Feeling the air of Waterloo & other oblique explorations…

Hey, explorer…

Choose a knowledge-field you don’t know at all, and begin to dig to find your gold. This is what you like to do, right?

Japanese cinema, French classical music, British painters of 19th Century, US Civil War – what else?

Voilà : you have your unknown territory ready. Your hungriness will do the rest. Yum!

You need help, right? A compass, a guide, a book, a web site, friends, a lecture… It’s easy to find some. Find a map. Draw your map.

What we often do is to see what’s essential. Kurosawa and Ozu for Japanese cinema. Ravel and Debussy for French musicians, etc. You read the most important books, and that’s OK. An afternoon on the web will help to find the list…

Here I propose some more oblique ways to do that.

  • Find documents against. People who dislike, or say the contrary of what it’s commonly said. I once read about the French Revolution : next to the great books I piled on my table, I put a book written by a Royalist, an historian whose motto was “Revolution : a wrong mess!”. He was a good writer, though, and I learned a lot from him – though it’s pretty rare to find this “music” in our times.
  • Explore little branches of the tree. After decades of exploration, I knew the great composers and their important works : Brahms, Bartok, Prokofiev and more. Then I spent years to explore the same field, but under the stars : Roussel, Martinu, Walton and Sibelius. And thanks to the previous “normal” exploration, I had so much pleasure!
  • Find other ways to explore :
  • Instead of reading history books about an era, try to read books written by witnesses. Instead of trying to find the big picture, choose one person, a detail. One painter’s life. Instead of reading, go to lectures, watch them on YouTube. Find the minor things, what’s considered failures, and study hows and whys…

  • Explore what’s difficult : Mahler instead of Beethoven. Avant-garde photography.
  • Explore what’s hard because documents are rare, or the field very small.
  • Explore what you think you dislike : Consider other doors. Baroque music. Swedish movies. History of Prussia. Try to see if you find surprise-gold.
  • Go on site. This is totally different. Feeling the air of Waterloo. Find Vermeer’s city. Watch the sky…
  • In between two fields. Instead of studying Portugal or the new America, study the boats, the travels, the movements, agreements, trades. Learn what happened between two territories : producers and movie makers, Napoleo and United Kingdom…

 

What territory will you find? Butterflies? African masks? Dante? Religions in India? Story of the city of Philadelphia? Bridges of Budapest?

Do you have other ideas to find doors, bridges, territories and maps?

Then, what vein of gold will you find? What doors, what ways? Will you wake up in the morning with this delicious urge : dig more, know more, learn more?

Thanks for reading!

 

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Instagram : genevievealicegarner

 

 

 

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Every bookstore is the result of its clientele

One day I saw an interview of a celeb journalist and TV show presenter, a person I like very much, directing good shows and a pretty good interviewer herself. She was asked why TV was so full of trash. I saw her face changing, she was really upset, then answered something very surprising : TV broadcasts were so bad because “It’s what the audience wants!”.

She continued on this mode, telling something like “If people were watching operas, literature documentaries and great movie classics, all trash TV would broadcast in front of nobody, then would disappear for ever, then we would have great TV everywhere!”.

Her anger was noticeable, and that’s why I remembered it clearly. When smart people complain, you listen. Then, you wonder, right?

Because of course this all seems to be too good to be true, and it’s easy to counterattack. People watch trash TV because it’s prepared and broadcasted to them, etc.

 

So, there’s a balance here to find. After counterattack I have to admit that we all have a responsibility here, nonetheless. It’s like when I hear someone complaining about dense traffic… from a car. I have to answer to this person that he is a brick of it.

In some countries, if you are stuck into a traffic jam, you get a ticket! Which, in a way, is fair : you’re a part of it, it’s your fault!

OK, there’s a balance to find…

 

I work in a bookstore, and I’m confronted with this “structure”. The axiom could be :

“Every bookstore is the result of its clientele”.

You can be appalled, but it’s true. For a part, at least.

Yeah, there are other dials to watch. You need to have serious booksellers on board. And you often have to sell tons of “best sellers” on end displays… to be able to present entire tables of great books (your choice) in the store. Etc.

In a serious bookstore, all kind of books are bought then presented on tables and shelves. Employees, then, watch (weekly) closely the sales, then books are reordered. Never sold volumes (for months) are a bit dirty or torn, and therefore sent back to editors, and this is it : little by little, the customers, by the way they act and buy, model and form the store.

You just need a year or so to adjust, understand and change your store to adapt to your clientele. If you have an architecture school a street away, your architecture department will grow, you’ll have rare books, theory books and even anthropology books for the thinkers around. A visitor will pass and will be in a awe : “Oh wow, what a great architecture choice you have!”. Yessss it’s thanks to the bookstore employee, but mainly because he found the clientele, too. It’s a dance, a tango.

There’s a balance to find.

There’s a split of responsibilities in front of trash TV, in traffic jams, in poor supplied bookstores. Suppliers, of course, but audience too.

Do you meet this structure too, in your job, in your life? Don’t hesitate to comment, here.

 

We have an old idiom in France, about couples : “L’homme propose, la femme dispose”. It’s something like “the man proposes doings, the woman makes the choice” – I’m sorry for the translation, it’s almost impossible to do it, but you got me, right? Tango.

 

Thanks for reading!

(Really sorry for my English today. Have a nice day!)

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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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La Pléiade are great French books

The “Bibliothèque de la Pléiade” is a French series of books published by Gallimard. As says Wikipedia, the “entry into the Pléiade” is considered a major sign of recognition for an author in France (it’s pretty rare to reach this when you’re alive), though most of the catalog (more than 800 titles) is made of classics, from Jane Austen to William Faulkner, Joyce, Goethe, Kundera or Tanizaki.

La Pléiade offers high quality appearance : leather bound, gold lettering, and a small format which makes them look like small bibles. “The use of bible paper allows the books to contain a high number of pages; it is common for a Pléiade book to contain at least 1500”. I think you have a similar collection in the USA, called Library of America…

Many people collect these books, which, most of the times, are never opened. Each one costs around $70 : they stay on the shelves, sometimes behind a display case…

You can see them like precious untouched books to show you’re wealthy, or you can also choose to consider they are solid pocket practical books. I bought some on eBay for $9.99 : months of bliss! They are a bit torn, but who cares : they are compact, they smell good, they are generous, each book stays open when you let it go of, etc.

I took a few pictures. On the last one you see my pretty cool Ernst Jünger box, a diary written in France during WWII…

Have a nice day!

 

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Intimacy as “reading a book together” : Chronicle 10

Today I learned an english word : “Suitor“. In French we say “Un prétendant”… isn’t it a bit strange?

Immediately I wondered : is it always masculine? What would be a “female suitor”? A suitress? Nahhh…

Big Love (capitals, please) and Passion, we need to cross this in life, right? But when you become an adult you’re more interested by spending quality time together. You are quieter, you share, you think about this thing which is called : INTIMACY.

Tonight I thought about this, thanks to a New York Times article, a letter from a couple : the husband was explaining that his wife was ill and tired, just out of hospital, so he began to read books to her.

THAT is intimacy, that is love, the love I love.

Maybe I’m too French romantic, but watching an Art Book with the woman I love has been a totally tender and satisfying experience. Weirdly, I would remember these moments more than sex.

You don’t need 142 suitors. Just look for a man who is able to have a ten hours conversation with you (seems like ten minutes, right?). Just look for a girl who will REALLY be interested in watching some Art book you have on your shelves, asking, talking, smiling, turning the pages, initiating conversations, etc, etc, etc.

You know that kind of intimacy, right?

Thanks for reading!

 

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Pictures : Poumeyrol

Crime Novels are boring, Mr Whodidit, so what?

Crime Novels are boring, because there’s a murder or many murders (boring), a policeman or an investigator (boring), and at the end, we’re told who did it (boring).

There’s a trick I wrote about : read the end. Now you know Mr Whodidit, then read the book normally, and have fun with all the tricks the author uses to mislead you.

Well, writers have many levers to move, and they do it. Why? To debore the bored reader, right?

  • Show who did it at the beginning (Columbo)
  • Two investigators or more
  • More violence, or comedy
  • Change rhythm : get slow, or hysterical
  • Weird detective (Twin Peaks)
  • More scientific, political, etc (find a field)
  • Research in a foreign place or country
  • Trick (Silence of the Lambs : a killer helps to find a killer, haha)
  • More estheticism, more complexity (Blow Up)
  • Disappearance of an element (no body, no murder, no detective, no solution, etc)

Each attempts seems boring to me, but sometimes is works, Okeyyy. That’s the purpose (and the dial of this article) in poetry, advertising, photography, writing, etc :

How do you recover a bored audience?

Thanks for reading!

JP

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Fixin’to #traveling (again without moving) in the #USA

Sweatin’ like a sinner in church…

I downloaded a bunch of Smithsonian TV episodes of Aerial America. I just watched the Michigan one, and, say, I’ll probably watch the whole pack!

It’s just one hour long, it’s “taken from helicopter” so I see the country from above, it’s… interesting. There’s a little of History and some funny stories (Kellog’s, Detroit, Eminem, General Motors, Ford, the German population, lakes, and the fact it’s divided in two pieces). The flaws are : there are not enough maps to explain things. It’s not linked enough to the neighbor states. And the narration is a little too much American-TV (so everything is “THE BEST OF THE WORLD” – or the biggest stadium of the country, the greatest factory of the fifties in America, or the longest bridge EVER, etc).

I also have a pack of movies about American History. It’ll help, this summer, I bet, to move forward.

You’ll find plenty of arrogant European people telling that people in USA are non traveling ignorants who don’t even know where Belgium or Italy are on a map. But ask a French what is the capital of Colorado, or to place Oklahoma on the US Map, and you’ll see.

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I began to read the hilarious Bill Bryson book called The Lost Continent. This guy is from Iowa and decided one day to explore his country with two big loops (cf map). So my next episodes will be Iowa and maybe Missouri. It’s another way to visit without moving, right?

When Bryson crosses some cities like Des Moines, Hannibal or Palmyra, I often stop reading and I go on Instagram. I search Pella, Iowa, for example, and, well, I see the land, the sky, the church, the roads, what people do, what people like (cycling or all terrain vehicles?). Do I see vineyards or corn fields? I can’t wait for Wiscasset, Maine, right? I Google-mapped too, a little.

I wonder what you people “feel” when you see one of yours words written in the UK way. For example with realise/realize or colour/color.

Yesterday I spent a lot of time on YouTube exploring accents. What is really the Southern Accent? So I watched this :

 

Sorry for my English, it’s difficult some days. I’m French, after all!…

Thanks for reading!

JP

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Instagram : la_fille_de_la_cote