Proust : “Beautiful books are written in a kind of foreign language”

“Beautiful books are written in a kind of foreign language”.

 

Isn’t it true? What about other textfields? Articles? Theater plays? Dialogs in a movie? Blogs?

It’s about style, but not only. It’s about strangeization (adding little strange elements in the words flow to raise the reader’s eyebrows) but not only.

 

I blogged for eight years in French, and then now I write in English, precisely because it’s not my native language. I have to stay simple, to let go, I have to admit I’m not skilled enough to write as I would have liked to. I wrote an article about it : Writing in another language.

…until I realized it can be pleasant or funny for English readspeakers to read my warped little articles here :

  1. I make mistakes (I’m sorry for that!)
  2. I make mistakes on purpose
  3. I add French words in the phrases (so there), et voilà !
  4. I often hesitate between two words and then I aggregate them in a forfun way…

 

But I think Proust says more. I like this idea of inventing a slightly weird style in your own native language, when you write. This is a little string in the harp of writing creativity, I agree, but to me it’s an important string.

When I discover a new blog, I explore the ideas it presents, of course, but I really LOVE to find little leaning elements, the raising eyebrows kind…

written in a kind of foreign language

Yes sometimes it goes a bit far. I remember my shock when I began to read Faulkner, with his risky unpunctuated flows of conscience pages. Or Joyce, of course.

 

In France, the infinite, complex and delicious pages of Marcel Proust, the false spoken style of Céline, the gorgeous style of Colette or Jean Giono, the toxic pleasures of Marguerite Duras. I’m French. I read them in an awe, surprised and amazed by how they dare to write.

I do wonder how translators try to… transmit this in English!

 

Tools :

Is it a tool? Do you think about it when you write? How?

 

I could hands can see cooling fingers invisible swan-throat where less than Moses rod the glass touch tentative not to drumming lean cool throat drumming cooling the metal the glass full overfull cooling the glass the fingers flushing sleep leaving the taste of dampened sleep in the long silence of the throat I returned up the corridor, waking the lost feet in whispering battalions in the silence, into the gasoline, the watch telling its furious lie on the dark table.

Faulkner, The Sound and the Fury

 

(yes it’s about a guy in the night searching of the carafe of water in darkness)

 

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<< Virginia Woolf would sit down to thank a friend for sending her a slab of nougat from Saint-Tropez, but, put in mind of France by the package, she soon found herself talking only of the novel. “My great adventure is really Proust,” she wrote, “I am in a state of amazement; as if a miracle were being done before my eyes. How, at last, has someone solidified what has always escaped—and made it too into this beautiful and perfectly enduring substance? One has to put the book down and gasp. The pleasure becomes physical—like sun and wine and grapes and perfect serenity and intense vitality combined.” >>

 

 

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First Ever & Hitherto Unheard, a words combination game

Fool’s dew – Heartened letterbox – Heavy-headed butterfly

Well that’s an easy game, keeping in mind that a little minibell could ring somewhere each time you pronounce a new combination of words. Ding!

Today you can even check with Google. Then you could be surprised : I googled “grapes in fire” and I found one. And I was wrong to imagine a Ding! with my “heavy-headed butterfly” : there’s one in a poem – by a Kathy Walden – with this one.

You get easier unheards when you :

  1. stick words together
  2. watch names on a “not my country” map and translate each
  3. combine words from different languages
  4. try to invent titles
  5. random play with a dictionary
  6. poetize
  7. combine three remote-fields words

 

What’s the purpose, dear?

Invention? A game to be “aware” of words? Seeds for poetry? A tool to find good article titles? An invitation to learn other languages?

Butterfly (flying butter, really??) in French is Papillon, in Spanish Mariposa. Play, combine, invert, etc…

 

Let write a poem (or a country music song, lalère) :

Hey heavy-headed butterfly
Grapes are on fire in the West

My heartened letterbox awaits
The fool’s dew for y’all

And a caterpillar cheek kiss

Are you all safe?

 

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Non Finito : Inchoateness in #Art

There’s a Wikipedia page about sculpture : Non Finito. We could begin with this.

Non finito is a sculpting technique meaning that the work is unfinished. Italian in origin, it literally means “not finished”. Non finito sculptures appear unfinished because the artist only sculpts part of the block, the figure sometimes appearing to be stuck within the block of material.

An unfinished piece of Art can be caused by the death of the artist, obviously, but now it’s also an esthetics purpose. You can imagine many ways of reading it :

  • Showing you a little of the act of creation
  • A failure, fatigue
  • No more money/no more inspiration
  • A refusal to decide it is “done”
  • A way to say it could be improved indefinitely
  • Impossibility to find perfection
  • Something finished or “too beautiful” is exhausting, disagreeable
  • It makes the audience think and wander within the “what could have happened”

 

In some fields, the “never finished” thing is constant : there are, for example, no finished Cathedrals in France. And I should explore it about Orson Welles, for example, who constantly seemed to be away and off with the idea of finishing and editing a movie.

Of course, there are problems with that concept. The “unfinished” thing can make the artist appear as a smart-ass doing is “non finito” thing. If it’s a trend to do this, what’s the point?

“This can be finished later” : some composers (or theater plays writers) constantly work on their stuff, and Proust, the French writer, is well known for his “quillings” : he added and added hundreds of little papers, adding fragments of texts to the existing text, and, as says Wikipedia : Proust died before he was able to complete his revision of the drafts and proofs of the final volumes.

In fact, it’s difficult for an artist to know, therefore to decide, when a piece of art is DONE. Some artists, like the painter Turner, decided to come back to work after a long time, and to put it further. Thus, you can finish is… many times.

Of course, this makes you think about the way it’s done. You can work back on a poem, even on a movie, but it’s harder to do it on an album – I read an interview of Peter Gabriel who was telling that he would love to redo some of his CDs. It can be remixed, remastered, but the record companies would unlikely allow him to change them really.

Mike Oldfield did it with Tubular Bells. He said in an hilarious interview that the original album was full of mistakes and flaws, so he redid it completely with a perfect sound and digital recording. Decades after the 1973 one, the new version was a success, but after a few months, the good old one was back on the shelves…

Tools & Dials :

What about YOUR art? How do you blog? How do you write? When do you know it’s over? Do you ask someone? Do you think about it if you paint?

Thanks for reading!

(So sorry for my bad English)

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Instagram : pleasesoft

 

 

 

 

 

Gleanpickupping seeds & tools in a Gidon Kremer interview

In a French grey morning of August, I’ve had my coffee with two good slices of brioche, frame window staring, in front of an ominous sky, at the cut out moving trees in the wind, shhhh.

Mind wandering…

According to your job, your availability, your passions, you have different way of “entering contact with reality” :

  • A photographer type will watch around him with the “Can I take a picture here, when, from where?”.
  • A musician type will analyze some new song he hears, decorticating it like an alarm-clock.
  • A poet type will find a good word in a book then might begin to weave a poem in his head.
  • The climber type will watch these city walls… etc…

You… just have to put your “mode on” (and YES, you can have many “modes on” ready in your head, haeccity oblige).

 

I read an interesting interview of Gidon Kremer, violonist, in a classical music magazine. I read this interview with two modes on.

  1. First was : “Find maybe some music to listen to” (I found Schumann, Weinberg, Arvo Pärt, and a Prokofiev melody)…
  2. The other one was my blogger mode : “What little structure, what tool, what tropism can I find in his interview?”.

 

So, well, I learned things about Gidon Kremer himself, his friends, career, evolutions, wonders, etc. He’s an interesting person, the typical clever artist (for me he’s a cousin of Bill Bruford, the drummer).

Eventually, my second “mode on” found quotes, wonders, seeds to plant (here or there) and to meditate on :

  • We live a physical house, but also in some spiritual homes, other “places” we belong to.
  • Playing very few notes is more difficult than pure virtuosity.
  • When you find difficult to play or understand something, you maybe need to find parallel structures in other artists or situations : comparison enrichment.
  • You can explore a field (movies, music) with artists, eras, but also labels or studios, producers, etc. Let’s write something about ECM.
  • Should an artist listen or study what he did in his past? (Kremer never listens what he recorded in previous years).
  • When an artist collaborates, there’s a need of “mutual listening”.
  • Sometimes we miss something. Friends around us indicate things or persons but we don’t listen – when we maybe should.
  • Then and therefore : what is to catch up? How do we? What is “to redeem”, how?
  • “Seeking perfection is the enemy of beauty”

 

Etc etc. I found a few more. Whatever. Each line is a door to a new room, which is full of questions. How to drive “mutual listening”? What becomes virtuosity with very little notes to play? Where the frontier to find between catching up and letting go? Etc…

I found this too : when you have one or many “modes of exploration”, it becomes difficult sometimes to be in direct contact. You ALWAYS have a filter on, and that can be exhausting!

We have to find back a way to quit our introvert-analyzer inner computer to… touch things. I suppose it’s what great artists can do, having the great ability to move it like a lever, a slider, from 0 to 100%, from “I know this without any words” to “Analyze and peel it off to understand it”. Where is yours?

 

Thanks for reading!

 

To write this article, I needed music. I chose Weinberg by Kremer – of course. The YouTube link is under the sleeve, downstairs :

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I wrote every single 510 articles of this blog from a porch in Santa Rosa, California. And you?

Our brain has its own topology.

I wrote for 4 years for a Swiss company in Zurich. I translated texts from English to French, almost on a daily basis. When I was writing these, I remember VERY CLEARLY that my mind was on a very precise place : a field, next to the house I grew up in. Grass.

As a kid, I played on this field for years – maybe from 2 to 16 years old,  you see? Frisbee, soccer, hide and seek. I remember the light in summer nights, in cold October. I remember playing with my brother with a polystyrene-winged glider. I remember watching Epeira spiders, playing with firecrackers, model cars or marbles in the sandox which was behind the privet hedge…

I wrote for four years for this company in my apartment, but my mind – I really don’t know or understand why – was in the lights of this little field. Childhood linked. Every paragraph.

Now I’m 50 and I blog as I can, in English, on WordPress, since a couple of years. I really like it and I’d say it’s really the only way I found to stay alive, standing up, a buoy. It’s very little, but it is what it is : I have a little more than 110 real followers.

When I write, in English, for this blog, I’m in Santa Rosa, California. I have never been in this place. I just saw a few dozen pictures of it. It’s a porch, behind a house. When I write, there’s nobody around, I’m alone. But I see it constantly. I see the sky. The flowers. The wooden floor, the lanterns. A little round table. Doors which lead to the inside. I’m here, writing, mostly in the sun. It’s a GREAT place, and I’m happy to live here… when I write.

In reality I am in a good apartment in the North of France. It’s quiet and full of light. Thank you.

My mind, though, is in California. Why? I don’t know! It’s my brain who decides that. It puts me there. And it STAYS here. Probably an ideal place to be happy?

 

Do YOU also have a place where your brain sits when you write? Am I alone?

Thanks for reading!

 

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“#Blog for yourself and not to please an audience” – wait a minute…

I read many times about big success youtubers who “lost their soul” because they stopped being themselves – instead of it, they began to blog to “please the audience”. That’s baaad! This makes sense, right? Bending their style or their personality to what they supposed to know about the viewers is probably wrong. And each time, the article I read told it this way. Bad bad bad. Nah. On the naughty step!

When I think of that, though, I hear a bell in my head. That’s so precisely evident that my senses are on alert. I know, it’s a reflex.

There’s something similar in poetry. The “poet” is supposed to be “inspired” (by what?), and peeing gorgeous metaphors because… he’s a genius. BUT even the greatest poets agree to say that there’s probably a critic inside their magic brain. Like “another guy” inside, who analyzes and channels/canalyzes the flow.

Let’s listen to Baudelaire :

I pity those poets who are guided by instinct alone: I regard them as incomplete. In the spiritual life of the former a crisis inevitably occurs when they feel the need to reason about their art, to discover the obscure laws in virtue of which they have created, and to extract from this study a set of precepts whose divine aim is infallibility in poetic creation. It would be unthinkable for a critic to become a poet; and it is impossible for a poet not to contain within him a critic. Therefore the reader will not be surprised at my regarding the poet as the best of all critics.

Charles Baudelaire

This is a perfect pattern, a tool for this article :

Here, we’re searching for a frontier between “I write for myself” and “I write for my audience”.

  • If you write 100% for yourself and you’re successful, good to you! You can stop reading this article and have subtle sex with your muse. Take your time, she likes it.
  • If you write for your audience, you’re a backwoodsman losing yourself on the paths of wrongness and your audience will sense it. You forgot why they loved you. Kill yourself.

BUT

Think about Baudelaire, our French poet. You are probably aware that you never REALLY write for yourself : you, from the beginning, took care of the readers TOO. You analyze, you think, you weave your words, YOU are your first audience, this is it. It’s a radioactive pattern. You write, you work daily, you throw a bunch of arrows, you write for you AND you take care of your audience. You want to be loved, that’s all! You know the trees, and you also know there’s a forest. You’re great, because you dance with both. That’s great!

Thanks for reading!

 

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Instagram : mariakdolores

 

Writers & Bloggers : Pleasure of bad books?

(Sorry for my wobbly French today…)

Bad books (and blogs) can be useful for a writer – but I suppose it’s a low level thing.

  • It (possibly) can make your brain move, like this :
    • I would have written it better,
    • in another way,
    • I would have added this and that, etc…
  • It makes you angry, and you can try to use this strange gas-oil which is anger.
  • You can say that the author is a spirit-enemy (the useful thing of feeling or “inventing an enemy” is an old trick), it triggers your mobilization. Fight him… and write.
  • Any negative feeling (next to anger is bitterness, hate, sarcasms, etc) can be used too. Your clockworkbrain is activated. Some guys (in your head) will step into the breach. Geronimo!
  • After all, you could maybe find a good idea or a pleasant formulation in a bad book or a bad blog, it’s really the idea of a seed found within dust and rocks. Steal it and make it grow your own way, haha!

 

I suggest you prepare and foresee an antidote (a good book) – to clean your head, by Jove!

This, of course, is an exercise. You can not separate books and blogs between “good ones and bad ones”. It’s all relative, silly. It depends.

You have to consider that what YOU write can also be considered the same way by another reader. Your wordings as a bad place, as a bad example, inspiring better things? Awwweee! That’s a good (low level) thing, right? 🙂

 

Thanks for reading!

 

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