Feeling the air of Waterloo & other oblique explorations…

Hey, explorer…

Choose a knowledge-field you don’t know at all, and begin to dig to find your gold. This is what you like to do, right?

Japanese cinema, French classical music, British painters of 19th Century, US Civil War – what else?

Voilà : you have your unknown territory ready. Your hungriness will do the rest. Yum!

You need help, right? A compass, a guide, a book, a web site, friends, a lecture… It’s easy to find some. Find a map. Draw your map.

What we often do is to see what’s essential. Kurosawa and Ozu for Japanese cinema. Ravel and Debussy for French musicians, etc. You read the most important books, and that’s OK. An afternoon on the web will help to find the list…

Here I propose some more oblique ways to do that.

  • Find documents against. People who dislike, or say the contrary of what it’s commonly said. I once read about the French Revolution : next to the great books I piled on my table, I put a book written by a Royalist, an historian whose motto was “Revolution : a wrong mess!”. He was a good writer, though, and I learned a lot from him – though it’s pretty rare to find this “music” in our times.
  • Explore little branches of the tree. After decades of exploration, I knew the great composers and their important works : Brahms, Bartok, Prokofiev and more. Then I spent years to explore the same field, but under the stars : Roussel, Martinu, Walton and Sibelius. And thanks to the previous “normal” exploration, I had so much pleasure!
  • Find other ways to explore :
  • Instead of reading history books about an era, try to read books written by witnesses. Instead of trying to find the big picture, choose one person, a detail. One painter’s life. Instead of reading, go to lectures, watch them on YouTube. Find the minor things, what’s considered failures, and study hows and whys…

  • Explore what’s difficult : Mahler instead of Beethoven. Avant-garde photography.
  • Explore what’s hard because documents are rare, or the field very small.
  • Explore what you think you dislike : Consider other doors. Baroque music. Swedish movies. History of Prussia. Try to see if you find surprise-gold.
  • Go on site. This is totally different. Feeling the air of Waterloo. Find Vermeer’s city. Watch the sky…
  • In between two fields. Instead of studying Portugal or the new America, study the boats, the travels, the movements, agreements, trades. Learn what happened between two territories : producers and movie makers, Napoleo and United Kingdom…

 

What territory will you find? Butterflies? African masks? Dante? Religions in India? Story of the city of Philadelphia? Bridges of Budapest?

Do you have other ideas to find doors, bridges, territories and maps?

Then, what vein of gold will you find? What doors, what ways? Will you wake up in the morning with this delicious urge : dig more, know more, learn more?

Thanks for reading!

 

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Instagram : genevievealicegarner

 

 

 

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Logan, Arthur and Motoko

I am a movie lover, un “cinéphile“. I read a lot about movies. I own thousands of DVDs and Blu-rays. I love Orson Welles, John Ford and Elia Kazan. I love Losey, Bergman and Miyazaki. I BUY movies. I’m able to spend a year to explore 1961 in cinema history (yes there’s a Wikipedia page for that). I’m able to watch all Tennessee Williams movies adaptations in a month, just for the extraordinary pleasure of… oh forget it.

But I download them too. A lot. I watch, and if I like I buy. I’m old school. I don’t have Netflix nor an Apple TV. I want the discs, the bonuses, the sleeves. Les galettes : the “epiphany cakes” (yesss we say that, for movie discs). Makes sense, right?

It’s August, so I found many American mainstream movies to download. Fast and Furious number 39 (or whatever), or Alien Covenant (I wanted to watch is again, because it’s a bad, wrong movie, but also because of Scott, Giger/Böcklin, the “two notes flute in the echo” music, and the stress before the shuttle explosion).

By the way, I wrote to the actress behind the voice of Mother, in Covenant. Great work!

I left 3 movies on the side, because I was sure it was shit.

Logan, King Arthur and Ghost in the Shell. All of them had bad trailers. Logan smelled “I want to end this character violently”. Arthur really smelled like duck-billed platypus shit. And watching Scarlett Johansson exploding a window 6541 times in slow motion on Facebook was enough to keep me away from it (talk about bad e-marketing -> another article).

All of them took me by surprise.

But beware : I’m NOT talking about Kitano’s Hana Bi or Lean’s Ryan’s Daughter (I can’t wait to find these in Blu-ray). Don’t even talk about Heaven’s Gate, Single Man or Fanny & Alexander (I have the Blu-rays, thank you). I’m writing here about mainstream movies, to eat with popcorn and have fun with.

Logan surprised me because it was more violent, tragic, or let’s say “less stupid” than some other X-Men I watched (I watched them all). I like these superheroes movies, but here I was surprised and wondered about the audience targeted by it. So what : Adult geeks? I don’t know, but I loved it. The Wolverine girl, Xavier in his chair, powerful but dying, the cross-to-X at the end, it awed me.

I was really ready to laugh sarcastically at Arthur. But Ritchie made Snatch and the Sherlocks, and I loved U.N.C.L.E., so I tried… And I found it brilliant! Smart and fast, funny at times (I LOVE when Ritchie plays with dialogs/possible scene, like when Sherlock Holmes will fight), and so powerful (ohhh Excalibur). A good evil character (hello Jude Law), a mage… A good one!

I will forgive everything to Jude Law since he played in My Blueberry Nights.

Ghost in the Shell climbed greatfully towards the spider-tank scene (I own the anime movie, and I needed to know what they’ll do with the tank). The face to face with mother ending crushed me. The sound is great. Kitano is perfect. Binoche is fantastic (strong, fragile, alive). What a great surprise!

Well, I’m thankful. I read today something like “Even if it’s bad, it’s OK if it’s made with the heart” – I don’t remember where : Gide or Valéry? All of them were made with some heart.

Then I wonder how to blog about Logan : what are and what could be other branches in the almost totally kryptonitelic ridiculous tree of Superhero Movies? About Arthur : what’s the drive in Ritchie : a casualness, a “I allow everything, shut up” energy? About Ghost in the Shell : how to make a robot alive? How to adapt a fucking Japanese cartoon with elegance? How to convince Scarlett Johannsson to play that?

 

After all this, you will ALWAYS need to clear your spirit from special effects, Excalibur’s devastation, jumping in an invisible electronic device, or fake claws. I suggest an Ingmar Bergman’s movie : Winter Light. Or just one quote of this movie instead :

“God does not speak because there is no God. You should learn how to love, instead of praying”.

Thanks for reading!

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Babette’s Feast, a Frenchization

In a remote 19th-century Danish village, two sisters lead a rigid life centered around their father, the local minister, and their church. They take in French refugee, Babette Hersant, who agrees to work as their servant. After winning the lottery, Babette wants to repay the sisters for their kindness and offers to cook a French meal for them and their friends on the 100th anniversary of their father’s birth. It proves to be an eye-opening experience for everyone.

As they say, Babette’s Feast is “still the gold standard of food movies”. I use it here because I find it’s a good example of… well… the reasons why people love the French – when they do 🙂

Babette is the perfect example of the Intruder/Revealer type. She disturbs a system, here a rigid grey life, with her “way of being”, which is here the love of food, et la gourmandise.

Nothing is the same after her…

Gourmandise is the French word for “love of good food”. I think you don’t have this word in English, which is maybe cultural (Mayflower spirit?). It’s like a positive, smiling way to talk about… greed. Yum!

On this pattern, there’s another movie, with Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp : Chocolat.

I agree : this spirit can be a bit disturbing for obedient Anglo-Saxons. Each time I’ve been in France with an American friend, this person was like amazed (in many ways : surprised, annoyed, afraid) about our freedom, our “not following the rules that much” ways, our casualness, our inefficiency too – and the food. The food, always, and again.

Here (like in other countries like Italy), c’est un Art de vivre, an Art of living. And we fight for that! Many of our cheeses are and will stay forbidden in America : not “safe” enough, not enough disinfected, sanitized…

Here I pity the French who live in America : they’re all missing… the cheese! And also, I will now search for “cultural differences movies”, where Anglo-Saxon’s culture irrigate our exhausting Frenchiness.

 

Tool : what from other country’s culture thing do you need in your job, in your life? What if you ask a Japanese expert about your company? What for? Where are the axis of progress?

Have a nice day!

OK, here’s a little Camembert to say goodbye.

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Elbowing the Audience by killing the Suspension of Disbelief

“Opera is when a guy gets stabbed in the back and,
instead of bleeding, he sings.”
R. Benchley

 

ONE

If you go see a theater play, you have to make a deal with yourself, even if you even don’t realize you do it  :

“I accept to believe that these people on the scene are real”

If you don’t, you’ll watch actors making as if, that’s weird, right?

This is not new, of course : Coleridge (an English philosopher) called it Suspension of disbelief :

“a willingness to suspend one’s critical faculties and believe the unbelievable; sacrifice of realism and logic for the sake of enjoyment.”

You watch Braveheart on TV. You need your good “willing suspension of disbelief”, and if you don’t, you will laugh all along : you’ll see Mel Gibson (Australian actor) running in a skirt, pretending to fight for Scotland, hahaha.

And in a magic act, “an audience is not expected to actually believe that a woman is cut in half or transforms into a gorilla in order to enjoy the performance.”. Now imagine the work you have to do to accept an opera! 🙂

OK, you got the concept.

TWO

Creators and critics are aware of that. Nathalie Sarraute, a French writer, wrote a book (The Age of Suspicion), where she says that the novels’ readers less and less believe in the author “I know all” invention, and therefore that the writers tend to depersonalize the characters. Readers are more and more also critics, they analyze their pleasure, and you have to be smart and inventive to catch’em back.

In fact, this phenomenon appeared in many Arts.

  • In theater, directors began to play with the old “suspension of disbelief” trick : keeping the lights on in the room, allowing characters to call out to the audience.
  • In novels, the “omniscient narrator” began to speak to the reader (about his doubts, or the way the story was told).
  • In movies, characters suddenly watched the spectator, talking to him (Cf Pierrot le Fou, Godard).

THREE

I found this idea in interviews of movies directors like Billy Wilder, Alfred Hitchcock and Brian de Palma. Their idea is the same, I would formulate it like that :

“I KNOW for sure that I want to make movies for an audience who is AWARE that it’s a movie. I don’t want to put them in a classical “dream mode”, but I want to play with the audience with the fact a movie is like a clock, a fake funny mechanism MADE FOR HIM, therefore I constantly ELBOW THE AUDIENCE with nods, tricks, implausible twists and turns. They have fun not because they believe it, they have fun because they know I’m here with the scriptwriter working for their entertaining intelligence – so there!”.

So what is played here is not “sacrifice of realism and logic for the sake of enjoyment” any more, like in the normal Suspension of Disbelief. It’s a weaving between entertainment AND logic and realism. Inside the audience, the spectator AND the critic are dancing tango, with a smile. Intelligence is summoned, not only the dreaming capacities…

TOOL :

Where would you use this? Advertising? Poetry? Marketing? What would be a private joke to an audience? What is to elbow you spectators, and how to? Why? If you succeed, what happens?

You can also read : Strangeization.

Thanks for reading!

 

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Instagram : __bodylanguage__

 

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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“And he heard how I laughed with you” : Chronicle 6

Happiness is a strange thing. Sometimes we forget to laugh, then we suddenly have someone who’s able to open a box. We laugh. It’s a strange and delicious laugh. It’s THIS box opening. A new sound. Something new. And we laugh.

As a French, I learnt at school that New was pronounced NIEW. Then I talked to Americans, all saying NOO. So now I’m proud to say : “Hey! That’s new!”. Correctly said (noo) and with the “no space between new and the “!”. I find SO interesting that we French are used to add a space here : “It’s new!” -> “C’est nouveau !”.

Today I watched this hippie movie, Hair, with my oldest daughter, and she and I loved it. Then we talked about the fact that last week we watched Forrest Gump. Like if we were studying the second part of the XXth Century of the United States of America, right?

I love this beginning, from Oklahoma to New York :

 

Imagine you live in America, and your street name is in Spanish, your city name is in Spanish and your school’s name is in Spanish. What does it mean? Well, OK, nothing.

I remember my own shock when I realized that San Francisco meant Saint François, and Los Angeles : Les Anges (The Angels, sorry).

I read that a wall between Mexico and the USA would be a little stupid, because Mexican immigrants mainly come by plane. Is that true? Can someone be THAT stupid? I need a lecture.

Tonight I watched a great documentary about one of your best photographer alive : William Eggleston. If you Google Image him you’ll (maybe) understand why I love him so much : he shows (with a fabulous sense of color) something intimate about the USA, he SHOWS something. And this with a “constantly random” attitude (kids, a light, a street, a store, a car), which I adore. I was watching him “hunting” images in this documentary, with a constant “awwweeee” in my mind. The eye of a photographer is something really special. I love that guy. Here are a few pictures :

 

To finish this chronicle here is a good picture I found of Facebook yesterday.

Don’t forget how you laughed. I won’t. Ever.

Have a nice day!

 

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Stalking Curses & Sisyphus’s like Loneliness : Chronicle 5

I already wrote a little article about this question : Why do people blog? Why do people post on Instagram? It was a long list of hypothesis, but at the end, I bet that people post to be loved. I read this week that the worse thing for depression is Instagram (because, as I guessed well, people often want to show to the world that they are “very happy, blessed by life and in love”, which makes the viewers jealous or at least a bit depressed because themselves are obviously NOT that happy, right?).

You click a hashtag, randomly, and you see billions of pictures. Why do people post on Instagram? The key word is “motivation”. Some take pictures and post them to :

  • Get followers
  • Share their work
  • Meet people with same interests
  • Indicate to others how happy and blessed they are
  • Show how interesting they are
  • Make people laugh
  • Show their “beauty”
  • Reveal beautiful places they visit
  • Indicate they are in couple, in love
  • Indicate they are sad, alone, or tired
  • Put a stalker in pain
  • Show their artistic talent
  • Show their project

Etc! One good question is :

When you post something somewhere, are you aware of your audience, or do you work only for yourself, your happiness?

I watched Paterson and I immediatly thought about another movie : Dead Zone : Christopher Walken is in coma for many years after a car accident. His wife remarry. Then he wakes up. His loneliness is then unbelievable (and the actor fantastic at it). It’s a world of ice. And he has a power to see the future…

Paterson (Adam Driver) is terrible alone too, but it’s VERY different. He has a beautiful young wife, a job (he’s a bus driver), some friends in a bar, and he writes poems. He’s quiet, modest in a modest life – he doesn’t talk much about his poems (though he continuously meets other people – a rapper, a little girl, a japanese man – interested in poetry). He writes in his bus, while he has lunch, in his basement. Nobody reads his poems. He sees struggling people around him (two young men lost with flirting, a colleague and his numerous family problems, a broken-hearted black man in the bar) and stays impassive and calm, benevolent. Idem with his girlfriend (who is a sweet dreamer, a dabbler artist). We all see he is not really connected, to anybody. He just goes on with his life, quietly putting words in his little booklet…

Walken and Driver are standing up. They are the loneliest characters I’ve seen ever (well, apart from Tennessee Williams’ plays). Both find something to do, though. They find their “mission”. The first one leads to drama (it’s from a Stephen King novel, after all). The second one is revealing a “way of being in the world” : being there without being very concerned (cf Inside Sidestepping) or affected. It talks about Sisyphus and about the Waldgänger, too…

It broke me heart, yesterday night, like a Chekhov or a Carver short story can do…

Slide, mortals, don’t bear down

 

Thanks for reading! Have a great week-end!

 

(I love this little dances of words too : Walken and Driver/Driver plays a bus driver/Paterson lives in Paterson, New Jersey/etc)