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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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!

 

A woman’s hat on the table – Behaviorism in literature

In a Hemingway short story, the only visual information we have of a couple talking is that she took off her hat and put it on the table. Though, you can almost SEE them when you read the text, because of what they say.

Question :

In a book, do you prefer to read

  1. “She was sad, and about to disconnect herself from reality”
  2. An inner monologue as if she had a microphone in her head
  3. A description of her movements, her mouth, her actions

…showing her disconnected sadness.

Well it’s the same for movies. Do you want to see someone act slowly, randomly and break something, or do you prefer a narrator explaining that “This day, she was bored, sad and electric”?

“Behaviorism is a school of psychology that studies that only behavior that can be observed or measured. It does not include the study of emotions or motives”.

Of course, there are behaviorist writers, who like to SHOW what’s happening instead of EXPLAIN the psychology of characters, as if they were a god.

Tool : What could YOU do about this tool, this pattern, in another field, in poetry, photography, marketing? Show or explain? Do you consider you audience as ignorants you have to tell everything to, or do you trust their mind, their intelligence?

she took off her hat and put it on the table – what does it mean?

Thanks for reading!

 

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Crime Novels are boring, Mr Whodidit, so what?

Crime Novels are boring, because there’s a murder or many murders (boring), a policeman or an investigator (boring), and at the end, we’re told who did it (boring).

There’s a trick I wrote about : read the end. Now you know Mr Whodidit, then read the book normally, and have fun with all the tricks the author uses to mislead you.

Well, writers have many levers to move, and they do it. Why? To debore the bored reader, right?

  • Show who did it at the beginning (Columbo)
  • Two investigators or more
  • More violence, or comedy
  • Change rhythm : get slow, or hysterical
  • Weird detective (Twin Peaks)
  • More scientific, political, etc (find a field)
  • Research in a foreign place or country
  • Trick (Silence of the Lambs : a killer helps to find a killer, haha)
  • More estheticism, more complexity (Blow Up)
  • Disappearance of an element (no body, no murder, no detective, no solution, etc)

Each attempts seems boring to me, but sometimes is works, Okeyyy. That’s the purpose (and the dial of this article) in poetry, advertising, photography, writing, etc :

How do you recover a bored audience?

Thanks for reading!

JP

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Half a teaspoon of a phoneysham Russian eloping : Chronicle 7

Today I don’t work, I have a “disciplinary layoff”. This is the second time in a few months, which means I’ll probably lose my job before the end of the year.

So today I read my big Nabokov book on my balcony, like 1200 pages of classes about literature. I read a big part about his compatriot Dostoyevsky, an authors he hates for is “sentimentality” (though he deeply studied his work).

As he says, disliking a book can be a great thing – one of the advantages is to put your brain in movement, trying to find what’s wrong, what it “could be”, etc. I have to admit that you need to have that happy “trait” in front of Art : dissection, study, analyze.

Nabokov never says he hates Dostoyevsky, he says his own position is “curious and uncomfortable” (incommode). He’s fascinated… and wrote lectures about his work.

What Nabokov calls sentimentality is the tendency, in novels, to talk about nervous imbeciles, monotonous overdramatic characters and other degeneration weavers.

Drama!

 

So imagine now : your marriage exploded and you’re alone, or the person you love turns away from you, or you’re going to lose your job. Some days, the usual injunctions (“Find happiness inside you”, “Move forward”) don’t work very well : it’s not a good reason to commit suicide! After all, you are healthy, right, for now?

Every woman has a “last man” – and it works the other way round! Just watch around you… That’s for another article, though…

There’s a quiet grey path you are tempted to walk on, some days. You don’t kill yourself but you gather information about it. You drink a little too much. You overthink like an idiot. Phoneysham, it is! It’s your cheap depression day. Your burden is there, but you have probably a few happy days left in front of you.

Try these if you want more about this :

  • Just wait, before you act.
  • Sometimes, insisting makes things worse.
  • Watch how you’re stuck, watch it closely.

 

So again, today I stood up because I have found words related to Art telling things about my questions, and because I write here about that. Nabokov is very intelligent and very sweet : you read his class with a big smile (see?). You clearly own up there’s no murder nor alcoholism, no incest or no gothic disaster in your life (at least, for now). Let’s call this grey path an oblique way to give a kick to the pool bottom. Eloping moods towards the surface!

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As I was reading, a maybug, a cockchafer landed on my shoulder. Ohhhh! I said hello, he walked along my arm towards my hand, then he flew away. Yes it’s harmless. We call this little brown jewel : Un hanneton.

 

OK, now listen to this :

And here’s now a little song by Eden Ahbez

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=339UrDjHDio

There was a boy
A very strange enchanted boy
They say he wandered very far, very far
Over land and sea
A little shy and sad of eye
But very wise was he

And then one day
A magic day he passed my way
And while we spoke of many things
Fools and kings
This he said to me
“The greatest thing you’ll ever learn
Is just to love and be loved in return”

Voilà !

 

The sadness of Chekhovian heroins is ours

Anton Chekhov wrote a few plays, and hundreds of short stories.

When you read him, the “archetype” of the Chekhovian Heroin begins to appear in your head.

She’s a woman. She’s sensitive. She dreams of another life. She’s a bit sad.

Here are three examples.

A stormy day, a man, with drops of water in his beard, says a declaration of love to a young woman. She ignores him. Years later, they both live alone. They are still in contact. She cries on her lost life, the time flowing, the too lates. (A Lady’s Story)

A butterfly-minded spouse is unable to see the value and the kindness of her husband, and realizes it too late. (The Grasshopper)

A young woman takes on the ideas and habits of every man she loves. People laugh at her, and at the end she is lost and alone. (The Darling)

There’s a lot to learn by reading Chekhov : We all do what we can. We fail because we’re afraid, or we think we know. Life is short and we should dare more. And we all are a little stupid, and ridiculous…

Most of his short stories are free on the web. You’ll also find many “Selected Short Stories” in book. I assure you : it’s better than many Self-Help books!

Thanks for reading!

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Instagram : bodylanguage

 

 

 

3 Novels about Waiting for the Enemy

Dino Buzzati The Tartar Steppe (Italy 1940)

Julien Gracq The Opposing Shore (France 1951)

Ernst Jünger On the Marble Cliffs (Germany 1939)

I won’t do it here in my little blog, but if you dare, it’s a great thing to study. Each novel shows people (in a fortress for the two first), waiting for an enemy, and invisible and frightening danger. Each novel is great! This is a triple door to many questions :

  • What does the author want to say? Is it about life (we fear things, we wait for something)?, politics (Jünger about the nazis?)? You just read and find your interpretation. And it’s maybe not what you think!
  • What can we do against a rising peril? Flee? Resist? Wait? Be impassible? What else?
  • What if this danger was not real, invented (by who? You? Someone else? What for?)? Maybe that “attack” will never occur? Maybe it will happen JUST because you triggered it with your army? What about “You get what you expect”?
  • Where and why should you invent an enemy? To regroup? To get stronger? To keep yourself busy?

Have fun! Thanks for reading!

#rain #herecomestherainagain #bw