“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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“Don’t lose your inner child and stay a child… from time to time, OK?”

– I wanna watch Thor Ragnarok!
– No : tonight it’s Stalker, by Tarkovsky…
– Oh noooooo… Pffff…

 

ONE

“Don’t lose your inner child” seems a splendid advice. The spirit of childhood is almost a superpower!

Everybody understands that : the capacity to marvel, curiosity, a genuine sense of happiness, love of simple things, ability to lose yourself into an activity, gathering ideas like shells…

I hope you kept it. And if you don’t, your own children can show you : you just have to watch them play, together or alone, 100% focused…

“Garder son âme d’enfant” (to keep your child’s soul”)

 

TWO

But there’s a difference between keeping your inner child and… staying a child in your head. Refusing to be an adult. Fleeing responsibilities. Bottle-feeding mainstream teen medias, which makes you an obedient larva…

You’ll be a perfect consumer!

 

THREE

Don’t lose your inner child, AND grow up as an adult, using this spark in your eye. From time to time :

  1. Explore Arts you don’t know
  2. Stay away from mainstream entertainment
  3. Be autonomous in your search
  4. Stop “reacting” to medias all the time
  5. Let your “cultural comfort zone” behind
  6. Study and draw maps about what you’ll explore
  7. Draw your own path
  8. Try adult things

 

– Yes, but I wanna watch Thor!
– OK, but tomorrow, it’s Tarkovky.
– Okey! Can we read some Garfield in bed?
– Nope : we go on with this Manet biography.
– Pffffffffff…

(Yes, it was a dialog between me and myself. Yes I watched Thor yesterday, and Stalker today. So there!)

 

Thanks for reading!

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STALKER is a treasure: an invitation to go on a mental ride with a poet and philosopher. A film that makes you wonder more about yourself yet without making you anxious. The few existing films like STALKER are the reason why cinema is called “art”! (IMDB comment)

 

 

Chains of Movies Wandering

There are so many ways to choose a movie! As some say, Netflix‘s robots are clever enough to suggest you new movies you’d like. Good.

As I don’t really move with the times, I like to choose, therefore I don’t watch any “Channels”. So I build “chain of movies”.

This game says : choose a movie, then find any link to another movie which will be the next.

Some chains are obvious : same director, or same year. Those are easy (all Bergman’s movies, all 1961 movies, all Ava Gardner movies) but you quickly dead end, right?

Chose directors of photography – you can then talk or think about the light in the movies. Reading books, watching the bonuses… Culture.

One of my best travels : Adaptations of Tennessee Williams plays at the cinema (Entertainment made a page on this : http://ew.com/gallery/tennessee-williams-movies/ )

Increase freedom : invent a new link after each movie.

From the last Star Wars you can watch Looper (same director), or Paterson (Actor : Adam Driver). After Patterson, another Jarmusch : Only Lovers Left alive… Ending in Morocco… Hmmm?

Stay with an Actress a few movies long (Emily Blunt). Stop with Edge of Tomorrow. Appreciate the light (Dion Beebe is the Director of Photography). Therefore watch Collateral (double link: Tom Cruise), the great Memoirs of a Geisha (music composed by John Williams : great! – He’s old therefore you can explore the past : go to Sugarland Express).

Choose the composer, but also the State. Thus, you could spend a month watching movies happening is West Virginia or… Tuscany, right?

 

OK, t’was my game. It’s an artifice to discover movies you wouldn’t have thought of.

What’s the tool, toolbox blogger?

Mmhh… How to organize things to get lost on purpose… in order to discover newness. OK.

 

Have a nice day!

Jean-Pascal

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When your comfort zone is in Mainstream Children Marketing, you live in PARADISE

Why do I feel a slight nausea when I see BB-8 with a Santa Claus Hat or the death star covered with snow?

The concept of Comfort Zone is useful. Inside this (we all need that, right?), we’re easy and happy, like a sleeping baby. We have all we need, that’s COOL. You absolutely don’t have to explore the outside : it’s unknown, maybe dangerous, blah blah blah, and you could discover things…

If you’re an adult and you love Harry Potter, Disney, Star Wars and all the marketing around it (Pop Figures, Lego, etc) and you have plenty of money, I see you live in total and uninterrupted paradise. For your own happiness, you just have to visit stores. Then, as a good target you are, you’ll go from one “Oh! Ah!” to “Woaw that’s cool! I want it!”.

EVERYTHING there is ready for you and for your bliss : Lego Star Wars Advent Calendars, Harry Potter Hogwarts Houses Goodies (scarves, tee shirts, etc), Disney Consumer Products (you’ll find plenty of elements of their targeting processes on the web, for example here : https://www.marketing91.com/marketing-strategy-walt-disney/ ). I told you : it’s paradise!!

Happiness in idiocy is exactly what the system needs from you. Consent, obedience, servitude.

As long as you’re smiling with this new Falcon Millenium Lego or this Avengers Captain America doormat ($86 51 + $4.49 shipping on Amazon, today) or this very cool Disney/Pixar Cars 3 Ultimate Florida Speedway Track Set ($179.74 & FREE shipping – 36 customer reviews), you’re OK. Life is a beauty! There are “822 results for Toys & Games : “Jack Skellington” on Amazon. Havem all?

“Come on! Live with your time!”

Yes, well : NO. I have another comfort zone, which is, in culture, I hope, a little larger. I’ll watch the new Star Wars for sure, and Blade Runner 2049 was great, but this week I read an interview with Lenny Bernstein about the Rite of Spring, tweets by Taleb, articles by Serge Daney or Pasolini, talked about dreams or creativity about Valéry (poet), realism (or not, cf Sorolla) in Zorn’s paintings, Sander’s links with Walker Evans (photographer), or symbols analyzed by Durand (anthropologist who liked Bachelard). Tonight I’ll probably watch… The Servant, by Losey. A good way to think about this, right?

And I’d hang myself if I had to watch cartoons while I coffee in the morning!

Argh! Bloody hell! I just realized that my comfort zone was… to expand mine.

Lazy me.

Trapped. Me moorings awweeeee.

 

Have a nice day!

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When you ask a stranger about your country…

When you ask a stranger about your country, you probably trigger a good conversation. Cultural differences are infinite, and an attentive person will probably be amazed by daily things you don’t notice anymore : the way people talk to each other, the way stores are organized, the houses, the sky, churches, markets, TV, the way people walk, or dress according to their age, food, car, driving manners, books’ colors.

I love this kind of conversation, mainly because it’s interesting for both camps. Your friend from abroad will, in a way, give you new eyes to see your own country. Disillusions or amazements with all the shades between, all this make you think…

Therefore you want to hear more, you both laugh and smile, you compare with what they have to say about their country. How is it different? Why? Is it good? How is the wind? The air? How do men watch women? Do people talk to each other when they wait in line? How is politeness, manners?

You will want to visit the other side, right?

But sometimes I ask too much. I’m like “Hey hello! Do you like it here? What did you notice?”, and I get “Nathing. Everything’s normal. It’s cool”. Well. OK!

Have a nice trip!

Have a nice day! Bonne journée !

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Isn’t there a little tool here? When and where, in our lives, would we need to have “fresh eyes”? How can we get that? Alone or with a friend who’d play the stranger? Why do I think about the frog in boiling water?…

“Please glance and tell what you see…”

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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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