arms, in older times.

Now, do you feel the guy tightening heart?

Aaawweeee!

Thanks for reading!

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Paintings : Joseph Lorusso

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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“And he heard how I laughed with you” : Chronicle 6

Happiness is a strange thing. Sometimes we forget to laugh, then we suddenly have someone who’s able to open a box. We laugh. It’s a strange and delicious laugh. It’s THIS box opening. A new sound. Something new. And we laugh.

As a French, I learnt at school that New was pronounced NIEW. Then I talked to Americans, all saying NOO. So now I’m proud to say : “Hey! That’s new!”. Correctly said (noo) and with the “no space between new and the “!”. I find SO interesting that we French are used to add a space here : “It’s new!” -> “C’est nouveau !”.

Today I watched this hippie movie, Hair, with my oldest daughter, and she and I loved it. Then we talked about the fact that last week we watched Forrest Gump. Like if we were studying the second part of the XXth Century of the United States of America, right?

I love this beginning, from Oklahoma to New York :

 

Imagine you live in America, and your street name is in Spanish, your city name is in Spanish and your school’s name is in Spanish. What does it mean? Well, OK, nothing.

I remember my own shock when I realized that San Francisco meant Saint François, and Los Angeles : Les Anges (The Angels, sorry).

I read that a wall between Mexico and the USA would be a little stupid, because Mexican immigrants mainly come by plane. Is that true? Can someone be THAT stupid? I need a lecture.

Tonight I watched a great documentary about one of your best photographer alive : William Eggleston. If you Google Image him you’ll (maybe) understand why I love him so much : he shows (with a fabulous sense of color) something intimate about the USA, he SHOWS something. And this with a “constantly random” attitude (kids, a light, a street, a store, a car), which I adore. I was watching him “hunting” images in this documentary, with a constant “awwweeee” in my mind. The eye of a photographer is something really special. I love that guy. Here are a few pictures :

 

To finish this chronicle here is a good picture I found of Facebook yesterday.

Don’t forget how you laughed. I won’t. Ever.

Have a nice day!

 

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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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“Interstate 80” fantasy #traveling #USA

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interstate_80

I choose this road. 3000 miles. 60 days. Drive 50 miles a day every morning, then leave the Interstate to see what’s around. Drive. Park. Breathe. Watch things, nature, villages, cities, roads, people. Sit somewhere on a bench. Watch. Take pictures too. I could do it.

No, it’s NOT Route 66.

I can’t do it for real, because I’m shy, lazy and broke. Maybe on Google Maps?

It’s traveling without traveling. Maybe when I’ll be stuck in my bed when I’ll be 80 years old. By the way, I found the list of big cities I’d cross over.

I publish this. I have to go, dear readers : I want to visit Joliet, Illinois, now.

“Quad Cities”? Really?

San Francisco, Californie
Oakland, Californie
Sacramento, Californie
Reno, Nevada
Salt Lake City, Utah
Cheyenne, Wyoming
Sidney, Nebraska
North Platte, Nebraska
Kearney, Nebraska
Grand Island, Nebraska
Lincoln, Nebraska
Omaha, Nebraska
Council Bluffs, Iowa
Des Moines
Iowa City
Quad Cities, Iowa et Illinois (Davenport)
Joliet, Illinois
Chicago, Illinois
Toledo, Ohio
Cleveland Ohio
Youngstown, Ohio
Sharon, Pennsylvanie
Clarion, Pennsylvanie
Du Bois, Pennsylvanie
Clearfield, Pennsylvanie
Bellefonte, Pennsylvanie
Williamsport, Pennsylvanie (par l’Interstate 180)
Bloomsburg, Pennsylvanie
Hazleton, Pennsylvanie
Stroudsburg, Pennsylvanie
Delaware Water Gap, Pennsylvanie
New York (par l’Interstate 95)

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