How to to put a cat among pigeons, in classical music, Star Wars and other birds

Reading interviews of Valery Gergiev, a famous conductor, who plays the best orchestras of the world (this position is always interesting : these guys are intense, constantly trying to improve things, and they work with the best musicians – I love their problematics).

He says that each time big orchestras have to play classical classics, like symphonies of Beethoven, he tries different little things, to prevent the bore, to discover things, etc.

This can be pushed very far – the question of interpretation is fascinating. He tells that one day Leonard Bernstein were in Russia in front of young people, an orchestra made of beginners. And it was amazing because he tried many things with them, for example in the pace, for the reasons you are pleased to imagine (to keep the team focused, to try things, to push limits, to impress, to experiment?). Swell!

Turning dials and pulling levers, that’s interesting, and it’s two aspects :

  1. Which lever will you pull or push? Intensity? Complexity? Speed?
  2. How much will you do that? Slightly or risky? Too far? Too shy?

The infinite pleasure of classical music has many sources, but one of them is to compare interpretations. Take Beethoven : gorgeous as Karajan, as one man as Fürtwangler, feline as Kleiber, slow, transparent, baroque?

I’m interested here in this pattern : When something is “too well known” and you have to put the cat among the pigeons.

– we say in French : to throw a cobblestone in the pond, or to shake the coconut tree, does it make sense?

In big mainstream movies like Star Wars or Marvel, you feel they… are aware the problem too.

If you want to maintain something (interest thus money), you have to “increase something”, each time.

  1. A reboot : you redo it (three times for Spiderman)
  2. More vulgarity, peepooing the worst : Deadpool
  3. Bigger : Avengers
  4. Going wildly exuberant : Thor Ragnarok

Relaunching Star Wars was a good source of fun. Read the forums’ comments. The new films are “too respectuous” and “too shy”, or in the last one “too far from the basis”.

Whatever you do, you’ll find millions haters. Creators probably don’t care.

They try things, and that’s fun.

In the last one (The Last Jedi), they did something very smart. Instead of being funnier, or bigger, or wilder, they just sewed maturity in the middle of this mess. They constantly say in the movie : “Hey, fantard, don’t be so serious!”.

Therefore the key of the movie became Luke throwing the saber over his shoulder. Smart move, Luke, thank youuuu!

You can also read :

A Matter of Levers

“Reorganizing from the Night” : Comparing Versions in Classical Music

A little pattern in Star Wars VIII The Last Jedi (Spoilers!)

Thanks for reading!

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“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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Artists Unawareness & Prolificity

The single idea of “How we all create” and invent in art is fascinating. It’s a territory, where we can discuss about genius, work, inspiration, ideas, seeds, growing, building, speed, movements, failure, discoveries and bliss.

I could invent a whole blog about this – but it seems I like my “constantly random” thing. My French Toolbox is not a blog about this or that, but a state of mind…

I just read a Simenon interview (he’s a Belgian writer) who talks about “states” he crosses when he’s about to write a novel. He says that the story and the characters grows and simmers in himself for days, weeks, until he can’t restrain anymore and has to write.

Then he has to stay in that state for days, without interruption. He says that he has to be the more empty possible. Not thinking. As if he had to “receive” the story, without using his intelligence.

Simenon is considered as a master of crime novels. He wrote almost 200 books, and was said to be able to write 60-80 pages a day.

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

Well, prolific artists (like Picasso or Victor Hugo) are maybe linked to this fast-non-thinking process, a trance. I have also often seen the other side : where “inspiration” is like a necessary wind which have to be used, criticized, canalized and judged during the whole process of creation. The critic inside the writing poet, says Baudelaire…

Also, we all confusedly know something else : there can be no start, in creativity, without a little burst, a little rush of EMOTION.

Thanks for reading!

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Herb List / Todd Hido

The “Triangle Words Expansion” method for creative writing

When you blog on WordPress, you have charts where you can see the number of visitors and what pages, what articles they visited. It’s funny because since a few days it’s very… like telling the story of who visited me : the visited pages draw something – and I ofter re-discover articles I forgot I wrote!

It linked some writings together, giving a sense into the form of structure, and I thought about Roussel and my Triangle Words Expansion method.

I know this technique from Raymond Roussel, a French writer. It’s awfully simple : Choose 3 words and draw a triangle – draw links from each word with all you need to use – cut them in pieces, use linked words, etc, until you get a light-bulb over your head, a seed, a story-idea.

OK. The method is simple : catch a book a magazine a dictionary, choose three words. These words must be a bit interesting, and apart from each other (if you choose farm, cow and horse, you won’t go very far).

Then use whatever you want to extend/expand your field.

One day I wrote a short story about a bottle in space, but… whatever.

I just did it and found “reminiscent“, “domesticate” and “solace“.

From this, staying in English, you cut words to find these : rem, scent, mini, dome, cat, tick, mess, solo, ace, solar or shoelace…

Tick gives clock, time, parasite, insect, disease. Dome gives glass (perfect for sun). When I’m stuck I use French : mess gives “messe” (a mass, which gives me religion and heaviness, right). Ace give me “carte” (a map, or a card to play).

 

I don’t have a story yet, but I know there’s a woman alone living in the future, under a glass dome, with a cat named Ola. She’s praying when she sees something frightening through (or on) the dome. She will need to escape (needs a map), and outside will be captured and her hands tied : all what she saw was fake, an illusion to make her out.

Hmmm. Any Sci-Fi writer around? I’ll do better next time, OK?

Thanks for reading!

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Summons to Reflexivity & Technics of Euphemization : Chronicle 38

One should from time to time re-study Yin & Yang. How they’re linked. How it passes from one to another. How they act & work together. How one prepares the other one. How we need both.

—————-

When someone rivals with you, but doesn’t understand what you’re doing really.

—————-

You have 1/ academics, the mainstream thing, then you have 2/ a revolutionary group, a powerful will to progress against it, you often don’t realize there are already 3/ people in the next phase, preparing in silence the next movement.

—————-

Bringing face to face, confronting two things :

  1. A tendency, a disposition, a propensity, something ready
  2. A situation, a place, a moment

(is the 2 provoked or prepared by the 1?)

—————-

“To make today what’s been done in the past“. How, why, what for? You have two hours.

—————-

We don’t know really what we’re doing.

—————-

What could be a trick to tell something… without telling it?

(technics of euphemization)

—————-

One danger for thinkers : the stiffening of categories. When you begin to think in non-movable boxes, the “labeling disease”. When you’re “sure”, you stop flows and possibilities.

—————-

A tendency to connect things.

—————-

The right to be disappointed by someone, a father a sister a lover or anyone.

—————-

“To remember is to imagine” is an obsession of Siri Hustvedt.

—————-

When you don’t find your words, WALK.

—————-

Freud says that dreams protect your sleep. It gets your brain busy in the meantime.

—————-

When you have a idea and you hunt it down thanks to the words. It’s a lonely process, or a conversation process.

—————-

I read somewhere that the beginning of civilization is not “family”, but “face to face conversation”.

—————-

When you neglect to call a decision into question.

—————-

Incitement without goal

 

Thanks for reading! Have a great day!

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Muses are many & Men with no imagination : Chronicle 35

Your faculty to imagine from incomplete datas

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“Let us leave pretty women to men with no imagination.”
Marcel Proust

zoid

Muses are many

They don’t talk to each other
They eventually dance together
Without a word – always.

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Life as responses to rows of random events

zoid

…inharmonies intentionnelles

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Faire feu de tout bois. Make fire with all woods, it’s the French way to say “Fire on all cylinders”.
(It’s funny to notice we talk about making a fire, versus… what? Going faster?)

Nietzsche said : “One must have chaos in oneself to give birth to a dancing star”.

– Different ways of saying that you blogger, like me, use EVERYTHING around to get ideas and texts. Everything.

Even a trap, a loss, a paradox, a mistake, everything.

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Every “warrior”, one by one, could die of/in his war. Even Ayrton Senna.

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“What you seek is seeking you”
Rumi

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A blog is also a reminder

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“Happiness is beneficial for the body, but it is grief that develops the powers of the mind.”
Marcel Proust

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Take your broken heart. Make it into art.
Carrie Fischer

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The naivety of thinking Art as a happy meeting of a subject and a talent
The fear of the shortest paths…

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Peter Gabriel in an interview : “It’s a different sensibility. Most bands begin, you know, playing together, and then find writing. We wanted to write, and we found playing”.

Heyy that’s a subject for an article, right? OK I’m on it.

zoid

Did Rumi write this ? :

“The one who seeks a flawless brother stays without a brother”

Thanks for reading!

JP

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Photo : Tamas Dezso