The Queeny Syndrome, according to Houellebecq

“Physical beauty plays here exactly the same role as nobility of blood in the Ancien Régime, and the brief consciousness that they might have at adolescence of the purely accidental nature of their rank rapidly gives way among very pretty young girls to a sensation of innate, natural, and instinctive superiority, which places them completely outside, and far above, the rest of mankind. Everyone around her having as their objective to spare her all difficulties, and to satisfy the least of her desires, a very pretty young girl effortlessly comes to consider the rest of the world as made up of so many servants, herself having the sole task of maintaining her own erotic value—in the expectation of meeting a boy worthy of receiving her homage”.

Michel Houellebecq, The Possibility of an Island

vlcsnap-2017-06-28-16h14m36s589.jpg

La Pléiade are great French books

The “Bibliothèque de la Pléiade” is a French series of books published by Gallimard. As says Wikipedia, the “entry into the Pléiade” is considered a major sign of recognition for an author in France (it’s pretty rare to reach this when you’re alive), though most of the catalog (more than 800 titles) is made of classics, from Jane Austen to William Faulkner, Joyce, Goethe, Kundera or Tanizaki.

La Pléiade offers high quality appearance : leather bound, gold lettering, and a small format which makes them look like small bibles. “The use of bible paper allows the books to contain a high number of pages; it is common for a Pléiade book to contain at least 1500”. I think you have a similar collection in the USA, called Library of America…

Many people collect these books, which, most of the times, are never opened. Each one costs around $70 : they stay on the shelves, sometimes behind a display case…

You can see them like precious untouched books to show you’re wealthy, or you can also choose to consider they are solid pocket practical books. I bought some on eBay for $9.99 : months of bliss! They are a bit torn, but who cares : they are compact, they smell good, they are generous, each book stays open when you let it go of, etc.

I took a few pictures. On the last one you see my pretty cool Ernst Jünger box, a diary written in France during WWII…

Have a nice day!

 

20170623_075256

20170623_075317

20170623_082802.jpg

 

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.

product_9782070385256_195x320.jpg

 

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).

vlcsnap-00059.jpg

 

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.

ang+lee_lust+caution.jpg

 

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”?

wyeth12.jpg

 

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).

Louisiana-Purchase-1803.jpg

 

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 :

vlcsnap-00257

Have a nice day!

 

A woman’s hat on the table – Behaviorism in literature

In a Hemingway short story, the only visual information we have of a couple talking is that she took off her hat and put it on the table. Though, you can almost SEE them when you read the text, because of what they say.

Question :

In a book, do you prefer to read

  1. “She was sad, and about to disconnect herself from reality”
  2. An inner monologue as if she had a microphone in her head
  3. A description of her movements, her mouth, her actions

…showing her disconnected sadness.

Well it’s the same for movies. Do you want to see someone act slowly, randomly and break something, or do you prefer a narrator explaining that “This day, she was bored, sad and electric”?

“Behaviorism is a school of psychology that studies that only behavior that can be observed or measured. It does not include the study of emotions or motives”.

Of course, there are behaviorist writers, who like to SHOW what’s happening instead of EXPLAIN the psychology of characters, as if they were a god.

Tool : What could YOU do about this tool, this pattern, in another field, in poetry, photography, marketing? Show or explain? Do you consider you audience as ignorants you have to tell everything to, or do you trust their mind, their intelligence?

she took off her hat and put it on the table – what does it mean?

Thanks for reading!

 

vlcsnap-00040

 

 

 

 

Decorticate Genius & Laughing Ferrymen

One of the best things, in the world of books and ideas, is to hear a passionate lecture by someone who knows a style, an author, a field, a book.

Some writers are great teachers. Umberto Eco‘s essays are delicious (so Italian!). The literature classes of Nabokov are fabulous (so Russian?). Some guys have this talent to tell you how and why some classics are relevant, interesting and useful even in your little lives.

Le Misanthrope is a French play from the 17th Century. I just read a book from Fabrice Luchini (“Comédie Française, ça a débuté comme ça”), a French actor who tried to write his autobiography, but offered, in fact, pages of passionate lectures about French poetry (Rimbaud), theater (Molière) or prose (Céline), telling us how and why these authors are so enthralling (giving all details he learned as a skilled actor : rhythm, words, sentences, concepts – we French love words, you know that, right?).

Decorticate and peel genius, and offer the recipe to others.

ob_a1db68_capture.JPG

Well, I won’t do it for you now, but I have a slicexample. Luchini evokes Le Misanthrope, a French play by Molière, 17th Century, and a dialog between two friends. One is the misanthrope, angry against humanity (the full text translated in English is here). The other one trying to tame… Let’s see :

Alceste…times I feel suddenly inclined to fly into a wilderness far from the approach of men.

Philinte…let us torment ourselves a little less about the vices of our age, and be a little more lenient to human nature. Let us not scrutinize it with the utmost severity, but look with some indulgence at its failings.

Sometimes with are Alceste, grouchy against fashion bloggers, or people with 4879 friends of Facebook incapable of communicate with real people around, and at other times we are more like Philinte, trying to understand that these people… do what they can, that they struggle a lot, they try to live, to love, to stand up alive. Maybe they’re unbearable, but they’re not guilty! It’s a balance, a swaying, wavering between both. Haecceity! This is life…

One of my pleasure these days is to discover these authors, I could call them the ferrymen.

Who are yours? Who do you lecture? Do you remember the way you laughed with jubilation? With who?

Thanks for reading!

1524456142167494356_40270600.jpg