The Plague of Traveling Horribilulum Types

Nahhh don’t worry, I’m not like that. Moreover I don’t care : I don’t travel, haha. I never took a plane! I know it’s sad. I will visit. One day.

OK now I put the

<Sarcasm Mode ON> :

When you travel you meet Types. Today let’s forget local idiots and focus on travelers.

  • Drivers don’t understand their motors are noisyboring and carry the possibility of accidents and consecutive deaths or unpleasant hospital sojourns
  • Photographers are worrying they have to find their frame and consecutively they never see anything – plus they bore friends and family in their living room when they’re back in endless photographic messexhibitions
  • Selfies idiots are just selfies idiots – OK put “I’m in Italy” on Facebook to say you’re happy there
  • Ignorants ignore history of the place they visit – it’s just “cool”
  • Mainstream tourists are horrible they wanna climb the Eiffel Tower but don’t know why it’s here – they see the Taj Mahal but ignore there are other great places in this city
  • Bus Tourists cattling in groups to see what “has to be seen” – take a pic!
  • Other types I’ll add later. You have any ideas?

<Sarcasm Mode OFF>

 

Nahh I love you, fellow travelers. You’re NOT like these, after all, right?

I don’t travel. But I know Paris a little. I have been rue Legendre (c’est aux Batignolles), completely ignoring that Manet lived there, in the same street, and met his friends in cafés around. Verlaine and Sisley lived Rue Nollet! And these friends talking about painting was made by Bazille rue de la Condamine. Well, I had a pizza here, once. Oh. My.

Next time I’ll sit on a bench near the church, at night, and talk with ghosts of Manet and his friend Baudelaire.

Stupid tourist me.

https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Groupe_des_Batignolles

https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quartier_des_Batignolles

 

Have a nice day!

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Kupka, Czech painter

From March to July 2018, there’s an exhibition of Kupka‘s work in Le Grand Palais, in Paris. This place is maybe the perfect place if you want to… emerge from the tube and show the city to someone who never saw Paris before… It’s near Le Louvre, near La Seine, Place de la Concorde, the park of Les Tuileries… Something like :

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OK.

I didn’t know anything about Kupka before this exhibition. He’s one of the guys who carried painting towards abstraction.

There’s something to explore here, which is how painters went to cubism ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cubism ), then to Orphism ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orphism_(art) ), which is cubism with more curves and more colors.

These guys were explorers!

I let you read about them if you want. I just wanted to show you the gorgeous paintings he made.

Hmmm what is Orphism? OK another article.

Have a nice day!

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“Get out of your dream!” as a modernity

These two paintings were made the same year, 1863. The first one (The Birth of Venus, by Cabanel) was a huge success and was bought by the Emperor Napoléon III. The second one (Olympia, by Manet) was a huge shock and scandal.

It’s a perfect example of the confrontation between classic and modern…

 

Manet is often called “The first modernist painter”. I’ll talk in another article about this painting, but let’s be quick : there are at least two transgressions here.

  1. Venus is a symbol, she’s lying on a rock with a very calculated posture, surrounded with pretty cherubs, awwwwe. Innocent as possible. He body is perfectly painted, “as it should be done”, with glazing light…
  2. Olympia is a hooker, someone brought flowers – a client, who is obviously… you. She stares at you, right? Manet, who perfectly knows how to paint, deliberately paints her not in a dream, but like in reality. She’s a bit pale, and wears slippers!

Wikipedia :

The painting deviates from the academic canon in its style, characterized by broad, quick brushstrokes, studio lighting that eliminates mid-tones, large color surfaces and shallow depth. Unlike the smooth idealized nude of Alexandre Cabanel’s La naissance de Vénus, also painted in 1863, Olympia is a real woman whose nakedness is emphasized by the harsh lighting. The canvas alone is 51.4 x 74.8 inches, which is rather large for this genre-style painting. Most paintings that were this size depicted historical or mythological events, so the size of the work, among other factors, caused surprise. Finally, Olympia is fairly thin by the artistic standards of the time and her relatively undeveloped body is more girlish than womanly.

(…both are in the Musée d’Orsay, in Paris. If you want to visit the city one day…)

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In this article, I watch the second transgression. From him, we begin to really SEE the brush strokes. A painting like this invites you to THINK instead just feeling happy because it’s beautiful.

Look at the chairs and the characters in the front of the Tuileries park in Paris. They are normal. But the trees and the crowd are just… stains.

He opened the way to impressionism

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“What I seek before all else in a painting is a man, not a painting.”
Emile Zola

 

Hitchcock and Wilder, as movie makers, always said that they don’t want to push the audience in a dream, but invent stories or events strange enough to make the audience AWARE it’s a film, to have fun with them. Hitchcock always appears in his films, which is an example.

Brian de Palma (cinema) works like Brecht (theater) about distancing effects, things (like a split screen) which will make break the cinema-dream to put you out and make you think.

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

 

Tool :

Yes it’s a tool, useful for today. Whatever your field, how can you do to use it? Is “Making people aware of the form” modernity? What are the other criterions?

In a post-modern era, or if your audience IS aware, what happens? You use irony, geeky references? How does it work? How can it be boring? How does it fail?

Hmmm. Sorry I have to stop and go to bed.

 

Thank you for reading!

 

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La Dérive is the French “drift”

You’ll probably smile with the concept of “Dérive” (Drift) – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dérive – a “revolutionary strategy” invented by French guys in the fifties :

It is an unplanned journey through a landscape, usually urban, in which participants drop their everyday relations and “let themselves be drawn by the attractions of the terrain and the encounters they find there”“.

They talk about “studying the terrain”, “emotional disorientation”, “potential creation of situations”.

Well, you don’t need a theory to wander in a city, right? But it means something though :

  1. You have to walk – let the car somewhere, because a car means obedience : follow roads and rules and traffic lights.
  2. You have to be proactive. La Dérive is a constant decision. It’s not to wander. Your antennas are opened, you watch, walk, decide, take oblique paths, little streets, underground passages.
  3. You can study the city (psychogeography), or make pictures, of look for inspiration, miss/mister poet!
  4. As situationnists say, you may be ready for situations. Talk with an old lady on a bench. Question an antique dealer. Buy a splendid old book/painting…

Of course, I think of America. This country (and its cities) is not that old, and it’s so big that many Europeans feel lost in the USA, from Lost Angeles to the smallest cities. It’s all made for cars! How to wander in any city when you don’t have an 13th Century church to visit, and old streets like in Genova, Budapest or Edimburg?…

Without the possibility of drifing La Dérive, we old continent inhabitants are a bit frustrated.

This led me to Le Flâneurhttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flâneur – “from the French noun flâneur, means “stroller”, “lounger”, “saunterer”, or “loafer”.”. Which one is correct?

It’s not about onlooking, gawking, tourisming. These guys are like zombies, right? They follow.

No : Le Flâneur decides to lose time. It’s about curiosity. Decisions. Parks and arcades, moving along with a camera, or a notebook and a pen. It’s intelligence and focusing, freedom and disobedience (of following roads), having an own rhythm. It helps you to think. “A process of navigating erudition” (Taleb). It’s the opposite of tourism.

We French like “to have a mind to our own”, to oppose this “form of decadence”, against effective time, money, shopping and other capitalist activities.

La Place Furstenberg is a very quiet place in Saint-Germain des Prés. Like “out of time”. Delacroix worked here. It’s the last scene of Martin Scorcese’s Age of Innocence. It’s in the core of Paris, lost in a middle of small streets… In these streets, you can almost breathe the long history of the city. And there’s no way you can park your car there!

Walk. Walk along little sinuous Middle Age streets. You’ll maybe hear echoes of the French Revolution, oui oui!

“Ah, ça ira, ça ira, ça ira!”. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ça_Ira

When you are in Paris with someone, do the Furstenberg test. It’s not the Eiffel tower, there’s nothing really to watch. It’s just a mood, out of cars and tourists. Watch your guest, that’s all.

Shopping, stopping, asking where to go now, watching? What did he do?

Tool :

What is La Dérive in other places, in creativity, writing, in life? How (and what) to disobey to find inspiration? How to change gear (from car to feet)? What for? Have you thought about what to change (lever) or stop (button) or watch (dial) to change your point of view and become more aware of what’s happening? Do you need to create “situations”, new layouts to invent inventing invention?

Thanks for reading!

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“Oh Fabiola!” – Tremendous Love & Speechless Shock are two Stendhal’s Syndromes

Stendhal was a French writer (1783-1842 – let’s say it was the time of Napoleon). He wrote great novels, but I want to talk today about two stendhalian concepts : Cristallization and what we call the Stendhal Syndrome.

The Stendhal Syndrome happens when a human being becomes speechless in front of too much beauty : overcome, overwhelmed by emotion in front, for example, of Art.

Wikipedia : The staff at Florence’s Santa Maria Nuova hospital are accustomed to dealing with tourists suffering from dizzy spells and disorientation after admiring the statue of David, the masterpieces of the Uffizi Gallery and other treasures of the Tuscan city.

There is a Paris Syndrome too, of course, mostly happening to Japanese visitors, crushed by the City and its beauties (but also by the differences they find between their “idealized” vision of France and the reality). Yes, it’s like a “mega culture shock”. There’s a book (“Les Fous de l’Inde”) about a similar shock for India, felt by people from the whole Occident. A oceanic feeling leading to craziness. Embassies know this very well : they take care of people, and put them in planes to go back to normal life.

It’s interesting to study this and its source : Expectations? Tension between reason and feelings? Between brain and reality? What do you think? Have you been crushed by beauty one day? In front of a painting? A place? A light?

Cristallization has also been described by Stendhal. It is about love, of course! It’s when, in the beginning of a love story, the “marvellous” feeling cristallizes around every characteristic of the loved person, who is seen as perfect in every way, or as they say in wiki : a mental metamorphosis, in which unattractive characteristics of a new love are transformed into perceptual diamonds of shimmering beauty.

We have all probably been there : when we’re ready to love someone, when our “love” chooses a person, we open some gates and a big lake of sweet sugary love is poured, unleashed on the poor chosen “other”. Admiration, Acknowledgement, Hope and Delight are steps of the journey.

Of course, this is far from a balanced process of inventing a couple! You can watch out for disillusion. Cristallization often grows when the loved person is far (great for perfection, right?). This “love” generally explodes like a multicolor comet in front of reality.

Then remains possibilities : nothing, a friendship, a real love, an impetus to build something stronger, etc.

Thanks for reading!

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“Consider other doors, gallivanter!”

Sometimes you’re less interested by the works than by the theories, discussions, struggles, articles and letters by those who invented it or studied it.

Imagine you’re interested in cubism, or new wave music. You can study the paintings and listen to OMD’s albums, but you could also dislike all of it, and at the same time discovering plenty of good ideas and concepts in the articles, books, letters around these subjects.

Go to France, but visit other cities than Paris. Read a poet, but not his poetry. Focus on trains when you study WWII.

So what? Well, nothing more than :

“Consider other doors, gallivanter!”.

I’d go further : choose a field you really don’t want to like (pick one : Street Art, Turkish Music, history of the Loire Castles in France, early movies of Brian de Palma, African food, or Nicolas de Stael’s paintings), and you go girl!

You could be surprised. Or find harmonic links with what you like, concepts you could apply to your discipline, or other doors to even more interesting territories.

Thanks for reading!

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Inner Travels are cheaper

I don’t travel, I never took a plane : I know I’m wrong. I knowwww!

I like to read books; though (I’m an astronomer, not an astronaut) about traveling.

Every tourist will say he’s “not a tourist”, but each good traveling authors speaks about other things than local shopping or visiting “what you have to see”. Carrière tells us that he founds many beautiful things in Agra, India, which are NOT the Taj Mahal. And there are others things to see in Paris than Le Louvre and the Eiffel Tower.

Deleuze says that traveling authors always finish by saying they were seeking… a father. Beckett has a character who says something like “We are stupid, but not stupid enough to travel as a leisure”.

Proust says that we travel to check something. Mmhhh?

I would imagine, like Deleuze again, an immobile travel. Or a VERY SLOW travel.

So I like to read about these. And I like to prepare a good inner travel, too. With books and Internet, you can travel through the American Civil War, or the French Revolution, the life of Faulkner or Bartok, Stanley Kubrick movies or whatever. Choose your study. It’s a travel. Learning a language too. I had a friend who travelled through India, learned the language, and got married there. Good!

OK, I’ll get a passport.

Have a nice day!

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