Ze Post Poppins Blues & other “zooms in”

Mary Poppins & Teorema & My Uncle are three movies about a stranger who comes in a house, disturbs all systems, and at the end leaves the place in a mess of changes. It’s a little pattern in movies history, let’s call it the stranger/revealer. I googled the titles and spent a good time exploring this. Poppins is built on an invisible tree (she comes to “save the father”). The visitor in Teorema is a revealer/disturber – some say it’s God himself, or destiny. And Monsieur Hulot in My Uncle is just the happy French casualness and poetry messing with “modernity”, concrete and productivity.

You can enlarge it in clicking “Mysterious Visitor” in IMDB’s Plot Keywords, you’ll get plenty of, including horror movies.

But I’d prefer playing with the ZOOM today, restraining things to a more little aspect.

I wanted to write something about what happens AFTER Poppins and others. What could happen in movies, after the visit of a disturber. Struggles, changes, back to “normal”, chaos? It could be funny to imagine…

So my tool today becomes : biased Zoom in.

Choose a field, a structure, and choose to find or to study a little part of it, an unknown window, another entry, what happens before, or after. A strange zoom.

You can study resistance to change in hierarchies, but also “what if it was good?”, too. You can write about manipulators, but also about “what happens exactly when the narcissistic perv catches his prey”. You can spend months about mindfulness, but also and suddenly the contrary. How NOT to pay attention, and why.

So, well, the idea is to ZOOM IN on a field, with a deviant will, not in the center, with a bias of invention, generous wrongness, happy curiosity, to find something nobody had the idea to study before. Ideas. Seeds.

Have a good day!

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You can read also :

When to NOT pay attention is an Art for decision making

 

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Proust was a blogger…

“Remembrance of things past
is not necessarily the remembrance of things as they were.”

― Marcel Proust

 

 

Proust is a well known French writer, renowned for his… difficult style. You’ll Google it if you want to try, OK?

Thus, in France (and probably elsewhere) you often hear this “I tried Proust, but I couldn’t finish it”, with a little funny face.

Well, OK, I never finished it either! Reading Proust is like eating a feast everyday. It’s exhausting!

  • Worse : you can not really read something else, because every writer looks like a dumb moron after Proust. Too much intelligence pulls you in an awe, where air is rare.
  • Worse : you want to grab anyone you know to scream “Read Proust, it’s amazing!”. No, come on, it’s impossible to read him.
  • Worse : Proust’s style, made of long, complex phrases, with an absolute lack of concessions (for the reader), is like dive into it, or else…

Therefore : you have to make an effort. Each time you plunge in Proust you have to. You’re like “OMG it’s dense!”, then you find the marvels. A bit like opera, you see? If you don’t make an effort, an opera is a boring story with people singing like crazy about stupid dramas. Make an effort to find your own pleasure : voices, performance, music, comparing, etc…

Once you did it, here it is : Proust is a blogger.

One day I explained it to my best friend. She was like “Meh”. OK, I said. I picked up the book, read a page (randomly), and we found an idea. So good it filled the evening in conversations.

The only secret is this : do not take it too solemnly. It’s not a cathedral. La Recherche (“In Search of the Lost Time”) is just a huge great book. If you’re bored, breathe and pass a page. YES. Go on. You’ll find emerald & pearls. It’ll kill you (it’s soo good). One day, it’s enough. Read something else.

In each page you’ll find one or more ideas. Each one could let you thinking smiling watching the sky, like “Ohh, that’s true!”.

He’s a blogger. But he’s better than you, I warn you…

 

Have a nice day!

 

“Every reader, as he reads, is actually the reader of himself. The writer’s work is only a kind of optical instrument he provides the reader so he can discern what he might never have seen in himself without this book. The reader’s recognition in himself of what the book says is the proof of the book’s truth.”
― Marcel Proust, Time Regained

 

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“Now there is one thing I can tell you: you will enjoy certain pleasures you would not fathom now. When you still had your mother you often thought of the days when you would have her no longer. Now you will often think of days past when you had her. When you are used to this horrible thing that they will forever be cast into the past, then you will gently feel her revive, returning to take her place, her entire place, beside you. At the present time, this is not yet possible. Let yourself be inert, wait till the incomprehensible power … that has broken you restores you a little, I say a little, for henceforth you will always keep something broken about you. Tell yourself this, too, for it is a kind of pleasure to know that you will never love less, that you will never be consoled, that you will constantly remember more and more.”
Marcel Proust

 

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What I read

What do I read? What am I reading? I don’t know. Not novels in any case. Not anymore. Shortly, I’d say they fall off my hands – because of “I feel the author behind the story” thing – but that’s another story.

 

Nietzsche had a great mustache, right? This dictionary is like an infinite reservoir of ideas. I open it at a random page from time to time. Even if you’re not a scholar, but just a seeds seeker. I don’t need more than five minutes to find a brilliant idea.

This Goya‘s biography is perfect. It’s written by a great Spanish writer. I learn a lot about painting, Spain in 18th Century, Art, cities, history, and… a great personality!… Another universe is good to explore from time to time.

Billeter wrote these three little essays about translations. It’s a field I really always love to dig in. It’s about Chinese-French translations, and it’s full of delightful subtleties… This “Art” requires to activate thin and precise tools of the mind…

Arthur Miller went to China in the eighties to direct of one of his plays (Death of a Salesman). He wrote his diary about all of it. The play is considered one of the best American plays of the XXth Century, and the book is really delicious : intelligence at work. Cultural differences, directing a play, meeting professionals…

The Pléiade of Paul Valéry is exhausting. 1700 pages (and it’s a half of his “Notebooks”!) of good ideas (sorted by topics : eros, poetry, conscience, arts, etc). Brief notes, ideas, concepts, etc. This poet was a huge thinker. He amazes me with his original intelligence. Each paragraph (OK : almost) has the power to drop you in a pool of ideas. He taught me this huge thing : “To see is to forget the name of the thing one sees.” (think : labels, photography, poetry, invention, serendipity, refining intelligence… : see?).

Paul Jorion is a Belgian economist, and he has big common sense. This diary is very, very smart. The kind of bulblights which give smiles.

OK I’m fond of Proust, but sometimes you don’t want to plunge into the “too great” In Search of the Lost Time. I just pick up these essays, then. Lighter. Ideas everywhere, like seeds in the wind. This man had many brains. He is exhausting, generous, and you have to run (to try) to follow. This is a great experience though. You’ll know very few humans in your real life capable of that generosity : enlargingactivating your brain.

Koolhaas is a architect-thinker. This should just be enough to make you salivate, right?

Yalom (the psychiatrist) wrote a few novels, but here it’s an essay. NO mercy for anybody : he talks “at his level”. It’s wise, hard, and exhilarating!

I have this little book about Caillebotte, an impressionist painter, for me a genius of light. If you want to study a good example of “what is new” in Art, try Manet.

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

François Jullien is a French philosopher. Obsessed by China (again?!) he invented concepts based on the fertile differences between occident and this country. I wrote many times about him : The Propensity of Things – for example. He’s a tools provider.

Reading the diary of Gide is like watching a brain at work. He sees, he writes, he travels, he thinks, wonders, doubts. This diary is like… adorable, dense, and always surprising.

Duras was a great French writer, with a real strange gorgeous style. I love her excesses. She’s weird, paradoxical and marvellous. She talks here about her life, her choices.

Deleuze is always not far from my shelves. For me he is the best French philosopher, full of ideas, new concepts and a bit of searchy craziness and virtuosity of the mind.

Charles Juliet is a French writer. He’s dark but quiet, calm, precise, shy, humble. His diaries are like hugging you – with acuteness. He also is a tracker (of himself, of other’s tropisms too).

Edward Said astonished me with this idea of the “Late Style” – what great artists do when they are after maturity. It’s GREAT and the preface ditto (can I say that?).

Bryson borrowed a car, travelled across the USA, wrote this little book about “everything OMG” he saw. It’s hilarious!

Roustang is an hypnotherapist and wrote this whole book about the contrary of every self help book (which all say : move your ass). “Know how to wait”. Hmmm?

 

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Thanks for… reading!

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“Museums are dwellings that house only thoughts” – Proust on Rembrandt

“Museums are dwellings that house only thoughts”, wrote Proust in a little essay about Rembrandt, paintings and museums.

You’ll find the book if you need it. Here’s in brief what he says :

People go visit museums (ex : Rembrandt), they see paintings : horses, ladies, a necklace, a window, a light, a tree, etc… Like a list of elements, in line. Then they… notice some links between Rembrandt’s paintings. Textures, common elements, moods, colors he used…

But at one moment Proust says that a walk in a museum is interesting for a thinker only if suddenly he has an idea – which seems a rich one, and would likely engender richer other ones…

 

Tool : What do you think? Should Art be appreciated “as it is”, for pleasure? Or should it be analyzed, to maybe trigger you own ideas? Is it utilitarian? What would it be bad?

 

“…comme une promenade dans un musée n’aura d’intérêt véritable pour un penseur que quand en aura d’un coup jailli une de ces idées qui aussitôt lui paraissent riches et susceptibles d’en engendrer d’autres précieuses”.

Thanks for reading!

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Benefits of annotating your books

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Wood pencils. 5B is my preferred grading. It’s gorgeous bold.

Annotating. What for?

  1. It’s easier to find back interesting ideas after a while, OK.
  2. It’s interesting to discover, if you reread the book, that the ideas you underlined before were maybe not “that” interesting now, and that you did not notice some greater ones in the middle. The book didn’t change. You did.
  3. Each annotation is like a micro time-capsule which someone (your kids? an unknown person?) will find one day in the future.
  4. Annotating shuts off the solemnity, putting instantly the book out of the wrong-way-up idea of collecting perfect objects, making the book just what it should be : a text container, a tank of ideas , and certainly not a “precious thing”. Putting some life into it.
  5. Linking some parts of the books with your experience, with other books.
  6. Finding the “big picture” – at least linked to your own life.

 

I have my own code. I circle a A, it’s an idea for an article. I slice a square, it means I have to find the book quoted here. Etc.

What about you?

 

Thanks for reading!

 

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Acceleration & Ways of laughing : Chronicle 14

Why are my friends mostly women? Because men always want to win. As a man, talking to a man always leads to competition. This is really boring…
And, of course, my female friends almost all say that they prefer to talk with… men. It’s the way the world goes, I suppose…

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Today I learned about the word “Culprit“, and in my mind there’s a confusion with “Guilty”. In French, the word is the same : coupable. It’s a weird feeling to discover two words in a language while you have just one in yours!

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A few days ago I saw a guy I know coming in the street. He didn’t see me, then, as I was parking my bike, he did the Store Front Escape. What I read in this “sudden interest” is “I don’t want to talk to this person”. So be it. Me neither maybe, voilà.

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There’s a Virilio simple dial : “Acceleration leads to accident”. What does that mean? When you examine this pattern, do you think about the guy who drives too fast, progress, or about the whole civilization?

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In this blog I claim to be a pecker , like a bird lacking of culture, casually (and randomly) finding microscopic ideas to share. This strange freedom, weaved with the uneasy but comforting idea that my-english-is-not-good-but-I-try-though… makes it what it is!

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There’s a seesaw (we call this in French un tape-cul : a hit-ass – makes sense?) I find in many authors or artists : it’s a swing between 1/ the anxiety of losing some time and 2/  go with the flow and do nothing special. Always interesting to see how people deal with that, and what maturity brings them (guess in which way)…

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We have this word for “shell”, in French : un coquillage, which seems more magic to me. Une coquille d’œuf : an eggshell. Une coquille d’escargot : a snail shell. What do you find on the shore? A shell or a shellfish? Shells, of course. I wonder if in English it’s “charged” like in French : a word full of the sea, the salty taste, the texture and the frame of shells… Maybe it is! But the word itself is delicious, right? Coquillage…

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Some French words in “age” (pronounce not “age”, but “aj”) are like dreaming in the air at the end of the word : nuage (cloud), sillage (the wake behind a boat)

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You’ll always read that other people “can’t really know you”. We are islands, etc. In fact, I’m sure that it’s not true. Some rare people are able and will “know” you (ha, like “I see you” in Avatar!), or a part of your personality. There’s nothing like someone who gets you. Immediately, love is around, or at least a kind of magic bond, intensity. And I think that one of the tragedies of life is to have someone who is able to see you… and you don’t realize it. You don’t listen…

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There’s this little trick between French and English about this phrase : “I miss you”. We say : “Tu me manques”, because this verb is used the other way round in France. It’s a little like “You miss to me”, or worse : “You lack to me”. I’m sorry, it’s uglily said, but it’s true! And I can’t stop plunging into a meditation about how language structures our reality. “I miss you” is very different, in fact, than “You now are lacking to me”… well… sort of. Just imagine that “miss” in French is the other way round. So sorry 🙂

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Sometimes you know someone very well, but you’re surprised to see this person with unknown people. There’s one thing to watch, then : the way she laughs in front of others. Countenance or composure laughing… where people hear joy, and where you hear timidity, hidden rushes, panic, a way to shut up, a given time to think about things to say and, her eyes constantly checking you, a need for help, support, hand in back, come next to me, I need you, friendship and deep bond reaffirmation. All this… in a laugh.

 

Thanks for reading!

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