The Persian Letters Tool

Nestor Almendros is a great cinematographer, and in a documentary I just watch about this “craft” (men who take care of light in movies), he says mischievously that most of great cinematographers in cinema come from other countries – which is true!

The need to have a fresh eye…

Which made me think about one book : Persian Letters, by Montesquieu, recounting the experiences of two Persian noblemen, Usbek and Rica, who are traveling through France.

Like when one says that one good part of the philosopher’s job is to not understand.

The capacity to see things “as they are” (and not for granted) is a strange funny power, all society can become a carnival, and what is human becomes singular, crazy, mechanical, dumb, and all conventions become hilarious and sinister, unbearable, unbelievable!

So this book, France seen by two Persians, is disconcerting, on purpose. You surprise people with what they are, what they do. You show them that all the fabric of their lives is relative…

To conclude, let’s think about this : The Persian Letters was written by… a French, of course, who must have “this” state of mind :

“Taken for granted” questioning

If you have that, you have a great tool, but it’ll put you on an island. So what?

Have a nice day!

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

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

Well, what the heck is this double opposition?

I don’t know.

Many movies are based on Evil vs Good, right?

Let’s make a geometric transposition : Evil towards Chaos, and Good towards Order. Okey?

In a crime novel, the murder brings chaos in the apparatus which is the good society of men. The detective brings back order, thanks mister.

It seems simple, but I thus and therefore automatically choose the contrary.

Order can be Evil. 1984 the book. Or Nazis perfect aligned armies. More : in the new Star Wars, the bad guys are named the First Order…

  1. I take pliers, I pinch “Order” and I pin in on a tree. Order is straight lines, obedience, conservative, religion, highways, mainstream, social pressure, black and white, perfectly mown lawns, rules.
  2. I take my two fingers and I grab “Chaos”, where I find colors, invention, freedom, progress in Art, little mountain paths, movements, punk happy gardens.

 

Well, let’s go on. Imagine a cross-diagram : left-right for evil good, and up-down for order-chaos.

Combine :

  1. Evil Chaos : Hell, The Battle of Stalingrad. Revolutions.
  2. Evil Order : 1984 Society, Fascism.
  3. Good Chaos : Picasso, Stravinsky : creativity, progress. Revolutions.
  4. Good Order : “The idea of Norway” – justice, rightful, legitimate.

 

What else? What do you think? Where does that go?

Everything immoderate is negative… right? Is it only a question of balance?
Paul Valéry, who is a wise man, says that in a society ruled by order, things happen :

  • What is sensitive in men can not always be precise (not everything can be measured and put in “order”).
  • Order is a burden to people. They have to dream, and invent. Under quietness of order, some brains shake themselves, hopes bloom…

 

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

Dispositifa thoroughly heterogeneous ensemble consisting of discourses, institutions, architectural forms, regulatory decisions, laws, administrative measures, scientific statements, philosophical, moral and philanthropic propositions–in short, the said as much as the unsaid. Such are the elements of the apparatus. The apparatus itself is the system of relations that can be established between these elements.

“Further expanding the already large class of Foucauldian apparatuses, I shall call an apparatus literally anything that has in some way the capacity to capture, orient, determine, intercept, model, control, or secure the gestures, behaviors, opinions, or discourses of living beings. Not only, therefore, prisons, madhouses, the panopticon, schools, confession, factories, disciplines, judicial measures, and so forth (whose connection with power is in a certain sense evident), but also the pen, writing, literature, philosophy, agriculture, cigarettes, navigation, computers, cellular telephones and—why not—language itself, which is perhaps the most ancient of apparatuses—one in which thousands and thousands of years ago a primate inadvertently let himself be captured, probably without realizing the consequences that he was about to face.” (Agamben)

 

 

Oh I don’t care what comes tomorrow
We can face it together
The way…

 

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“Like love, grief is non negotiable…”

Inexpressible is the trauma following a lover’s suicide, or a the loss of a child. There’s no real advice for grief, and a therapy is maybe necessary.

Here’s what I know :

  • Your ally is time. It doesn’t heal anything, but pain will decrease. Years…
  • You have the right to be in despair, don’t listen to people who want you to stop crying.
  • Decide to study deeply a big culture area, XIXth century classical music or the life of Louis XIV, history of Japan or Italian Renaissance. Study.
  • Exploring Art is often helping.
  • Write to this person on paper, then invent a little ceremony where you’ll burn the letter. Do it each time there’s a “too much”, an overflow of.
  • Find a wounded friend. Support each other like wounded slowalking soldiers : talk.
  • Pills can be necessary, but I read many authors who say that pain has to open its windows, one day or another.
  • Find books, about the “now”, or guilt, philosophy or self help : find your good books.
  • “The rose is without why. It blossoms because it blossoms”. You’ll be exhausted thinking about whys, though.

 

What doesn’t work : travel, drink.

“Like love, grief is non negotiable…”

I just found this text from Nick Cave (his son fell from a cliff and died at 15) about Love & Grief :

 

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I have experienced the death of my father, my sister, and my first love in the past few years and feel that I have some communication with them, mostly through dreams. They are helping me. Are you and Susie feeling that your son Arthur is with you and communicating in some way?

Cynthia, Shelburne Falls, VT, USA

Dear Cynthia,

This is a very beautiful question and I am grateful that you have asked it. It seems to me, that if we love, we grieve. That’s the deal. That’s the pact. Grief and love are forever intertwined. Grief is the terrible reminder of the depths of our love and, like love, grief is non-negotiable. There is a vastness to grief that overwhelms our minuscule selves. We are tiny, trembling clusters of atoms subsumed within grief’s awesome presence. It occupies the core of our being and extends through our fingers to the limits of the universe. Within that whirling gyre all manner of madnesses exist; ghosts and spirits and dream visitations, and everything else that we, in our anguish, will into existence. These are precious gifts that are as valid and as real as we need them to be. They are the spirit guides that lead us out of the darkness.

I feel the presence of my son, all around, but he may not be there. I hear him talk to me, parent me, guide me, though he may not be there. He visits Susie in her sleep regularly, speaks to her, comforts her, but he may not be there. Dread grief trails bright phantoms in its wake. These spirits are ideas, essentially. They are our stunned imaginations reawakening after the calamity. Like ideas, these spirits speak of possibility. Follow your ideas, because on the other side of the idea is change and growth and redemption. Create your spirits. Call to them. Will them alive. Speak to them. It is their impossible and ghostly hands that draw us back to the world from which we were jettisoned; better now and unimaginably changed.

With love, Nick.

https://www.theredhandfiles.com/communication-dream-feeling/

What is Truchement?

I read in a Paul Valéry’s book about Hals (a painter) talking to Descartes (a philosopher) – he made his portrait, which is very famous.

Valéry writes :

J’ignore d’ailleurs si les deux hommes pouvaient s’entendre l’un l’autre sans truchement

I don’t know if the two men could understand each other without… truchement.

 

Ah ah! What’s that word?

Truchement can be : a mean of expression (for example two persons talking to each other with… drawings), a trick, or an intervention or a middle-man (maybe, simple, a translator).

I don’t know exactly why Hals and Descartes would need that. Maybe because of the language (one is French, the other one is Dutch – from Holland). I read a little and found that Hals didn’t agree with Descartes, who maybe said : “the imagination as inferior to the intellect”. I also know that Hals gave Descartes a certain appearance in his portrait, which makes people think…

I’ll find out, probably, but I loved to read the word Truchement – which French people know, I think, but don’t use daily…

I love the way that two strong personalities couldn’t really understand each other, or like each other, or get along, BUT feel the need to find a mean to have a conversation in spite of them, anyway…

Why would they need to get along? To work together? Common interests? To have fun with their antagonistic minds? How do these two guys will invent a way to have a conversation with a truchement and without climbing into disagreement?

How does is work in the Art of Diplomacy? What are the means between representatives of two enemy countries? What are the skills needed? Psychology? History? Slowness? Written words? Handshakes? Win/Win knacks?

OK, that was my Truchement overthinking…

 

Have a nice day!

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When you insist until you fail… on purpose.

“When you insist until you fail… on purpose” is a pattern everybody knows and everybody tried one day, right?

For Headlong rush or forging ahead, in French we say : “La fuite en avant” (an escape forward).

Sometimes one does it oneself, but is it on purpose and fully aware – as a strategy, or in a nihilistic despair suicide-like rush?

In other times, we can be part of it, for instance when you work for a company which makes bad decisions in a row :

Incompetence or Cruelty?

There’s these ideas swirling in “forging ahead” : going fast, decide quickly, being a bit crazy, vanity and vainglory, last brightness, grab what we can, or maybe go ahead, destroy what we can, and bury yourself in the end. Who knows?

In dictionaries I found to careen, which seems to be a bit crazy, right? To throw oneself into the fray (if the fray is a fight, why is there another word? Is a fray a messy fight?). “Fling yourself” sounds similar.

All these sound risky and breaknecky… but I titled my article “When insisting…”. Therefore I’d like to talk about a quieter way of forging ahead, a headlong quiet insisting daily rush…

I just found the word “Adamant”, which is splendid! Maybe because in French “Un Diamant” is a Diamond. Your adamant sounds to me like “adamond” – see?

I also found that you add “on” after insist : to insist on, stubbornly, right? Leads me to “pigheadedly” (waowwww!).

This is really funny to discover these words… In French we also say this. Entêté (could be “enheaded”, or têtu comme une mule…

Calmly insisting… until I fail. Makes me think about self sabotage (but “Why would you do that??”), or nihilism.

Sometimes it’s the only way, the only path to walk on, so… you go! Sacrifice? Maybe. Suicide? Maybe. Dark fun? Why not? Manipulation? Ohhhhh… No. To provoke, to trigger an answer, to show a door or a window? Well…

When do we do that? When do we witness that? What to do, then?

Overthinking, I know.

Thanks for reading!

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The Inside Idea of North

Had a good laugh this morning, having coffee on the bed and imagining a tropical happy flowery trumpets ambiance…

Which would be like being in hell, right?

I can’t talk much before my coffee, I don’t want a crazy happy dog (who wanna jog with me) at breakfast, and I don’t want a Cuban/Mexican brass band near my bed…

I need quietness – maybe a little Satie piano music if you want. I’m happy to see the cat lounging on the bed, and a few triangles of sun on the wooden floor. Basking silence…

 

I live in the North of France, it’s 34°F this morning, with a perfect cold wintery sun outside leaving bright still frames everywhere in the room. I talked yesterday with a guy who lived a few years in the South of France, who told me he was depressed by the solid blue skyed “great weather” of Nice or Toulouse : “Give me passing clouds, mist, showers and snow, give me low angle lights and pale blue skies…”.

It’s relative, because North of France is the very South of Norway, for example, right? Do people in North California have the same feeling, the “comfort of being from the North” (even if the State is only 170 years old)? Then, what about Oregon? what’s the North, for Morocco or Tunisia?

Is Autumn comforting to you? Like “Ahhh we’re home!”? Do you prefer Sibelius (Finland) or Villa Lobos (Brazil)? Cat or Dog? North or South? Have a walk in a forest, or party in Cuban bar?

Have a nice sunday!

BooksTeaCat, SportsBeerDog & their Social Interactions

 

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