Flounceness Quietism

Quietism is a doctrine introduced from Spain to France in the XVIIth Century.

It’s an interesting thing to study even if you’re not a believer!

You just had to find a state, a calm quiet state, to reach, without all the flounces and frills of rites and charity, a total simple communion with God.

In a way, that’s convenient, like a Zen idea of religion : no need to pray or fast to reach a state of perfection, an easy sinless (as you don’t have to obey millions of rules) and sacramentless state.

“…neither fear of punishment nor desire for the reward of eternal life having anything to do with this pure love of God.”

So it’s been a great fight in France between Fenelon, an archbishop and Bossuet, a theologian and orator (you can Wikipedia all this, it’s quite funny).

Adoration, cut from all terrestrial ties, redacted from any search of “rewards”, or fear of punishments : no more prayers, confessions, fear of hell, no more care of Jesus and all questions about this.

 

The tool here is :

What if you suppress all intermediaries? What if you reach the source? What if you focus on the core? What frills and rites do you kill?

Where do we find that? Hierarchies? Politics? Tell me…

 

Thanks for reading!

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How could we call the science of ways of studying a field?

Imagine you want to study a big subject, like Greek Mythology or History of Italy, or American Cinema…

It’s all a matter of choices. The vocabulary is interesting :

  1. Boundaries : time, places, links with other fields.
  2. Sources : books, dictionaries, articles, web.
  3. Methodology : reading, writing, thinking, asking.
  4. Guides : what is the first book, which will help you to decide others? Who would you ask advices?
  5. Maps : bibliography, etc.

 

Mythology : What collection of myths would I study? How do I move into this? With scholars or popularizers? Greek only, or Roman too? Do I read novels? Do I link mythology with history (Troy)? Literature (Odyssey)? Do I care about legends, or characters? Do I visit the places in Greece? Do I study the influences of it in modern times? On what : words (names on places, months, characters), stories, art? Do I confront different schools of scholars?

How do I study the US Civil War? Men? Battles? Slavery? Chronology? Links with Europa? Maps?

How do I do?

  • I like to have a dictionary
  • Old history next to new history books
  • A casualness (a freedom born from the fact I’m having pleasure, and I’m not writing a thesis)
  • Zooming (studying precisely a single day, for example)
  • Biographies or testimonies from people who were there
  • Blogs
  • Piling books and pecking into them

 

What did I study like that? Manet and Picasso, Brian de Palma and Akira Kurosawa, French Revolution, US Civil War, Napoléon, the battle of Stalingrad, the D-Day, Chekhov and Faulkner, Brahms, Bartok and Stravinsky, Puccini’s operas, strangeization in Arts,

And you?

How could we call the science of ways of studying a field?

Thanks for reading!

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Pic : Tamas Deszo

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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!”

 

 

The Hundred Days

In 1814, after years of war, Napoleon abdicated and was exiled on the little isle of Elba, near Italy. No more Empire.

So for almost a year, we got in France what we call The First Restoration, which means that after the Revolution and Napoleon’s Empire, the King of France was back.

Napoleon escaped from the island in February 1815 and sailed towards south of France, landing near Cannes with a little 1.000 men.

Then he began to travel North (towards Paris). His little army grew up quickly because the troops the King sent to stop him… joined his cause!

The king escaped with royalists, and Napoleon was back at the head of France – for 110 days (what we call The Hundred Days), until he was defeated at the battle of Waterloo, in June.

He was then exiled on the Island of St Helena.

Another restauration…

 

This is an exemple of a magnifier search you can do in the history of a country. The Hundred Days are interesting for the Napoleon’s travel towards Paris (and the rallying of old soldiers to their Emperor), for the mess between old aristocrats (the “real” Nobility) and the Nobility of Empire, the hesitations of some generals, for Waterloo of course, etc etc…

I didn’t add any link here : have fun googling The Hundred Days if you want to know more.

The big danger with this guy is well known : you could get addicted to this era (as some French guys get obsessed with the Civil War, for example).

 

Thanks for reading!

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Chipping off prone varnish of Civilization

This night I dreamed of a street. It looked like a Japanese suburb. In a quiet evening, I was with my family outside, behind the house. Kids were playing in the garden, though night had fallen already.

Then something happened, far in the city. We heard screams in the distance. Then some people, more and more people began to pass in front of the house. I was watching them from my porch. They were worried, like fleeing something.

I stood up, listening to the night, on the look out for clues. I heard more screams, more people, like a river. I heard someone saying : “People are really fighting over there, phewww!”.

I grabbed the kids, my wife : “Hop hop! Everyone inside!”. Then… I woke up, in a grey mood, with this word in my head : “Varnish“.

 

Civilization as a “varnish over something” is a classic metaphor. Depends on what you think about : over opaque nature, over barbarism of men, over… absurdity?

Fragile varnish, chipping off prone.

Well, cities can burn, wars and earthquakes – or revolutions – can fracture the skeleton of social structures enough to push entire counties to different strange Middle Ages.

It’s probably why many humans are fascinated by “after the bomb” or epidemic (or zombie) movies, when one or a little group of humans has to gather to protect themselves against… something.

As a bookseller I see that many people buy books about survivalism. How do you do when there’s no electricity anymore?

 

Social collapse can also lead to other things.

When the Russians arrived in Berlin in 1945, it was about another kind of survivalism. German people (mostly women, kids and old people) had to find food, water… and find hideouts not to be raped… For months.

 

Isn’t our health a similar varnish? We move forward, full of trust, until…

 

OK. How will I finish this article? A boring “Don’t take things too seriously” quote? I don’t think so. No, let’s BE serious. One day, we will maybe HAVE to be seriously serious.

No : let’s invent a meta-story full of paradoxes and lessons. Oui ?

 

An author lives with wife and kids in a wealthy neighborhood. He writes a novel about a family trying to survive after a nuclear war (no electricity, fires, looters, violent riots, nuclear winter coming).
Our guy has fun and makes progress in his writing, but a REAL terrible earthquake happens, destroying 80% of his city. Chaos ensues (no electricity, fires, looters, no more police or hospitals, etc). Confrontation between his ideas for the book and… reality.

You have a week.

Have a great day!

 

PS : In my dream, should I have had taken my family out of my house, or was it a good idea to hide inside?

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Freedom & Hungriness : exploring a domain “in a roundabout way”

Imagine you want to explore the life of Abraham Lincoln, or the D-Day. You can do that the proper way, reading a biography or watching a good documentary. But I like to find other path, in a roundabout way, finding another door, another color, being a little casual and inappropriate.

Take the Lincoln example. You can :

  • Read about someone’s around : his wife, a general, his murderer.
  • Read about what happened after him, or the American life before him.
  • Find pictures on the web about him, his life, his handwritten letters.
  • Read a diary of somebody who knew him.
  • Find everything about his opponents.
  • Explore one month only of his life and the country’s life too.
  • Find a Lincoln forum on the web and spend months exploring, reading questions and answers of specialists.

Tool :

Casualness in knowledge exploration is a possible way.

Thanks for reading!

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