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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Because of “you”, this French Verlaine’s poem can not be translated in English.

1 Tu or Vous?

You know that in France we have two different “YOU”.

  • It’s “VOUS” for the people you don’t know very well, your teacher, strangers, etc.
  • And we say “TU” to siblings, lovers, parents and good friends.

I know, it’s a bit complicated when you speak English. Your “How are you?” becomes “Comment vas-tu?” to my brother and my friends, and “Comment allez-vous?” to my neighbors, my mother-in-law, etc.

Sooo…  How are vous? or How are tu? See?

Of course you get that it’s very important in France, because vous is more polite, creates a safe distance, etc. As a French, we are easily offended by the wrong or too early “tu”. Some web pages targeting teenagers use the “tu” communication (in emails, for example), which can be tricky and over-familiar to many.

 

2 Verlaine

There’s an classic poem in France, named Colloque Sentimental, which begins like that :

Dans le vieux parc solitaire et glacé
Deux formes ont tout à l’heure passé.

In the lonely old park’s frozen glass
Two shadows lately passed.

Ha! You see the mood! These two were lovers, and they now talk about the past. Of course it becomes a cruel game between the wax lyrical guy and his cold ex.
So here is a part of their dialog :

– Te souvient-il de notre extase ancienne ?
– Pourquoi voulez-vous donc qu’il m’en souvienne ?

– Ton coeur bat-il toujours à mon seul nom ?
Toujours vois-tu mon âme en rêve ? – Non.

Ah ! les beaux jours de bonheur indicible
Où nous joignions nos bouches ! – C’est possible.

‘Do you recall our former ecstasies?’
‘Why do you want me to remember that?’
 
‘Does your heart still beat at my name alone?’
‘Is it always my soul you see in dream?’ – ‘No’.
 
‘Oh the lovely days of unspeakable mystery,
When our mouths met!’ – ‘Maybe.’

 

3 Translating the You?

Look closer at this one (you see me coming). The man asks :

– Te souvient-il de notre extase ancienne ? ‘Do you recall our former ecstasies?’

“Te souvient-il” is a formal way to say “Tu te souviens”. It’s the TU form of a close relation.

The woman’s answer is :

– Pourquoi voulez-vous donc qu’il m’en souvienne ?

She uses the VOUS form, speaking to him as a stranger. Putting a distance between them, saying “I don’t know vous very well”. So, the real answer is more like :

Why the fuck do you want me to remember that?

…but this is not poetry, right?

On the web I found :

  • “Why should I remember it at all?”
  • “Why would you have me rake up memories?”
  • “Why ever should you wish me to remember?”

All are correct, and we get her point, right?

BUT there’s no way, in a translation, you can feel the distance she puts using VOUS, instead of the TU she used to say in his arms, in older times.

Now, do you feel the guy tightening heart?

Aaawweeee!

Thanks for reading!

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Paintings : Joseph Lorusso

Sad Heart, Merry Spirit : Chronicle 9

I read in a Claude Roy diary, as he’s around 70 years old, that he would like to reach this season, this state : “Le temps du cœur triste et de l’esprit gai” – the time of the sad heart and the merry spirit.

Here I have a vocabulary problem : is “gai” happy, merry, gay, jolly? I don’t know. I chose merry.

But I’m very fascinated by this “goal”, from an aged author I liked very much. As if he knew he could never heal his heart. But, knowing this, building his own happiness, a “merry spirit”. This touched me, a lot.

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Just read an article evoking Robert Osborne, a TCM Television Presenter who just died at 87 years old. It is told that Olivia de Havilland had with him :

One phone call a week, for decades.

Awwweeee! (-> this was the sound of my merry spirit). I wish I had a friend so close that she would call me once a week until I die at 87. Like a whatever-happens-I-want-to-talk-with-you. Awwweeee again (my merry spirit if very merried by this idea).

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I read (but where, is it Casanova or Jünger?) about the Venice Purse, a knack which says that when you have to go to a “dangerous” place (which was Venice at the time), you needed to have two purses, one with a little money in case you’re robbed, attacked, knocked out, and another one with the main part of it – well hidden.

It’s just funny to know, but then you realize that when you travel abroad you really have to think about what you do with your passport, the amount of money you have with you, etc. I wonder what this concept can tell us about life in general : Be cautious? Watch the exits? Don’t put all your eggs in the same basket? But also : GO to places where you need to think about the Venice Purse, right?

Venice, in French, is VENISE. A perfect word to say : Venizzz. Elegant as a swan, right? Venice is more like braking at the end. No good. French better, sorry.

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Elmore Leonard says somewhere about novels writing : “If it seems written, I rewrite”.

What a beautiful idea, right? Writing Style Dissimulation Efforts.

And a paradox many artists know well : work, work, work, until nobody sees you worked. It’s an interesting goal, and the path itself is enthralling too. How to reach?

There’s a balance to find, I suppose. It means you have the eyes to know when it’s not OK, when it is OK. Experience.

Well I have a vocabulary problem again. When do you use “enthralling“, dear? Can you say that about a person? How is it radioactivitied? Thrilling? Fearful? Exciting? Or more like “plainfully satisfying”?

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I watched the Iowa episode of Aerial America yesterday. It’s amazing how many times I hear “French” in these. Detroits and Illinois were “frenchised” words, and how Iowa is a piece of this territory called Louisiana, the US bought to the French 214 years ago.

These TV programs tell me how BIG are the United States. Tonight I’ll watch Illinois, following the path of Bill Bryson’s book across America in car (cf Fixin’to traveling in the USA).

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OK, it’s too long. I seize the run-up since a few weeks (is “seize the run-up” a good title?), like making the most of an epistolary energy…

I stop here. Next Chronicle next week. Here’s le hug by Ze French :

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Have a nice day!

 

Palm of Ordinary Seeds & Masters Wrong : Chronicle 8

Within my reach !
I could have touched !
I might have chanced that way !
Emily Dickinson 

 

For some of us, who have inside a sort of “rush”, a surge, an inner run-up force, there are many ways. You can Huckleberry Finn along a river, you can also Kerouac all along the road, you can choose a passion (collecting – forks or shipwreck books -, throw yourself into sports, politics, veganism or religion, anything that can keep you busy). If you have young kids, you don’t have to worry : these little brats will keep you busy. You can disappear, too, into alcoholism or antidepressants, or sleep. Shopping, why not, if you’re moneyfilled.

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My daughter was in England all past week in Plymouth, including the day people were killed and stabbed in London. You will see plenty of pictures of people in Europa saying “We Are Not Afraid”, and, like Londonians during the V1 V2 Nazi bombing during WWII, we are NOT afraid. I told my daughters to live, to shop, go to theaters and restaurants and have fun with friends. That’s our way to resist : to stay ourselves against idiots.

And yes : spot the emergency exits, everywhere they go.

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When you advise a friend to read a book, to watch a movie, and she or he asks why, you answer : “You will know once you’re on it”. With a certain smile, right?

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When a window is closed, another can open. What kind? What is different? What if it was the last window, closed for ever?

After a big disappointment, what’s left ? Pieces : misanthropy, auto-torture about ideals and dreams, and Art as a shelter.

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What do we do (or think we can do) against an formidable enemy, a wrong energy? What if you can’t resist because it would be stupidly useless? Seeds for an article :

  • Don Quichotte’s mills
  • A drop in the water
  • An attempt for appel d’air
  • Dessiller (open sb’s eyes)
  • Draw maps (for later)
  • Barometer (to warn)
  • Warn, alert
  • Guerilla
  • Witness
  • Grains of sand (in the clock)
  • Breaches & holes drilling

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Map of Variations :

To draw a map is very common. You can use it anytime, on anything. Territory, music, history, love. Then it’s not “really” a map, but a set of informations about something complex, a table, a chart.

Choose a song and list elements : lyrics, instruments, production, place of instruments in the sound, construction. There’s one “another nature” map, though : It’s how all these change and evolve in time.

Seed/Tool : in every chart you find or work on, think about the MoV.

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Feedbacking a patient can have a great effect, I read once. It’s probably the same for teachers, parents… It means : stopping being “The One Who Knows”, ride down next to your patient/student, and talk man-to-man about YOU. This can have a tremendous good effect. Your advice, on this?

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This is a seed for short stories : “When imminent danger is a godsend”. Why, where, how, etc. Your turn!

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Embarrassment when you see a Master out of his domain. Nietzsche’s music? Schoenberg’s paintings? Or someone you know? A great cook trying to fix his car? A genius computer programmer parenting? And so what?

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Sapiosexual breakups are the worse. Because instead of missing an inventing sex life, magic tenderness and a silky skin, you miss a thinking brain, a conversation master, a challenging thinker, you miss questions, surprises, bends and laughs. AND magic tenderness, okay. That’s worse, eventually.

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Eventually is a very tricky word for us French. I know it means “after some time”, or even “finally”. But in French, “éventuellement” means “possibly”, or “potentially”. Well, even now I have to check. Each time I use it. My brain doesn’t not want it. I always want to call Obama on the phone to explain him there’s a mistake.

Thanks for reading! Have a great day!

Jean-Pascal

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#vintage #cocacola

I like this little one, improbable combination of classic Coca-Cola vintage America and the soooo French “Délicieux avec de bons mets”.

Mets means “dish” (as a “food course”), but it’s unused today, dated and… vintage.

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