When the pleasure is in the comparison

ONE

I just watched Seven Samurai (Japan, black & white, 1954), then The Magnificent Seven (1960).

It’s a big pleasure watching both, but each time it’s very different. Kurosawa’s movie looks very odd, because of the culture, the language and the well known Japanese actors’ intensity. The US one is much more easy and comfortable, with stars (Steve McQueen, Yul Brynner…).

But there’s a “side-pleasure” : you compare. The stories the paces, the ends, the bad guys, the fights…

TWO

Traveling! Tourists have many ways of being tourists : in a group, alone, moving around and visiting, or staying in one city (choose Paris, OK?) and walk “going whichever way the wind blows” (we say “le nez au vent” – nose in the wind).

It’s beautiful or not, deceiving or marvelous, you take pictures or you chat with your spouse. But you have to admit :

The pleasure, again, is in the comparisons game.

THREE

There’s a game I love : learning another language. It’s absolutely full of delights. Culturally. Translating. Discovering idioms. Trying to find out where translated words don’t really fit, match the other language. Finding similar words… or traitors (a library (bibliothèque) is NOT a librairie (bookstore) in France…).

It is, constantly, a game of comparisons.

FOUR

I strongly think that a big part of our inner life is linked to the world with the concept of Analogy. We endlessly get informations with our senses (about places, culture, and people, everything we meet) and then we braincompute them with what-we-already-know with analogy.

Then, we compare. Then, we decide.

This decision can be : run away, explore, smile, talk, anything.

OUTRO

Where else does it happen to you? Where could you trigger a “game of comparisons”? How is it an enrichment? Where is the effort? What about memories? Analogy with them?

Thanks for reading!

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Delicious Toxicities

I thought a lot yesterday after my article, about the fact that some artists, some stories, some movies are disturbing, or hard to understand, or even toxic to us. Some persons too!

I talked a lot about this idea, which is like an obsession to me.

I could listen to Abba all day but sometimes I feel I have to explore Mahler, even if it’s very complicated. I have to read, to listen many times, it’s a mess. I need to make efforts. I have to work.

I watched Mission Impossible 6 and it was such a pleasure. But I need to watch Manchester by the Sea, and Ladybird, and Phantom Thread, and Bergman’s Persona – I needed 3 evenings to finish this last one. Efforts : it was like a puzzle for the mind, it was complicated.

“Pourquoi faire simple quand on peut faire compliqué”, say the French. Why being simple when you can be complicated?

How come I want to explore things which need… efforts? I don’t know. Exploring is a good feeling. And I love structures : I dream to watch every movie of 1960 just to have an idea of the mood of the era. I will attack Miles Davis one day. I promise.

Mahler is hard. Proust is hard. Bergman is hard. Bacon (the painter) is hard. And learning a new language too!

I don’t think it’s about efforts, even if it’s needed. It’s about exploring. Extending something. Enriching? Of course, one solution is to quit, or to give up on these beginnings. But I won’t : I need to be disturbed, I beg.

Why? Because it changes things in you. Progress, it’s about. Evolving.

It’s like when I see a new challenge in Gurushots. I have to take a steampunk photo, and I don’t have any pictures of that. I have to invent one. It’s… a challenge – I had great fun.

 

Thanks for reading!

Happily, the challenge today was “Green”. Not to hard :

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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!”

 

 

Not “Evil vs Good”, but “Chaos vs Order”

Many mainstream movies have this pattern : “Evil vs Good”, and a good villain is funny, right?

Today I’ll play a cross-game with another pattern : “Chaos vs Order”.

It can be similar : “Evil brings Chaos, and Good brings back Order”.

But of course you’re like me, sensing, that the contrary is true, and probably more interesting…

Evil = Order, like the First Order in Star Wars, and the perfectly aligned Nazis army.

Order means “every rule obeyed”, and that’s a bit 1984…

Yesterday I watched “A little Chaos“, a charming little film (directed by Alan Rickman!) : chaos brought by an inventing gardener hired by Le Nôtre – while Louis XIV was building Versailles, in France.

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

“Something uniquely French”? Order, but with a little chaos, or a casualness, maybe a slice of disobedience (to the rules), effortless elegance, imperfections embrace. Yeah, that’s the Parisian Elegance…

 

Well, I have this in mind since I saw “perfect gardens” – my brain was craving for fantasy! There’s a wiki for https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_garden_types –

 

Well, is it an article? Beginning with cinema, then France, then gardening? In what other fields of the human activities do we have to find our own frontier, balance, between chaos and order? In rocket science, 100% order, right? Art of Battle : 80%? What is discipline? What and where is invention? Can we have both at the same time? Differences of nature, quantity, places?

Have a nice day!

 

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Waterbudding & Recombinations : To learn is to unlearn?

It came in a conversation.

There are two ways of learning :

  1. One is to pile up knowledge. Your culture gets bigger, like a balloon.
  2. One is to unlearn.

 

We all stacklearn! We know more. At the same time, as the skyscraper grows, maybe the first floors vanish. That’s OK. You know more this and you know less that – because it lost it accuracy, or whatever.

 

To learn-unlearn seems to be cleverer, right? Our new knowledges have an effect of what we already know.

  • Ideas recombines!
  • They struggle to find their place!
  • They fight. They dance!
  • They cut old branches!
  • They water buds!
  • They add features to the engine!

 

Heyyy I found the final word for this article :

 

Them with an open book is a student

Them with three open books is a thinker

 

 

Have a nice day. Thanks for reading.

 

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Photos : Galen Rowell

“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)