Keep a part for later – Masterpieces from Masters

If you’re an explorer, you sometimes discover an artist you… adore.

It’s so good that you can’t resist : here you are exploring the whole chest, pigging out the whole thing. We are all lost souls, craving for…

But sometimes you climb “one more degree”. It’s so good that you decide something.

Keep a part for later. More in reserve. Some gas left in the tank.

This is what I did with a few masters : Puccini, Chekhov, Faulkner, Borges, Jünger. Who are yours?

I know Manon and La Bohème by heart, and pretty well some of other Puccini’s operas, like Tosca or Butterfly, and one third of Trittico. Each time I listen to a part of Turandot I’m floored… but I keep it for later!

Chekhov wrote hundreds of short stories. I have shelves of that guy! But I never read “everything”. It’s the same for Jünger or Borges, or Faulkner.

  • Keep the pleasure to discover something new from a Master you love.
  • One day it’s maybe to late : you’re dead. Or you’re not interested any more.
  • You sometimes don’t remember if you read this or that. Even better, right?
  • There’s a middle choice : listen or read once, and then wait for years.
  • Years after, you read or listen… another way.
  • Choose an infinite area. Restaurants in Paris for example. Hmmm?

Thanks for reading!

hallieartwork_-__everything_about_you_sparks-_if_they_stuck_you_in_the_dark__you_d_glow___

 

 

Instagram : hallieartwork

Advertisements

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

 

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.

2015-02-21_1424538248

Enregistrer

What does Manon Lescaut want?

Manon Lescaut is an Italian opera composed by G. Puccini in the 1890s, from a French novel named “L’Histoire du chevalier des Grieux et de Manon Lescaut“.

Act 1 : Des Grieux is a melancholic student, outside, with friends, in France. A coach arrives, bringing Manon, a young woman on her way to convent (forced by her father), and Géronte, an old man who wants to abduct Manon and live with her in Paris. Des Grieux understands what’s happening, falls in love, and Manon and him escape in Géronte’s coach. Voilà !

Act 2 : Curiously, Manon has already left des Grieux and is living a relatively luxurious life with the old Géronte. Etc… Yes, etc !

There’s a huge, gap, an ellipsis, between Act 1 and 2 : what happened to the young couple ? Why did Manon choose Géronte, quitting her young lover ? Money ? Bore ? Stupidity ?

Pappano on Manon’s Music

As a Puccini lover, I watched many versions of this opera. And I found out something, a question appeared :

What does Manon Lescaut want?

So I began to explore books and the web to find out. Kiri Te Kanawa (with a marvellous Placido Domingo as Des Grieux) is a splendid, crystal innocent Manon. She floats onto what life brings to her, like a little cork on the sea. Elsewhere, Astrid Weber plays an upstart woman, mocking secretly and using Des Grieux as a purpose to escape her fate.

These are two very interesting ways to interpret the character. Because you will fill the blank (ellipsis) in VERY different ways !

From this to that, I saw many ways to put Manon to life. Is she a punk ? A feminist ? An idiot ? Does she choose anything ? What do you think ?

Manon and Des Grieux in Act II

Manon is a blurry character. We often don’t understand her. Her behavior is complex, living, changing all the time : she is a weathercock !

In Act I, she’s a sad, frightened country girl sent off to a convent. In Act II, she’s the consort of a wealthy old man, sarcastic and bored. This activity doesn’t address Act III, where she’s in prison for allegedly stealing from that old man, but Act IV finds her experiencing the consequences: wandering helpless, full of regrets, in a vast American desert.

Yes that’s sad ! Yes She’ll die ! Who was Manon Lescaut ?

Libretto in english

 

Tool : Ah c’est tellement passionnant when you don’t have all the keys. When a single glance can change all the story ! Who’s evil ? You don’t know. What if in your work you didn’t give “all the keys” to the audience ? Chop one or two, just to see…

 

Tool : One of the pleasure of Classical Music is to compare versions. You can have days and days of pleasure.

Dial : Another article is needed : “In Love with a Project”. Soon.

 

 

 

The Cauldron Method (or How to Be Casual with Masterpieces)

OK I’m french. My english is a frenglish, it’s rusty and wobbly, et voilà. Try me, though. I’ll do my best. I promise. If sometimes it’s too bad, just laugh at me or roll your eyes.

In front of impressive masterpieces you can find yourself very SHY. It happened to me a few years ago with La Recherche, by Proust : In Search of Lost Time, a pack of seven big books, you know, MMMasterpiece of Masterpieces, blabla. I bought it and never dared to begin ! How to read this ? With what kind of solemnity ? Terrifying ! (I’d add : poor you, if you have to read this in English and deal with the choice of translation).

You may also have this feeling in front of a domain you know rich, but you don’t know a penny about it. I had to handle this when I decided to open the door of the Opera territory. From where to begin ? Which composer ? Mozart ? Wagner ? Who ?

Shy as a little chicken in its shell, I began to read books about Proust. In one of them the author was angry at me. Really ! He was saying something like I was silly to be solemn about La Recherche, advising me to shup up and read what I want, in the order I want, and to let go “annoying pages” (!). It was as if a good father was talking to me, so I obeyed, and it was perfect.

After trying a little Verdi (boriiiing) I searched for the “next Italian composer”, found Puccini, and I… didn’t know what to do. Each opera was very long ! And there were many…

I remembered Proust and I tried not to worry too much : How to choose a first opera to listen to ? Director ? I began to wander randomly on YouTube and I listened to things with  little “I don’t care” ears. Of course, it worked.

I remember it in the most crystallest clearest way : Manon Lescaut was singing somewhere in my headphones as I was writing an email. The music then began to stop me. One time. Two times. Three. I had to really stop writing, like “Heyyyyy ??!”. Le plaisir was slipcrawling into my brain.

I got it ! The wire. I pulled it, and now I love Manon Lescaut, and Il Trittico, and La Bohème, etc.

Tools :

The Cauldron Method means two things :

1/ Don’t care that much about Masterpieces (with big M capital). You won’t hurt them ! These are not Cathedrals of Culture. Let go. Breathe. Find your own entrance. A lateral one. Then the kingdoms of pleasure are yours.

2/ Loosen your belt. And your tie. Be casual. The Masterpiece is probably a real one. IT WILL CATCH YOU ANYWAY.

2015-09-05_1441456688

 

The Abba/Puccini syndrome

OK I’m french. My english is a frenglish, it’s rusty and wobbly, et voilà. Try me, though. I’ll do my best. I promise. If sometimes it’s too bad, just laugh at me or roll your eyes.

Wiki says : “A syndrome is a set of medical signs and symptoms that are correlated with each other and, often, with a specific disease.”

The Abba/Puccini syndrome is easy to explain. It’s a misunderstanding. Or a miscomprehension, allez savoir !

Abba was VERY popular, but a whole bunch of people hated them, rockers, indie critics, etc. Today most of the haters are… in a awe, they are embarrassed, they say “OMG they were, in fact, so good”. On every floor : Melodies. Hits. Production. Voices. Modernity. Melancholy. Arrangements.

Abba : I’m a Marionette

Puccini is the most played opera composer in the world. La Bohème, says Wikipedia, “remains one of the most frequently performed operas ever written”. Victim of its own popularity, he’s often seen as the composer of opera “hits”, like Nessun Dorma. And, at many moments, he’s obviously Italian (ce côté éperdu et ensoleillé du Nord de l’Italie). And this HIDES the modernity of his music. Puccini was admired by composers like Schoenberg, Ravel, and Stravinsky. Experiments and strange harmonic progressions colour the fabric of his music. You just have to listen what is “under”, or watch closely his funny way to drive harmony like a racing car :

Beginning of Manon Lescaut

Dial : Some artists can be victims of popularity, but this syndrome is double worse : success hides sophistication.

2015-07-23_1437644447