The reader who doesn’t read

I know plenty of book lovers, but this Type is rare…

The reader who doesn’t read.

There’s this man I see in the bookstore twice a week or more. He subscribed to many weekly magazines and wants to buy every book with good reviews. Let’s say : between 5 and 10 books a week.

Little by little, by what he was saying, I figured it out : this guy hasn’t got the time, didn’t take the time to read any of them. None. It is like a compulsive need to get everything’s “good” for critics.

I have a friend who lived for a few years with a man who was the same : he kept buying books and CDs, but she told me he doesn’t love to read, he never reads, he just pile dozens and dozens of them.

So one could wonder. Let’s try :

  1. Compulsive buying disorder.
  2. A fear to miss something.
  3. A way to say “I’ll read these later, when I’m retired”.
  4. Imposture (“I want to look like an intellectual”).
  5. A vicarious will to look like someone he knows.
  6. A way to hide a big “something is missing in my life”.

 

In a way, in each case, I find so much sadness. Like a big rush, a big energy to do something, but unable to really plug it to reality, to brain. Big appetite, but no acumen…

This Type uses a pattern. What would be this pattern in other areas? Fakery, impostureness? What shades do we find, between doing this just on surface, like a cheater, a fake, or doing it with a good will, deeper, a bit like “being lost, in fact, in the emptiness”. Compulsive liars, wrong artistic projects…

A reader who never reads, awwwee poor man!

 

Thanks for… reading!

 

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Paul Valéry about “writing for someone”?

Paul Valéry writes in one of his Notebooks a dozen lines about… writing. I translate it – sorry for my English :

One must work for Someone; and not for unknowns. One must aim somebody, and the more you aim this someone clearly, the best is the work and the yield of the work. The work of spirit is entirely determined – only if someone is in front of it. The one who addresses, aims at someone, addresses to all. But the one who addresses to everybody addresses to nobody.
It is all about finding this someone. This somebody gives the tone to the language, gives the extent to explanations, measures the attention one can ask.
To picture someone is the great skill of the writer.

Again : sorry for my English. It’s very hard, here. I bolded the bold.

This declaration has a strange effect on me. It’s like being inside the head of a thinker (and in fact, that’s it).

  • You want to say “Noooo that’s NOT that simple”.
  • You want to say : “One must care about an audience”.
  • Or maybe “You must write to please yourself, and the audience will come”.

Questions for bloggers, right?

But somewhere there’s a bell in my head saying “He’s right”. Some of us maybe invent a human someone, aggregating people we know, people we imagine, followers and readers, old friends, until we have this strange modeled golem : our Reader.

 

Thanks for reading, and have a nice day!

Jean-Pascal

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Instagram : _bodylanguage_

 

Il faut travailler pour Quelqu’un ; et non pour inconnus. Il faut viser quelqu’un, et plus nous le visons nettement, meilleur est le travail et le rendement du travail. L’ouvrage de l’esprit n’est entièrement déterminé que si quelqu’un est devant lui. Celui qui s’adresse à quelqu’un, s’adresse à tous. Mais celui qui s’adresse à tous ne s’adresse à personne.
Il s’agit seulement de trouver ce quelqu’un. Ce quelqu’un donne le ton au langage, donne l’étendue aux explications, mesure l’attention qu’on peut demander.
Se représenter quelqu’un est le plus grand don de l’écrivain.

 

What I read

What do I read? What am I reading? I don’t know. Not novels in any case. Not anymore. Shortly, I’d say they fall off my hands – because of “I feel the author behind the story” thing – but that’s another story.

 

Nietzsche had a great mustache, right? This dictionary is like an infinite reservoir of ideas. I open it at a random page from time to time. Even if you’re not a scholar, but just a seeds seeker. I don’t need more than five minutes to find a brilliant idea.

This Goya‘s biography is perfect. It’s written by a great Spanish writer. I learn a lot about painting, Spain in 18th Century, Art, cities, history, and… a great personality!… Another universe is good to explore from time to time.

Billeter wrote these three little essays about translations. It’s a field I really always love to dig in. It’s about Chinese-French translations, and it’s full of delightful subtleties… This “Art” requires to activate thin and precise tools of the mind…

Arthur Miller went to China in the eighties to direct of one of his plays (Death of a Salesman). He wrote his diary about all of it. The play is considered one of the best American plays of the XXth Century, and the book is really delicious : intelligence at work. Cultural differences, directing a play, meeting professionals…

The Pléiade of Paul Valéry is exhausting. 1700 pages (and it’s a half of his “Notebooks”!) of good ideas (sorted by topics : eros, poetry, conscience, arts, etc). Brief notes, ideas, concepts, etc. This poet was a huge thinker. He amazes me with his original intelligence. Each paragraph (OK : almost) has the power to drop you in a pool of ideas. He taught me this huge thing : “To see is to forget the name of the thing one sees.” (think : labels, photography, poetry, invention, serendipity, refining intelligence… : see?).

Paul Jorion is a Belgian economist, and he has big common sense. This diary is very, very smart. The kind of bulblights which give smiles.

OK I’m fond of Proust, but sometimes you don’t want to plunge into the “too great” In Search of the Lost Time. I just pick up these essays, then. Lighter. Ideas everywhere, like seeds in the wind. This man had many brains. He is exhausting, generous, and you have to run (to try) to follow. This is a great experience though. You’ll know very few humans in your real life capable of that generosity : enlargingactivating your brain.

Koolhaas is a architect-thinker. This should just be enough to make you salivate, right?

Yalom (the psychiatrist) wrote a few novels, but here it’s an essay. NO mercy for anybody : he talks “at his level”. It’s wise, hard, and exhilarating!

I have this little book about Caillebotte, an impressionist painter, for me a genius of light. If you want to study a good example of “what is new” in Art, try Manet.

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

François Jullien is a French philosopher. Obsessed by China (again?!) he invented concepts based on the fertile differences between occident and this country. I wrote many times about him : The Propensity of Things – for example. He’s a tools provider.

Reading the diary of Gide is like watching a brain at work. He sees, he writes, he travels, he thinks, wonders, doubts. This diary is like… adorable, dense, and always surprising.

Duras was a great French writer, with a real strange gorgeous style. I love her excesses. She’s weird, paradoxical and marvellous. She talks here about her life, her choices.

Deleuze is always not far from my shelves. For me he is the best French philosopher, full of ideas, new concepts and a bit of searchy craziness and virtuosity of the mind.

Charles Juliet is a French writer. He’s dark but quiet, calm, precise, shy, humble. His diaries are like hugging you – with acuteness. He also is a tracker (of himself, of other’s tropisms too).

Edward Said astonished me with this idea of the “Late Style” – what great artists do when they are after maturity. It’s GREAT and the preface ditto (can I say that?).

Bryson borrowed a car, travelled across the USA, wrote this little book about “everything OMG” he saw. It’s hilarious!

Roustang is an hypnotherapist and wrote this whole book about the contrary of every self help book (which all say : move your ass). “Know how to wait”. Hmmm?

 

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Thanks for… reading!

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Benefits of annotating your books

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Wood pencils. 5B is my preferred grading. It’s gorgeous bold.

Annotating. What for?

  1. It’s easier to find back interesting ideas after a while, OK.
  2. It’s interesting to discover, if you reread the book, that the ideas you underlined before were maybe not “that” interesting now, and that you did not notice some greater ones in the middle. The book didn’t change. You did.
  3. Each annotation is like a micro time-capsule which someone (your kids? an unknown person?) will find one day in the future.
  4. Annotating shuts off the solemnity, putting instantly the book out of the wrong-way-up idea of collecting perfect objects, making the book just what it should be : a text container, a tank of ideas , and certainly not a “precious thing”. Putting some life into it.
  5. Linking some parts of the books with your experience, with other books.
  6. Finding the “big picture” – at least linked to your own life.

 

I have my own code. I circle a A, it’s an idea for an article. I slice a square, it means I have to find the book quoted here. Etc.

What about you?

 

Thanks for reading!

 

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The Giving up & Parking Life Temptation

When you hear break-up stories and broken hearts from teens and young people, you smile, right? We’ve all been there, and we all know it’s time for grief, and then one day the sun rises again, and a marvelous man/woman enters the room, and here we go again!

Smile. Moving forward. Find your silver lining. Plenty of fishes in the sea, right?

Comes an age when you begin to smile less. You got a cancer, or your husband died stupidly in a car accident, or the woman you wanted to marry chose an Egyptian flea circus trainer – not you!

You’ve been through shit-hits-the-fan tempests before, you know that another dawn will come. Well, you hope it will. Or you don’t know any more…

Giving up is a possibility, and I see so many sixty years old (mainly women, OK) who decided to park their love life that I’m questioning myself. Why not, after all?

Many people will say you’re complaisant – they think of you like you were a teenager, happy clap-your-hands two days after a boyfriend text-break-up. You consider to not even answer : when this happens to you at mid-life, it hurts much, much more. Your capacity of comprehension is much bigger, and this is exactly why you lost your smile : Big Shit happened, your vessel has stopped, all sails tornripped. Your game is on the ground like a dirty puzzle. You’re fucking wounded!

Parking your life is a way to heal, you’re right. Just this : you have to know that you will maybeventually stay there. Healed, but full of ugly scars. Haunted by a hand in your hair…

Have a nice day!

 

 

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The “Print Disease” is when you HAVE to read what’s around

There are two types of human beings. Those who live normally, and those who, wherever they are, HAVE TO read what’s around.

When you realize that your kid tries to read what’s on the shampoo bottle in the bath, or on the bottle of milk at breakfast time, it’s too late : he has the Print Disease. And there is no cure. Just be kind, OK?

Well, what does it mean? Is it simple curiosity? Or a way of being worried? Keeping ones brain busy, giving him some food, like a locomotive needs some wood to burn?

 

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Jungle Syndrome of Mahler, Proust, Marx

I call “Jungle Syndrome” the feeling you have in front of the big-size-map of some masterpieces (or so-called), or artworks. I chose three examples : Mahler, Proust, and Marx. You can add anything you want : French Revolution, American Civil War, Napoleon, Italian Renaissance, ou alors tout Picasso.

Something, in these, is “too much”. Trop complexe, too rich, too interesting, too big. You pick a leaf, then you have a tree, a forest, a universe. Gasp !

I tried many times to explore Mahler‘s music. The last time I’ve been very persistent, reading about him and his life, watching concerts, listening to different versions of the symphonies. And hooo : it’s too big for me, too complex. 9 long symphonies…

Proust is the same. Thousands of RICH pages. Each page contains style ideas, it’s gorgeous, interesting, full of ideas and subtilities. And it’s lonnnng.

It becomes, each time, a strange weave between boredom and fascination (oui, c’est possible !), as if you could really guess that there are treasures and marvels to discover if you insisted. Efforts necessary, this time ? Yes.

Each time, I let it go. I did !

I did not try Marx, and just a little Picasso. These can keep you busy for YEARS !

You can give up. You will. But you can keep exploring, as well. Just to see what happens. Persistence.

This month I was trying to explain Proust to a friend. So I chose a random page and I began to read. The style was gorgeous, and the idea expressed in this single page let us floored in awe. It sparkled in the conversation. It triggered a urging desire to go on with Proust.

A few months ago I listened to Mahler a lot. This was exhausting for my ears, even if they are trained to listen to classical music. But I insisted, because I was amazed by the beauty of some moments. I was like in front of a complex architecture, trying to find a door.

I found one, then another one, then a movement, then… I kept finding gold nuggets.

Tools : In somes cases, even if it seems complicated, “too much” something, you feel it’s worth it, insist, be persistent. There’s gold, tons of gold : you maybe have to keep digging and find your own doors, find your gold.

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