Postmodern Short Stories in America?

Hmm Postmodern Short Stories in America? That’s a good title, right?

I always loved short stories of the USA, and in my life I read a lot of these – I remember Faulkner, Salinger, Carver, but also Fitzgerald, William Goyen, Flannery O’Connor, Edith Wharton. I bought and didn’t read K. A. Porter, and in English – which is difficult for me – W. Cather, or more Raymond Carver…

Finishing the David Lodge autobiography, I found these three names : Brautigan, Barthelme and Coover, as postmodernists. Puzzled, because I know Brautigan a bit, I googled and found this subject : Postmodern Short Stories in America.

So, I did a little search and found this (I bolded the bold) : “The history of the short story in mid-twentieth century America continues to be marked by a tension between the twin fictional poles of realism and romance, the story of accurate ‘reportage’ and the story of fantasy and imagination.”

Thus :

“The short story also encourages a reflexive self-consciousness about literary form, a propensity to build into the story a commentary on itself – and a mingling of genres and registers.”

THIS is interesting, right?

Because, what is “postmodernism”, after all, now we’re… after that?

Wikipedia is a messy mess, look what I’ve found :

Skepticism, irony, or rejection of the grand narratives and ideologies of modernism, self-referentiality, epistemological and moral relativism, pluralism, and irreverence.

Let’s dig :

  • John Barth is said parodic, “The process of making a novel is the content, more or less.”
  • Donald Barthelme, “…experimental, he avoids traditional plot structures, relying instead on a steady accumulation of seemingly unrelated detail. Subverting the reader’s expectations.”
  • Robert Coover, magic realism, self-referentiality.
  • William H. Gass, the stylist : “His prose has been described as flashy, difficult, edgy, masterful, inventive, and musical.”

 

See why I’m intrigued?

Do you know some of them?

 

Thanks for reading!

 

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Quarantine & Introverts

I don’t know if many of us will be quarantined, but I already think about it…

I read this morning, about China, that being locked in your apartment with your spouse will “maybe” provide a baby boom this next winter, but in the meanwhile gives two consequences :

  1. Infodemia (too much informations about epidemic dramas) and depression.
  2. Explosion of… divorces.

 

We don’t need a master in psychology to know that many couples go on just because they don’t have time to be with each other. Busy busy busy! That’s OK, we all do what we can, right?

Locked together, toxicity begins to dance around, boredom walks along walls like a tiger in a forgotten cage, back and forth…

I can’t imagine what happens to sports addicts, bikers and runners. They can do push-ups, but well, that’s not enough drug, I suppose.

But for introverts, it’s probably different. Being quarantined with shelves of books and Blu-rays (or with a computer and Internet, if you’re a dematerialized person) looks like holidays…

 

Bah, it’s just a feeling. Spring will come soon and will make all of us (including introverts and other cat persons) in a sudden urgent need of going outside to 1/ run with a dog or 2/ to lie down in the grass to smell the good quiet power of nature growing.

Let’s hope the heat wave will kill the viruses, all of them.

Thanks for reading!

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Organic Storytelling?

Interviews between two movie directors are the best. It gets higher and it’s more interesting and complex, of course : pros are talking.

There’s an interview of Jeff Nichols (Shelter, Mud) by Martin Scorsese (Taxi Driver, The Age of Innocence), where they explain that they are both criticized because their movies “lack of intrigue”. In a way, like in the movies of the 70s, a more mature era…

It’s true that most movies are strongly driven by a scenario. Everything is well explained and you feel you hand held by the makers, who WANT you to think this and that, adding music where you have to cry, etc…

Nichols and Scorsese both use the same language : the narrative energy must be there of course, but it’s obtained by asking questions and answering them along the scenes, by the editing, the light, events, and their order. The movie moves forward without constantly telling you IT-IS-A-STORY. Nope : there are characters, and events (like in real life, right?) and hidden structures – of course.

The audience doesn’t “feel the author”. Their intelligence is active, and it can blossom in many ways. It gives a rhythm, a more organic one, a more unique way of unfolding the movie.

 

In French, we call Organic Farming : “L’agriculture Bio” – from biological.

The word “Organic” is interesting. It means :

  1. Without chemical (for food)
  2. Living organisms
  3. Unified (an organic whole)
  4. Flowing, natural (an organic development)

 

 

Therefore it’s a structure I love. We could call “Organic Storytelling”, in a movie, in an article, a book, a novel, a way of making things grow and evolve without the chemical (but effective, too) processes of tricks and pushes and manipulation.

 

There’s a good example in sex and pleasure : every evolved adult knows that if you can bring and orgasm to your partner (man or woman) in many ways, you can separate these two paths :

  1. In the appropriate moment, stimulations and proper movements brings your lover a good orgasm. It’s as if you were pulling a bucket of pleasure with a string, from the top of the well…
  2. And there’s this other way, where you partner gets so aroused that he/she becomes a sphere of electricity : anything can bring her/him to explosion. It’s as if the bucket of pleasure were levitating up in the well, delicately guided by you and your string, from the top of the well…

What’s the best?

 

 

Intention of effect kills effect, says the wise man, and I agree with the wise man.

With this “organic building” structure, what would be photography, painting, poetry, blogging, teaching? Do your audience really need to know what you want them to feel? Is it a good question? Hmmm need a conversation, I know…

Vocabulary as seeds : what is control here? What are propositions?

 

Thanks for reading!

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The Insisting Many Angles Exploration Tool

Imagine you want to explore a part of history. The US Civil War, for instance.

First you have to find your “entry level”. Political? Military? Daily life in the country? Chronology? What happened before? Slavery?

Then what do you read? Documents from the era? Historians? Biographies? Novels happening at this time? Hmmm…

What is the size of your magnifier? Do you watch structures and big pictures, or do you focus on one day in the war?

 

I discovered that my best way to explore a field is to gather a few books and to focus on one little element.

It can be a sole day in the war, or one battle only, or one person of the time. But it can be one “element”, for example : railroads during the Civil War, or the way this war has been represented in movies along the century.

Then : insisting. Many angles. Many sources. Etc. And little by little you’ll find… a fabric, a texture, something…

Then you’ll know if you have to go on, and which way. Another “zoom” or a big synthesis, whatever.

Have fun. Thanks for reading!

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“Consider other doors, gallivanter!”

 

 

Books! Awards! Jump!

Goncourt, Renaudot, Fémina : it’s the literary prizes week in France. Books! Awards!

As soon as the names come up, herds of obedient consumers rush to buy the books – which are sold out, of course.

I wonder why. Do people want the book because they don’t know how to choose a story by themselves? Do they just pavlovically trigger-happy-obey to primary medias impulse? Is it something like mimetic desire (Google it, but it’s the way a kid want “this” red toy-car just because someone wants it)?

I don’t know, but I have a solution.

If you consider that getting awarded means it’s a good book, just move a little back, to last year, or ten years ago, whatever. What if the Pulitzer of 2014 STAYED good?

You’ll find plenty more good infos on the web about each book. You’ll find a pocket book version. You’ll find it cheaper on Craiglist, and you’ll disobey a little to cattle movements. Little pleasure.

Have a nice day with a book!

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“One or Six but not Two” (the buying bookseller dilemmas)

Booksellers or often books buyers. They are visited by editing companies sales representatives, who present them books they’ll sell a few months in advance.

For example, these weeks of September I order Christmas books…

This is something you can teach (there are a few “principles”), but mostly, you need a few years of experience to be a good buyer.

Flaws are obvious : you can order too many books, or too few. You can have a crush for a book which dismally fail, or you can hate a… future hit.

When you order books, you logically have to think about… where you’ll put the books when they are delivered later.

You order none if the book is impossible, or too complex for your customers, or… if you really disagree with the subject – which is rare, because most booksellers have this phrase in mind (often told as a Voltaire quote but it is not) :

I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it

  1. You order one if you need one on his shelf : you have to have it, but you don’t need to “show” it on a display (specialized books, unknown poets…) or you don’t have the room.
  2. You can show books on long lecturns (then you order 4 or 5 – one on the shelf (you HAVE TO), the others in sight), or on tables (then it’s a stack : 6 or 8), or on front displays for big authors or probable success books : 10, 20 or more.

 

Booksellers have private jokes. One is “You never order two!”. Why? Because it would be one on the shelf and an orphan volume you effing don’t know what to do with.

In fact, you sometimes do it (when you have to put it aside for you or a customer, when you’re pretty sure you’ll sell one quickly, etc)…

0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 10, 12, 15, 20, 25…

Never 7 or 11 or 13, or 17 books ordered. Why? Who knows?

I endeavor to once order 7 books during each appointment I have with a salesman. It’s a lucky charm, and it makes people smile. “Seven are you suuure?”. Yep!!

My instinct knows when to do it : in front of an improbable lovely book, the oblique one, the unexpected one. This job is very cool, you know?

One or Six, not Two, nor Seven. Could be a rhyme, right? In which other territories do we have “holes” like these. Numbers, but “you’re not supposed to use this one”. 13th stairs? What else?

Thanks for reading!

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(Picasso : Boy with a Pipe)

 

 

Picasso’s whirlwind

What is your exploration field, today? Japanese cinema, French classical music, British painters of 19th Century, US Civil War?

Picasso for me. There are constant exhibitions around the world, but there’s a big one in the Musée d’Orsay this fall in Paris. As a bookseller, I got the usual shower of new books. I opened one, and the summary stung me.

Mahler, Proust, Marx, I chose these three examples for this article : Jungle Syndrome. Something, in these, is “too much”. Too complex, too rich, too interesting, too big. You pick a leaf, then you have a tree, a forest, a universe. Gasp !

I also realized I had to find my own path : Feeling the air of Waterloo & other oblique explorations…

One explorer’s pleasure – when you want to explore a subject like this – is to gather weapons : documentaries, downloaded images or pdf, books. I ordered some, bought second handed others…

I’m reading the “first little guides”, one of Picasso’s wives biography, and many prefaces and introductions.

I ordered a huge biography, bought a second hand two volumes chronological illustrated book, found other things in my own shelves…

I already feel the fire, “this” fire you all know…

“Towering genius of the century”, “long and prolific career”, what I already know is this : nobody can explain or frame Picasso’s work. Every author talks about paradoxes or multifacets (like for every important artist or writer). Variety and never ending exploration, but with strong themes and structures under. Modern, but based on classics. Childish, but with strong work and maturity. Free, daring and casual, all driven by terrific invention. Revolutionary on many stairs.

So, yes, it’s whirlwindy, immense, impossible to cover. One of the good things is that Pablo Picasso talks and explains a lot about his work, about what he wants

This will be a lovely autumn, right?

Thanks for reading!

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“I’ll put this one on my SOB (Stack of Books)”

Librarians, booksellers, booklovers : we all know the SOB, the Stack of Books (to read).

In French we call it the PAL (la pile à lire).

You know this, right? You just bought a book, or you’re just being stung by a subject (thus you picked up some books in your shelves).

  • It can be a couple of books, but it can be two dozens, or a whole shelf, yeeeesh.
  • It can be a real stack, or a stack… in your mind.
  • You can read them in order, or begin all of them all – so there!
  • While you attack your stack, you’ll probably add more books on it.

Yes, it’s sisyphian.

It leads me to this (if it’s a pattern) : Don’t we all have other “stacks”? Things to do? Things to think about (when I have a little time alone)? Things to talk about when I’m with this person? Clothes (to iron, obviously)? Methods? Recipes? How do we choose into a stack ?

Isn’t a stack a list made real?…

Here’s my current one. I invite you to post yours in the comments 🙂

Have a nice day!

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The reader who doesn’t read

I know plenty of book lovers, but this Type is rare…

The reader who doesn’t read.

There’s this man I see in the bookstore twice a week or more. He subscribed to many weekly magazines and wants to buy every book with good reviews. Let’s say : between 5 and 10 books a week.

Little by little, by what he was saying, I figured it out : this guy hasn’t got the time, didn’t take the time to read any of them. None. It is like a compulsive need to get everything’s “good” for critics.

I have a friend who lived for a few years with a man who was the same : he kept buying books and CDs, but she told me he doesn’t love to read, he never reads, he just pile dozens and dozens of them.

So one could wonder. Let’s try :

  1. Compulsive buying disorder.
  2. A fear to miss something.
  3. A way to say “I’ll read these later, when I’m retired”.
  4. Imposture (“I want to look like an intellectual”).
  5. A vicarious will to look like someone he knows.
  6. A way to hide a big “something is missing in my life”.

 

In a way, in each case, I find so much sadness. Like a big rush, a big energy to do something, but unable to really plug it to reality, to brain. Big appetite, but no acumen…

This Type uses a pattern. What would be this pattern in other areas? Fakery, impostureness? What shades do we find, between doing this just on surface, like a cheater, a fake, or doing it with a good will, deeper, a bit like “being lost, in fact, in the emptiness”. Compulsive liars, wrong artistic projects…

A reader who never reads, awwwee poor man!

 

Thanks for… reading!

 

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P. Chamoiseau Quote : “For whom has no questions…

For whom has no questions, books remains sleeping treasures. The breadth of the question one asks to oneself, one applies to the world, nourishes the amplitude of response. If the question exists, everything begins to answer.

“Pour celui qui n’a pas de questions, les livres demeurent des trésors endormis. L’ampleur de la question que l’on se pose à soi, que l’on applique au monde, nourrit les amplitudes de la réponse. Si la question existe, tout se met à répondre”.

Patrick Chamoiseau

 

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Photo : Mona Kuhn

Tropes & Clichés and other blocks of storytelling

I write this because I believe that English uses the word “trope” in a different way than in French. It’s a rare word here, and I had to check in dictionaries to understand it.

I hear that in the world of telling stories, a trope is like a “little structure”, linked to other words : conventions, stereotypes, clichés, but also “twists and turns”.

  1. Big tropes, archetypes with capitals like : The Chosen One. The Artifact of Power. The Damsel in Distress. The Knight in Shining Armor.
  2. Typical narrative structures like : enemies to lovers, tough guy secretly sensitive, forbidden love,
  3. Situations or plot elements : “there’s only one bed”

 

It leads to many questions & paths :

  • Tropes by categories (ex : Fantasy Tropes : quest, dark lord, hero, good vs evil, blah blah)
  • Clichés are boring, aren’t tropes boring?
  • New tropes?
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clich%C3%A9 Clichés are irritating, right?
  • Platitudes. Stereotypes.
  • Tropes are good because familiarity.
  • When tropes are predictable to the point of boredom.
  • Are predictable tropes clichés?
  • Tropes as metaphors.

 

Well, it’s too big. Creativity and storytelling, finding the frontier between good tropes and boring ones, etc. I need a book. You have an idea?

Thanks for reading!

 

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Instagram : _bodylanguage_

 

 

“I can’t be touched in my sleep” & Structural Surprises : Chronicle 47

“Then he struck a match to light his cigarette, but the wind blew it out”

______

I have a map of the USA on my bathroom wall. I like to wander over around when I brush my teeth. I keep being amazed by the size of the country – I discover names of roads, parks, cities. Joplin, Tulsa, Holton, Salina, Wichita, Overland Park, Oldredge! I dream to be on Road 35 with a car, a camera and 2 months free.

Also, I notice these strange grey fields : the indian reservations. When you live in Europa, it’s a bit mysterious! We only have a few images of Indians in head, mostly from movies.

So I found “Potawatomi“, thus I googled.

“Upper Mississipi River”

I really should try to know more. Maybe find a documentary, a book? I googled it. I should Instagram, maybe. Try to find a penpal…

______

This morning I remembered that my country was called “La Gaule” before the Romans invaded all of it 2000 years ago. They occupied it for 500 years until defeated by the Francs. We became La France, but in the process we lost our tongue, our language, le gaulois has been replaced by le français. French language is very similar to Italian, because we made it from Latin from Roman Empire.

If Romans would not have been defeated, we would be maybe now like US’s Indian Tribes : in reservations, grey squares on a few % of the map France, talking Gaulois and organizing Casinos and other trails.

Dang, we lost our language, though. Don’t be surprised if French is a mess to learn now!

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Heeyyy maybe a tribe will attack America after 500 years of occupation, like here, and the USAns will go back to the old continent, the Indian natives will get back their country, but they will keep English to talk (with Mexicans). OK, that’s a strange mess, and a good novel to write. Please serve yourself 🙂

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______

“…to have had a mature man to break it down”

______

I have a theory that if you live a long time under pressure (with religious or big-political parents for example), you accumulate a huge amount of… something. A steam that will eventually explode one day into bursts of nonsense and madness.

Tamed for some time by iron reason and logic, one’s brain looks like a white hot furnace/cooker, up in an ivory tower. Then beware…

  • Violence.
  • Inappropriate acts.
  • Madness.
  • Loss of common sense.

The young years, clamped in a vise, created monsters. A poopy bustling…

Ain’t it splendid that in UK, vice means two things? A clamp tool and a wrong mind.

______

Picture this : puffing and crimson nurses running after a fool…

_____

Bernstein‘s book : “Findings”.

Preface : talking about words and music, “I find the same joys of ambiguity, structural surprises, anagrammatic play and grace of phrasing in both”.

Well, I smiled. This could be a program for my blog! Ambiguity in three other books I just bought : Sud (photos, but no legends : you don’t know where it’s taken). In Tissot (classical painting, but the rich ladies are lost and bored). In Jones (who was a man, and a woman).

Structural surprises? Strange quotes coming from nowhere? Nonsensical titles? Yes I play. It’s funny.

I probably wish my Chronicles to be heard… as if you were listening to a fool, haunted by something, having a conversation with himself about seeds & ideas…

______

Time’s winged chariot…

Thanks for reading!

What I read

Didi-Huberman is a great thinker for images. Aperçues is a great short texts books. Full of ideas and subtleties.

A fabulous, clever book about Miles Davis. Puts me in fields I don’t know well (Jazz). Plenty of great patterns about management, intentions, creativity…

One of the many books written by C. Juliet. Diaries : introvert curious intelligent writer.

Hustvedt has a storytelling talent. Novel writer, she talks about science and psychology, about thinking living watching, mixing her life with science nuggets.

Kundera because you have to go back to him from time to time. Irony. Hair splitting cleverness.

Koolhas because architects have a great way to think about invention and civilization.

A Taschen about impressionism. Cheap and gorgeous.

Contre Culture : a dictionary of exploring ideas in culture : music arts photos…

Julie Manet wrote her diary : a teen within poets ans painters in the 19th. Just adorable.

An old French intellectual wrote a little book about how all is a failure. Obviously I had to read it.

A little book about Kupka a forgotten painter.

A ferocious mess about how the world is crazy.

A “made in Belgium” book make by a great spirit I met. Could be translated like “Fuck it I dare!”. Self help… the French way.

Finishing Manet‘s biography. The first modern painter. An infinity of great ideas and patterns.

A hungry French clever book about everything.

A great (Belgian) portal about the greatest French philosopher of the century.

Thanks for reading!

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Books on a Bench : #serveyourself #📚

We have more and more “Boîtes à dons” (donations boxes) and other Books-Boxes in the city, but I prefer give mine on bus benches, or in parks. I let a note : “Free, serve yourself”.
Usually if I have to come back there (after errands for example) I see people exploring the pile or I see… nothing.
Have a good day!
JP

from Instagram: https://ift.tt/2JU6WKu

“This Author? I have everything…”

A style, a mood, a spirit, ideas : some authors are a shock. Keenness. Grasp. You’re hungry!

There are many ways and paths here.

  1. You can buy everything you find then swim into your new pool for months.
  2. You can like it so much than you keep some unreadings to keep new things for your whole life (I do this with Faulkner).
  3. You can explore it like malaria attacks, then let go (because it’s a too big continent).

William Faulkner. The Sound and the Fury has been the biggest book shock in my life. Haunting style. Liquor. Splendid.

Thomas Bernhard. Controlled methodical rage. Awesome. Unforgettable.

Anton Chekov. A doctor. The sweetest guy ever. Hilarious letters. Marvellous knowledge or human soul. Breaks your heart all the time.

Nietzsche. Toxic genius. Ideas at all stairs. Exhausting. Dense.

Paul Valéry. French genius of the highest range. The virgoest Virgo of spirits.

Ernst Jünger. The Goethe of the XXth Century. Generous, paradox between German spirit and big rushes of humanity. Warrior too.

Proust (rivers of words and intelligence), Kundera (smart and cruel), Yourcenar (cold adorable genius of Belgium), Giono (superb style), Bouvier (one of the best writer/traveler).

What do they have in common too? I want to have a conversation with them…

Have a nice day!

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“And I lost my marbles” & Wonderments & Apexes : Chronicle 40

I have too many books. From time to time I choose a few ones from my shelves and I pile them on the floor next to the door. When it’s sunny and I have to go out for errands or commuting, I pick up a dozen and I let them on a bench (in a park, for buses) with a note : “Free, serve yourself”.

9hz

There’s a pattern in Anthropology. When they’re young, these students often go study a tribe in a South America forest or some Inuits village near the North Pole. And many things happen, all in this mode : “Things are not what you think they are, buddy”.

  • The people you study are studying you.
  • They use you, eventually.
  • You take notes, but you don’t understand anything.
  • You invent “intentions” where there are not.

9hz

When you like poetry you have many sources of pleasure. One is the “sudden arising of a sensation”. Poets do that. They trigger moods.

9hz

I know that this blog is about seeds and tools, OK. But the real thing is to tell that being curious is a real source of Joy. “Faire renaître l’émerveillement” :

“Make the wonderment come alive again”.

9hz

Triangle is interesting. An apex has two friends.

9hz

Okay, so you’ve got a car
That don’t impress me much

9hz

In French, to say confused or disoriented, we say “Déboussolé”, which I could translate like : UNCOMPASSED. Makes sense?

9hz

My good friend Lucile wrote one day :

“Le lien, le désir, l’amour, ne sont jamais comme dans les livres – ni conformes à ce qu’on nous en dit. ET ALORS ?”

“Link, desire, and love : they are nver like in the books – neither true to what we are told. SO WHAT?”

Have a nice day!

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Bidou in the past in Eliette’s room

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“What’s bitten him?”

ONE

If you like to explore knowledge and history of men, you probably, like me, from time to time choose a field and dig it completely with excitement – you draw maps, you read, you try to find your own gold nuggets.

What’s bitten him?

John Ford’s cinema, or Kurozawa, or Brian de Palma. Or a painter : Hopper or Da Vinci, or Monet. Music ? Ravel or Shostakovich? Churchill, Lincoln, a French king? An architect, a poet? Faulkner?

Exploring is a joy. Books, conversations, documentaries, Internet. It’s like a map or a puzzle you complete little by little.

At one moment, “vous avez fait le tour”, as we say in French, you finished to turn around it : all angles. You have your little trunk, full of treasures. From time to time you like to complete it, to add a book…

TWO

But some fields, some characters are continents, it’s too much, too complex to examine all angles… Why?

  • Because the subject is too big. Choose Puccini or Orson Welles, you’ll be OK. But study the US Revolution, Napoléon, or the Italian Renaissance, and you’re dead.
  • ..
  • Because the subject has too many links. It happened to me with the US Civil War. I read about Lincoln, slavery, battles, Indian natives, daily life at this time, consequences in Europa, “just after the war”, black problems in the XXth century…
  • ..
  • Because a personality or his art is too complex to understand completely. Manet in painting (a constant flow of paradoxes and possibilities), Mahler in classical music (not that “hard” to listen, but with so many facets and complexities), probably Proust in literature…
  • ..

THREE

All this is a bit fractal, too : you can pick up a very tiny subject and explore it very well and so precisely that it becomes… infinite.

  • A tiny subject can be an “dot”. One movie director from Norway. The diary of your grandmother. An unknown painter from Provence.
  • It also could be a slight slice of a big event. One day in Germany during the WWII. A single battle of the Revolutionary War.
  • Something besides. You like Stravinsky? Then you could study his influence.
  • A much less known artist, or political man, or geographic place. Try Koechlin in French music. Or the guy who helped Lincoln with trains during the war. Study the city of Baku, in Azerbaijan.
  • Choose another angle. Instead of exploring Tolstoï, read about his wife. Don’t study Communism, but the Mccarthysm againts movie makers, the life of John Reed, or daily life in USSR’s during collectivization.
  • Move a cursor : don’t read about the Russian Revolution but how was the daily life there twenty years before.

There’s a danger of being stuck for your whole life : the subject your chose is so enthralling that you’ll never quit it.

FOUR

What subject(s) did you choose? Why? Did it end quickly or did you stay for years? Do you wait to have more time to attack a big one?

Thanks for reading!

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Two Biographies : #Manet

What’s better than a good dive into knowledge, into the life of an important artist, or character? I did it with Brahms, with Faulkner, with Chekhov, with Lincoln, Churchill…

It’s like a travel, an inner one, into history, into a life.

And of course, your choice reveals something about yourself. Why this person?

This winter, I travel with Edouard Manet, a French painter.

I use a few tricks I know.

First : two biographies.

Eric Darragon is a French Art Historian, and James Henry Rubin an American Art Teacher in the State University of New York. I am currently reading these two books at the same time…

Manet “by Zola” is a text from a writer who knew him, and L’Œuvre a novel about this period and this area (artists in Paris in XIXth Century).

I should add the souvenirs of Antonin Proust, Manet’s best friend, and probably the Manet lectures of Bourdieu, a sociologist, in the Collège de France.

I won’t and I can’t tell you why Manet. I’ll only say one aspect : he is on the fence. He’s the first modern. He’s an impressionist, but he’s not. A rebel, but not at all. And so on. It’s so amazing that I explore it very slowly.

Two good biographies is a good knack. You can do it with a battle (the D-Day?), with an event (a revolution?), with a a theme.

Choose one specialist. Then another one from the other side. Then a book from inside.

 

Thanks for reading!

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…and the “horror short stories” lost writer.

Yesterday in the bookstore I met an author, an unknown man who wrote and self-published a little book of “horror short stories”.

He asked for a book signing day.

I answered that we only do that, since a few years, for really published bigger authors, and also that he shouldn’t regret it : nobody probably would have come for him to our big store to have their book signed…

I know : not cool.

As he was talkative I suggested he asked to do this in smaller human-size bookstores, but also said that he’d probably see no line in front of the table.

We then talked about the writer’s disillusion of Level 2. The first is when he desperately want to be published. The other one is when he IS published, but nobody cares about his book.

We talked : sending his book to influencers & editors, about blogging, writing fan-fictions to get a name. We also talked about losing time – as he was – trying being a press secretary, an attaché.

I have no advice to tell to writers, but this man was a bit lost, obviously. Thus I asked him :

– What do you like?
– Writing.
– What don’t you write, then?

 

Is it the good path to get published with no audience, when you write horror short stories? What for? Hoping for money? Really?

Isn’t self editing a no-man’s land between putting the text online and having your book on tables in every store?

(Well, there’s this little pride when your brother-in-law buys you one to please you…)

Or is it better to just write, develop a talent and possibilities, find your music and determine something important : are you good, or not? Do you want to sell, or do you want to be read?

What happens when you work out of your skills, just besides, where you feel lost, untalented, and bored? Do you have to recenter, or do you learn things while you do it – thinking about the time you’ll be back to what you love and where you’re good?

 

Have a nice day!

 

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Thinker’s Diary : Words Snack

What’s near your bed?

  • A good novel you’re keenly reading every evening
  • A pile of cuddly comforting comics (Peanuts or Calvin & Hobbes)
  • A magazine in your comfort zone (movies, classical music, food, (or knives and fast cars?))

 

The “Print Disease” is when you HAVE to read what’s around

If like me you have this illness (printed words feed you), you need to have fast light things near your pillow. Like a snack of words, right? Just in case of insomnia, for example…

There are many ways to have “short things”. Very easy novels. Old comics. Archipelago philosophy. Quotes collection. Poetry. Correspondence books…

I have all these, and diaries.

Thinkers, writers, photographers, directors, politics? Many personalities wrote their diary. Sometimes it’s published, even after author’s death.

As a book unearther, I have the tendency to pick up everything diary-ish. It’s a superpower, in a way : you just open the author’s mind and see him/her think.

 

Yesterday I was with Gide (1869-1951), reading some diary pages of 1941. I found this (my translation) :

 

An opinion begins to bother me as soon as I can take advantage of it.

 

I had to stop reading, opened mouth.

“What?!”

That was obvious to me – so why being bothered by? What if he was right, and where, and how, and why? Here you go : you have two hours.

 

The danger of having words snacks near your bed (even Peanuts : Charlie Brown is a pretty good philosopher) is to find interesting things in the middle of the night. Therefore “Hello insomnia I embrace you” : you’ll never go back to sleep. So there!

 

Have a nice week-end!

Jean-Pascal

 

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