Levi-Strauss & Derrida… for bloggers?

Here’s a little tale for your week-end…

Levi-Strauss, anthropologist, in The Savage Mind, talks about two ways, two “Types”.

  1. The Bricoleur, the DYIer who uses whatever he has in hand and imaginatively recombines them to create something new.
  2. The Engineer is more scientific, he has a project from A to Z, he uses rules and knowledge. He builds and he’s serious.

 

The Bricoleur is a savage mind, he steals, gleans, finds “things” and plays combinations games, tries, have fun. He’s casual, right? The Engineer is serious and follows something.

 

Derrida, philosopher, studied all this and wrote later that the “Engineer” is an ideal who doesn’t really exist. He can not be the master of all, he can not be at the origin of all his projects.

  • In a way, every Engineer is a Bricoleur, right?
  • Is the Engineer is a myth invented by Bricoleurs?
  • Are all Engineers Bricoleurs?

 

– Oh, well… I think I just bricoled this one… So sorry.
– No you’re not.
– …

 

 

Thanks for reading!

Bonne lecture et bonne journée !

 

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Instagram : penguinthemagpie

 

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

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Structure,_Sign,_and_Play_in_the_Discourse_of_the_Human_Sciences#Bricolage

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

Bricolage is a French loanword that means the process of improvisation in a human endeavor. The word is derived from the French verb bricoler (“to tinker”), with the English term DIY (“Do-it-yourself”) being the closest equivalent of the contemporary French usage. In both languages, bricolage also denotes any works or products of DIY endeavors

 

Levi-Strauss : 

[He or she] is adept at performing a large number of diverse tasks; but, unlike the engineer, he [or she] does not subordinate each of them to the availability of raw materials and tools conceived and procured for the purpose of the project. His [or her] universe of instruments is closed and the rules of his [or her] game are always to make do with “whatever is at hand,” that is to say with a set of tools and materials which is always finite and is also heterogeneous because what it contains bears no relationto the current project, or indeed to any particular project, but is the contingent result of all the occasions there have been to renew or enrich the stock or to maintain it with the remains of previous constructions or destructions.

 

the engineer is always trying to make his way out of and go beyond the constraints imposed by a particular state of civilization while the “bricoleur” by inclination or necessity always remains within them.

 

  • the “savage” is a bricoleur, assembling patchwork objects by adapting “the means at hand” (by adding, deleting, substituting and transforming them);
  • the “scientist” is an engineer, creating objects “out of nothing,” “out of whole cloth.”

 

Derrida : 

the odds are that the engineer is a myth produced by the bricoleur

 

 

 

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Surprising Reversibilities

– I owe you so much!
– No no no, it’s I who owe you…

 

  1. A therapist takes care of his patient.
  2. Stravinsky or Hindemith were influenced by Bach.
  3. Someone is watching and analyzing a painting.

All these three examples are simple and clear. You can draw the arrow, right?

We thinkers like to go deeper, though. To find nuances, subtleties :

  1. There are many ways of listening, of helping someone…
  2. What are the elements which makes us notice the influence?
  3. What do we seek – and find in Arts? An emotion? Links?

You can spend months on each, reading books. Refining concepts is a bliss, right? Good!

 

Today I study one thing : reversibility. It’s meeting a surprise “the other way around”, and it’s charged with intensity :

  1. A therapist suddenly talks about himself. Instead of listening, he tells his own story. The patient is suddenly captivated. This is a well known trick in this field! Psychotherapists say it gives a stronger link (therefore a power) on a patient. Adding humanity in the bond is a strange and powerful idea…
  2. Many specialists come to a point where they see where is Bach in Hindemith, but also that there is some Hindemith (1895-1963) in Bach (1665-1750). Two centuries before, OK, but you can study this the other way around – even if you think it’s “not OK”. It’s a game for spirits, to study how the now can be seen as an influence for the past.
  3. An Art lover studies a painting, a music, and he realizes it works in the other way : the piece of work moves him, changes him, teaches him, overwhelms him. You explore yourself through another person’s work. You are amazed by unconscious and historical forces at stake. Your skin (or your guts) are activated. Astonishment is a trigger for your brain. Then, maybe, you’re… slaked (and this can be in MANY ways), right?

 

A child comes from a mother, a father. But parents are also transformed by the coming. In the end, the person who is a child gives parents… motherhood and fatherhood.

Mhhh I like that. You feel that I touch something here, oui? Where, in what other examples can you imagine this reversibility process? Business? Couple? Creativity? Ads? Poetry? Where, when it’s obvious “things are going this way”, could you reverse something? Therefore what?

Thanks for reading!

 

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Babette’s Feast, a Frenchization

In a remote 19th-century Danish village, two sisters lead a rigid life centered around their father, the local minister, and their church. They take in French refugee, Babette Hersant, who agrees to work as their servant. After winning the lottery, Babette wants to repay the sisters for their kindness and offers to cook a French meal for them and their friends on the 100th anniversary of their father’s birth. It proves to be an eye-opening experience for everyone.

As they say, Babette’s Feast is “still the gold standard of food movies”. I use it here because I find it’s a good example of… well… the reasons why people love the French – when they do 🙂

Babette is the perfect example of the Intruder/Revealer type. She disturbs a system, here a rigid grey life, with her “way of being”, which is here the love of food, et la gourmandise.

Nothing is the same after her…

Gourmandise is the French word for “love of good food”. I think you don’t have this word in English, which is maybe cultural (Mayflower spirit?). It’s like a positive, smiling way to talk about… greed. Yum!

On this pattern, there’s another movie, with Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp : Chocolat.

I agree : this spirit can be a bit disturbing for obedient Anglo-Saxons. Each time I’ve been in France with an American friend, this person was like amazed (in many ways : surprised, annoyed, afraid) about our freedom, our “not following the rules that much” ways, our casualness, our inefficiency too – and the food. The food, always, and again.

Here (like in other countries like Italy), c’est un Art de vivre, an Art of living. And we fight for that! Many of our cheeses are and will stay forbidden in America : not “safe” enough, not enough disinfected, sanitized…

Here I pity the French who live in America : they’re all missing… the cheese! And also, I will now search for “cultural differences movies”, where Anglo-Saxon’s culture irrigate our exhausting Frenchiness.

 

Tool : what from other country’s culture thing do you need in your job, in your life? What if you ask a Japanese expert about your company? What for? Where are the axis of progress?

Have a nice day!

OK, here’s a little Camembert to say goodbye.

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Words and Concepts are Liars

“Through words and concepts we are still con­tinually misled into imagining things as being simpler than they are, sep­arate from one another, indivisible, each existing in and for itself”.

Nietzsche, Human All Too Human

This is huge. I think every thinker is aware of this problem. Words and concepts put us in cages, we “think” they explain or describe reality, but they are NOT. Words simplify things, it’s very convenient, to analyze, to draw maps for the mind. But they are not enough.

Poets and photographs know this very well. They work BETWEEN the words, in subtleties and complexity.

It’s ALWAYS more complex than we think.

It why I wrote so many times about labels. If you discover your son is autistic or gifted, you immediately put him in a “box with a label“, and it’s a forever thing!

But there are millions of shades, and each of them… are moving, changing, evolving.

So we often think we know, but we don’t. We don’t know anybody, for example. We’re all islands, we’re complex, we have many faces, and we change along the days.

You can say : “He’s sad”, but you’ll never know how it moves, and how much sad he is, and if it is colored with sarcasm, suicide ideas, or hidden hope. You don’t know if he is aware of all that. You have to talk for a long time with him, to know.

Words are dangerous because they make you more stupid. We have to use them, because it’s the way we communicate, but we constantly need to remember their weakness.

Have a nice day!

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A to B : Frontiers & Movements

Call it “cheap structuralism”, because it is what it is. Or topography.

Here I choose to casually watch two territories, A and B.

It can be two apartments, two countries, but also two states (healthy/sick, or single/in couple), two styles, two blogs, anything by two.

Then you can begin to play :

  • If there’s a A and a B there’s a frontier. What is it made of?
  • Is it a line, like between two countries? Is it a wall? Symbolic?
  • A place (called C) which is a “space between”?
  • Do you have to study or focus on C?
  • Is there a door or many doors? Who opens, closes?
  • A bridge? Who build it?
  • Are A and B bonded? By what?
  • A and B can be different things (a house/outside) or the same nature (two people?)
  • When you have A and now also B, you own both. Kill the frontier, or keep both distinct territories inside you, like two facets? Like the two Germanies?
  • A becomes B is a mutation. Then where’s the border?
  • Rubicon process : once you crossed the border, A doesn’t “exist” for you anymore. Burnt bridge!

The tool is funny to use : determine if your problem can be structured as A and B (Do I have to live in the same place as my lover? Should I merge my two blogs? What is convalescence?).

Thanks for reading!

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