Foxery is Mêtis’ Cunning

The concept of Mêtis comes from the ancient Greeks. It is a strategy involving “the cunning of intelligence”.

Mêtis is practical, it’s about “what happens”, the moment and the now, changing things, unpredictable things needing immediate action.

It is like a “fight with reality” (or a dance) to maybe save the day, including technical matters: the archetype then becomes the artist, the craftsman, the handyman – with a use of a global knowledge, playing games, inventing solutions.

Cunning against what (or who) is stronger, using hiding and secrets.
Intelligence’s strength stays sometimes in the Art of not being seen, therefore the other is stupid! This includes the use of lures and ploys.

Good examples are the Trojan Horse or archetypal characters like Robin Hood or Zorro.

This idea of “honest cunning” has been written “renarderie” in French, it could be Foxery.

The idea of “now adaptation” and cunnings sounds very Chinese to me.

See: Cunning Intelligence in Greek Culture and Society Jean-Pierre Vernant and Marcel Detienne, and of course the 36 Stratagems.

I’m sorry for my improbable Frenchy English. This was just a casual article, just a seed for thoughts.

Thanks for reading!

At Intervals

There are a few motifs, patterns, I like to call “tools”. It is one of the reasons why my articles are to brief. It’s not about theories, but about little structures.

A single wisdom underlies, though, any idea of “What do I do?”, thanks to Marcus Aurelius, who says that we can divide the world in two camps :

Where we have a power to act, and where we have not.

Then, worry about the first territory only.

In a way, we can consider the second camp (“I know it’s here, and what it’s doing, and I can do nothing about it”) like the WEATHER. The whole society, or war, or idiots around us : there’s little we can do about it. If I want to act, I watch the levers I have within reach, and move thy ass, gallivanter!

Choose your field : job, couple, creativity… It’s just a little analysis game. What are my levers and cursors? What can I move and change?

But there are some periods, states, in life, where your cursors, your levers, are all blocked and stucked. The only one left are all INSIDE you. You are powerless on anything you have around (for example if you’re a lonely prisoner in a cage), but, as they say, “You won’t have my soul”. All you can do is to work inside yourself… And there are many cursors there!

Then…

Signals. At intervals. Intermittently. Hoping they’ll be seen.

Thanks for reading!


Action or Language : are we made to take action in the world?..

The English verb “to act” is a MESS for a French. It means :

  • To act : to behave (se comporter)
  • To act : to take action (agir)
  • To act : pretend to be (faire semblant de)
  • To act : to operate (faire fonctionner)
  • To act : to perform (jouer)

The French question “Sommes-nous fait pour agir ?” means “Are we made to act?”. But it’s not exactly to “take action”, which sounds, I think, “decision, beginning”. Agir, in French is just to act “all along”, to do something.

Then the question could be : “Are we made to do something?”.

Hmmm

Our era is a good environment for this question :

  1. On one side : action, gestures, do, make, use the body, use the world, interact, sex, dance, run, make, eat, walk, build. Gestures!
  2. On the other side : language, thinking, dialogs, dreams, to read, and all the “do without doing” : to drive, to play a game on a screen, to watch a movie, to geek.

Some like 1.

Some prefers 2.

We dance from one to another. And there’s an invariable, an invariant, a fixed point : the body. It calls, it screams, it collars and nabs. Constantly it pushes us (our mind) and pulls us into the world. A recall, sometimes a caveat : we are incarnated!

So yes, on est fait pour agir, we’re made to “do”, though we can be tempted not to and stay in bed with our mind, thoughts and musics.

Thanks for reading!

The Think & The Do : Catch a Tip

This is a mayhemic article about a pattern I meet everyday these days.

(As you know, when you spot then notice a pattern, you see it everywhere, right?)

ONE

Bourdieu explains that there’s a problem with scholars studying the source of Manet‘s paintings scandals. These guys develop theories about the “will of Manet”, seen as a smart rebel.

Like in History, it’s easy to rebuild stray events and sew them into a “will” of destiny or whatever. Bourdieu says simply that Manet was just in the process of painting, that’s all. A haeccetian recall : he’s painting, thinking about a Japanese etching, he has an idea with color, or frame, he finds difficult to paint eyes, a gaze, and deals with the days (hungriness, sex, friends, insomnia, whatever, who knows).

The clear will to make a scandal doesn’t even exist. He just paints! Theoricians, 100 years after, explain crystal clear theories.

TWO

This could be one branch of the science of bullshittery.

Taleb tells stories of lecturers in huge hotels of New York powerpointing about the need to be ethical and fight poverty, who treat waiters harshly at lunch. The consequences of these meetings is mainly to blossom other meetings with powerpoints elsewhere in the world. Practice what you preach, buddy!

THREE

Big talkative personalities (like me, haha) love theories, maybe more than action, so what? I love to talk about movies and books and arts, I love analysis, I love structures. Plus I’m an INTFJ, plus I’m a Five (a watcher). I’m not action man. And sometimes I admire action men…

Grand diseux, petit faiseux, we say in Ch’ti, the north of France dialect : “Big teller, small maker”. Makes sense?

FOUR

If you Google “theory” and “action” on Google you’re parasitated by… Theories of Action, arghhhh.

I regret to not to be an anthropologist (sorry for my English), and I probably need help here. I’m pretty sure that many persons studied the dance between action and theory.

Creation is an act of resistance, says Deleuze.

A book of Agamben is called “The Fire and the Account”. He says that acting and thinking are interlinked :

We think when we can’t act anymore, we act when we can’t think anymore

Lacan says that what is important is that “makes something happen” – then you can catch a tip.

“Life to knowledge” !

Maybe the action is not that important, but the way one person witnesses it, talks about it, links it, shows a way to live or to spout…

OK, I know, it’s mess. I’ll dig into it. Who can help me?

Thanks for reading!

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Lie Lowing & Sliding out of assignations…

Ahhhh I like this Deleuzian pattern. Here it is :

ONE

I have a friend who is always very angry towards the world, how people act, how they entertain, against politics and laws and books. He has a big radar for bullshit.

Most of the time I agree! But I go back to this Tolstoyian question : “Que faire ?”. What do you do? What should you do?

The paths of actions here are numerous : rage, denunciation, analysis, destruction, symbolic acts, militancy or policital career. You go girl! Change the world!

TWO

Against bad management I hear friends who fight back with huge strength, lawyers and big energy. Their colleagues scream : “You make a rod for your own back!” (or else they crash down. Tears or depression. It is a way out!). They can… Pyrrhicly win!

THREE

The Type we watch here is the Offensive Resistance Fighter.

What counts for them? FACTS. Action.

FOUR

In war time, in front of the Nazis occupiers, these people wouldn’t have last an afternoon. The Big Rule for resistance is to lie low.

I love that in English “to lie” means “not tell the truth” but also “to recline”, to be on the ground, hiding, undiscovered. Se faire oublier, we way in French : To make yourself forgotten…

FIVE

Invent your (inner or not) clandestine world, dig burrows (with many entrances), shape your camouflages, fool the chieves and the idiots.

Sliding out of assignations, because you become a nomad, killing obedient roles and solid-frozen “identities” (labels). Leaking. Being between, and moving all the time. Find what you have to do, and do it. Including : loom strongly from nowhere and hit – or disorient. That’s funny!

Don’t expect to meet friends in this forest, Waldgänger. But you will, eventually.

 

Thanks for reading!

 

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“Haecceity” : it’s about Labels on your Forehead

14 Ways of Disappearing

Waldgänger uses the forest

What to Do With Stupid Orders

Organizing Withdrawal

Article dedicated to Pierre Ansay

 

“The beginning of all changes, the first step, consists in putting an end to a false activity” Zizek

The beginning of all changes, the first step, consists in putting an end to a false activity

S. Zizek

I like this quote (I did my best for the translation), because it shows what could be “another window”. Every book, every wise person, every self help quote will say : Do the first step, or don’t talk -> act, or dare, or move out of your comfort zone, etc… This one is like a… smart preamble.

Therefore it’s a little tool for us. Each time we know we have to move forward, maybe we have to think about it.

What is a false activity? Are we lured? Who judges that? How can I know? Instinct or Reason? How will we stop it? Is it the condition for a start? What if this activity was important?

Where to apply this tool? Job? Couple? Life? Hobby? Sports? Creativity?

How, then, will the “change” expected by Zizek unfold? Taking the place of the false activity? Growing from it? Seeing things which where hidden by its falsity?

What else?

Thanks for reading!

 

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“To take dust for gold” : Chronicle 21

If you obey all the rules you miss all the fun.
Katharine Hepburn

 

I talked ten minutes with an old man, an organ maker. I bombed the poor man with so many questions! One was : “As the organ’s sound is made with pipes, how do you standardize the sound?”. Well it was interesting. He was really happy to tell me these things, and admitted he was writing a book. “Organs & Frigates”. Boats?? He gave me some hints :

  1. In the 18th Century, the two more complex machines were organs and sailboats
  2. These needed complex building and craft
  3. Both use the wind to run on

mu9

Write a short story of a person, after a break up, who is angry to be stalked on the Internet – but he/she is not.
Similar pattern : a TV star is stuck in an elevator with another person… who never watches television and thus has NO CLUE the first one is a celebrity expecting to be recognized.

mu9

My father had a first aid certificate. He taught me that a wounded person absolutely needs a beautiful dressing, a clean and well done bandage. A real need.

mu9

“Words are nothing. Actions are everything. Don’t tell me. Show me.”

Ahhhh we like that, right? Dumbsimple and satisfying! I found another outrageous quote about that :“Don’t talk, just act. Don’t say, just show. Don’t promise, just prove”.

Blah blah blah. My sarcastic mind agrees, nods, and immediately jumps over the fence of fake simplicity to see what happens “really” in life. The facets of plain stupidity are innumerable… because :

Words are nothing? Ah lalaaaa… These motivational quotes are so moronic that I want to die. Or to hit the author on the head with a good hammer. BIM. Then I die, scouic.

Talk to your lover, silly. Don’t be that “He’s silent” type! Act when necessary. If your spouse is like “Don’t tell me show me”. Well : climb a ladder if you like…

mu9

If you hide a Family Secret, it will seep out messily and everywhere in your story…

mu9

She puts her hand on her heart, to show she is wounded
Montherlant

 

Bonne journée, messieurs dames !

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Le Semblant d’Acceptation – I say yes all the time & I have a mind of my own

ONE

When you interact with people, you have to deal with three levels :

  1. What you think
  2. What you say
  3. What you do

There’s a struggle, though, between your angelic wish & will to respect people, and the good old “reality principle” : you have to drive your own life, even if you’re surrounded by stupidity, unsteady manners and paradoxical injunctions.

A good example : Rules. Of course, you have to obey rules, including the law of your country. But what do you do with stupid rules, invented by a stupid manager in an office cut from reality, yesterday or a long time ago? Say yes and nod. Inner Facepalm. Then do your stuff.

 

It’s the same when someone lies to you :

  1. You know it.
  2. You speak “as if” you’re unaware of it.
  3. You do what you just need to do. Just say “yes”, before.

 

Of course, you can fight stupidity, OMG : I let you begin, OK? Please do it. Stop war, too, while you’re at it…

 

TWO

There are quotes (mostly about relationships, right?) about words and actions. For example :

“Words are nothing. Actions are everything. Don’t tell me. Show me.”

Ahhhh we like that, right?

Fine! Thustherefore :

  1. What I think I keep for myself
  2. What I say is what the other one wants to hear
  3. What I do is what I want to do

 

THREE

Hmmm I know, there are consequences : people will say you have a mind of your own. Maybe that you’re a two-faced hypocrite, a free electron, a specialist of AS (Acceptation Semblance). Well : so be it!

“Words are nothing. Actions are everything. Don’t tell me. Show me.”

Voilà!

 

 

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The French “Qu’est-ce que tu deviens ?” is our way to ask “What have you been up to?”…

When you meet a friend, you can say “What’s up?”.

It’s clear and simple for a French, with the fascination we have for English’s conciseness : what is “up”, after all? 🙂

I think there’s a slightly different color in “What’s up with you?”, saying “What have you been up to?”, which is “How have you been busy these days?”. I’m good?

Well, we say in this case “What’s new?” : Quoi de neuf ?

After a long-time no-see, we often say : “Qu’est-ce que tu deviens ?“, which means “Who do you become?”, or “What are you turning into?“.

Yessss you see me coming, there’s a cultural difference here showing on the surface :

USA asks “What have you been up to?”, France asks “What are you turning into?”. One friend is asking about your actions, the other one is asking about your inner transformation. Isn’t it revealing? I don’t know, it makes me think, in any case…

 

Thanks for reading!

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Working with what you have… today

When I was 25 I complained to a friend of mine who was 40, a painter. I was composing music slowly and in a bitter way because I was missing instruments, equipment, etc. I had a Macintosh, a mic, a synth, a reverb and a flute.

In art or life, sometimes we feel stuck, therefore we don’t do anything, because we “miss something”, we don’t have enough of this or that : we just wait, bored like a lonely koala in the taiga.

So we just “watch a goal”, a state or a line where, at last, we will be able to begin.

THEN we will have enough time, enough money, enough energy to do it!

I will… paint, compose, be happy, invent, write, blog, learn, the day I will have this or that, blah blah blah…

This is procrastination, laziness & threnody. Sometimes it’s useful to wait, though…

My friend told me I was silly, and, as a painter, that if she only had a pen and paper she would work. “Do something with your flute and your keyboard, instead of complaining, silly!”.

Okey. Watch around. Pick up a tool. Begin. To begin : begin, as they say. Now. That’s true!

…unless you don’t work for another reason, using this syndrome to do nothing. Rhoooo this is baaaad!

Bonne journée!

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What should I do? / What would you do in my place?

There are some moments in life where you really need to “stop and think”. Armies of difficulties or huge boredom, impossible choices or stupid auto-illusions : you need help, obviously!

You can ask your best friend or a specialist, your sister or anyone :

What should I do?

This is a good question, and you’ll probably listen carefully…

But there’s another way to ask, which is :

What would you do if you were in my place?

And this is a totally different question. You should, then, listen closer. Your partner will maybe ask… “Really?”. Then the answer won’t be the same…

You can ask the two questions in a row, asking for both.

Then you can follow, or not, but the second question requires your attention : your interlocutor will probably watch your next steps. It’s a question of trust, an intimate process.

Thanks for reading!

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Overthinking Ways

The memory is cursed with what hasn’t happened, says Marguerite Duras, and that’s a good example of overthinking. In fact, it’s the seed of a whole tree!

What are ways of overthinking? What are the subjects? The past (what it’s been, what it could have been). The future(s). About what you did or will do (or say). And I’ll stop it here : you perfectly know your ways of overthinking!

What are the ways OUT of this curse (which it is, right?). Most books show these paths :

  1. Mindfulness
  2. Dare and do something

Voilà! You just saved a bunch of money! Put these books back in the shelves!

1 Mindfulness is a way to focus on the now (let the past sleep/just enable the future) – well, you can try!

2 Acting-Doing has many good effects, from “keeping you busy” to “stop thinking a bit”, by way of “changing what I can”… instead of thinking about it.

Tool :

Of course you can use another path, which could be “smart overthinking”, taking a wheel (if you find it) to drive it somewhere else, to tame it, to use it, to link it with others – or with books (which is the same), to divide it up like a sheaf, to make it a dance, to fight it, to… What about you?

You go girl! Merci et bonne route! Thanks for reading.

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