Ze French Coronavirus Chronicles, 6

Ze French Coronavirus Chronicles, 6

 

Jünger writes :

It seems that in particularly looted regions, one found refuge in arts like in lifeboats, mostly in poetry and music.

 

***

Types of confinements? Sometimes we look like prisoners of course, or castaways, shipwrecked sailors (oh I read so many books about this “type”, very curious about what they did and how), but also otakus, those people who do not want social contact at all, hermits, waldgängers

But I prefer to place myself in the role of these two guys in Jünger’s fable On the Marble Cliffs : the narrator and his brother live in a hermitage, a closed retreat, a life of refinements and quietness, with plenty of books and a garden. Outside, there’s a village and surrounding hills, “who feel increasing pressure from the unscrupulous and lowly followers of the dreaded head forester”… Brrr!

 

***

New words I discovered yesterday : bollix (but, verb or noun?), stake (but, wager, and bet??).

Each new word is like a “hole plugged” and filled, and in the same time it appears like an enigma, a radioactive element full of questions : When do people use this? What is the difference between it and its synonyms? Etc…

 

***

This epidemic made me think about Social Medias. To find informations, accounts, opinions…

  1. Facebook is useless. Who uses the search bar here? And if you find a good text from a doctor on the web, do you ask him as a friend on Facebook to follow him ? Nope. It’s just fun, voilà.
  2. Twitter is better but need constant adjustments, I love the way I find new persons and things through retweets.
  3. Reddit is great, à ma grande surprise, because it’s moderated. There you can follow a person, but you mostly follow a subject.

There are really useless and hilarious and interesting SubReddits, like /aww, /damnthatsinteresting, /kamikazebywords, /technicallythetruth, /oddlystatisfying, /birdsforscale or /catsstandingup, or /hmm.

https://www.reddit.com/r/CatsStandingUp/

 

***

I think it’s a common human law : people don’t really think, and they feel invincible. When the epidemic began to expand out of China, if you were a minimum informed you knew you had to buy some food, wash your hand, and avoid crowds.

I began to follow the /coronavirus Reddit and read accounts of young guys in Italy telling that they were mocked if they wore a mask. “It’s just a flu” will become a phrase people will remember in the future, as a symbol of hurdy-gurdy-stupidity. Today they have almost one thousand deaths per day, in Italy…

Today we hear about Spring Break parties or about guys in the world arguing like “Nobody will tell me what to do and when to do it”. These things shall pass, for two reasons :

  1. Stupidity and not listening, with consequences (maybe regrets)
  2. “No Choice”, sadly, with consequences too

When in India or Mexico or Africa we have confinement, people have to go out because they are not paid if they don’t work, or they massively move to go home (which is far elsewhere), or it’s so crowded in cities that when you go erranding, you’re packed, want it or not.

 

***

In the constant irony of life, there’s religion. In many place on the planet – and each one has its own “God”, right? – religious gatherings lead to explosions/disseminations of cases, therefore deaths. Very curious to see this range of religious or conservative milieus – because what? Hmmm. Example in France :

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-france-church-spec/special-report-five-days-of-worship-that-set-a-virus-time-bomb-in-france-idUSKBN21H0Q2

 

 

Thanks for reading! Stay safe!

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Have a nice day! Stay safe!

 

Postmodern Short Stories in America?

Hmm Postmodern Short Stories in America? That’s a good title, right?

I always loved short stories of the USA, and in my life I read a lot of these – I remember Faulkner, Salinger, Carver, but also Fitzgerald, William Goyen, Flannery O’Connor, Edith Wharton. I bought and didn’t read K. A. Porter, and in English – which is difficult for me – W. Cather, or more Raymond Carver…

Finishing the David Lodge autobiography, I found these three names : Brautigan, Barthelme and Coover, as postmodernists. Puzzled, because I know Brautigan a bit, I googled and found this subject : Postmodern Short Stories in America.

So, I did a little search and found this (I bolded the bold) : “The history of the short story in mid-twentieth century America continues to be marked by a tension between the twin fictional poles of realism and romance, the story of accurate ‘reportage’ and the story of fantasy and imagination.”

Thus :

“The short story also encourages a reflexive self-consciousness about literary form, a propensity to build into the story a commentary on itself – and a mingling of genres and registers.”

THIS is interesting, right?

Because, what is “postmodernism”, after all, now we’re… after that?

Wikipedia is a messy mess, look what I’ve found :

Skepticism, irony, or rejection of the grand narratives and ideologies of modernism, self-referentiality, epistemological and moral relativism, pluralism, and irreverence.

Let’s dig :

  • John Barth is said parodic, “The process of making a novel is the content, more or less.”
  • Donald Barthelme, “…experimental, he avoids traditional plot structures, relying instead on a steady accumulation of seemingly unrelated detail. Subverting the reader’s expectations.”
  • Robert Coover, magic realism, self-referentiality.
  • William H. Gass, the stylist : “His prose has been described as flashy, difficult, edgy, masterful, inventive, and musical.”

 

See why I’m intrigued?

Do you know some of them?

 

Thanks for reading!

 

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Learning by weaving

As a bookseller, I hear sometimes this phrase from a mother, about her child :

– He doesn’t read.

This is a screens generation, so it happens all the time! I answer the simple way :

– Buy him books, anything, about what he loves!

Trivial, but true. The little guy will, with a little luck, find it interesting. Something interesting in a BOOK? Really?

The structure here is simple : to learn something, weave it with a subject you already know, or an interesting field.

To gain vocabulary in English, I never learned lists (boring), but I bought American books, short stories (Carver, Caldwell), or actors’ biographies (Warren Beatty, Karl Malden). I underlined words or idioms I didn’t kknow…

Like the British red string :

The ropes in use in the royal navy, from the largest to the smallest, are so twisted that a red thread runs through them from end to end, which cannot be extracted without undoing the whole; and by which the smallest pieces may be recognized as belonging to the crown.

Use a red thread of passion or knowledge into your learning process. If you have to learn German, complete the process with the autobiography of (and other books about) your favorite German director (Fassbinder? Herzog?). Or subjects.

It’s “interesting”, it’ll weave, therefore you’ll learn with efficiency.

Where else to use this?

Thanks for reading!

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How could we call the science of ways of studying a field?

Imagine you want to study a big subject, like Greek Mythology or History of Italy, or American Cinema…

It’s all a matter of choices. The vocabulary is interesting :

  1. Boundaries : time, places, links with other fields.
  2. Sources : books, dictionaries, articles, web.
  3. Methodology : reading, writing, thinking, asking.
  4. Guides : what is the first book, which will help you to decide others? Who would you ask advices?
  5. Maps : bibliography, etc.

 

Mythology : What collection of myths would I study? How do I move into this? With scholars or popularizers? Greek only, or Roman too? Do I read novels? Do I link mythology with history (Troy)? Literature (Odyssey)? Do I care about legends, or characters? Do I visit the places in Greece? Do I study the influences of it in modern times? On what : words (names on places, months, characters), stories, art? Do I confront different schools of scholars?

How do I study the US Civil War? Men? Battles? Slavery? Chronology? Links with Europa? Maps?

How do I do?

  • I like to have a dictionary
  • Old history next to new history books
  • A casualness (a freedom born from the fact I’m having pleasure, and I’m not writing a thesis)
  • Zooming (studying precisely a single day, for example)
  • Biographies or testimonies from people who were there
  • Blogs
  • Piling books and pecking into them

 

What did I study like that? Manet and Picasso, Brian de Palma and Akira Kurosawa, French Revolution, US Civil War, Napoléon, the battle of Stalingrad, the D-Day, Chekhov and Faulkner, Brahms, Bartok and Stravinsky, Puccini’s operas, strangeization in Arts,

And you?

How could we call the science of ways of studying a field?

Thanks for reading!

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Pic : Tamas Deszo

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Intervene in Groups

In two consecutive days, I learned things about groups. This coincidence puts me on alert (of course). Here’s the result :

ONE

Currently reading Dr Yalom’s autobiography. He tells how he began to work with groups, as a therapist. To train and to learn in University, he joined a 8 days group therapy, sat in a middle of a dozen other people. The psy came in and told the group something about they won’t talk about the past but “the now only” – which is obviously stupid – then she kept her mouth closed. Silence.

Yalom, also there as a watcher of course, saw it coming, a blossom, from silence, of different bursts. Each people had their own way to react, from “Fine!” to “Come on!” to silence, to “She know what she does…” to “You’re manipulating us!”. Then the therapist had like a whole bunch of little trees in front of her, which grew up all by themselves, from a single sentence. Then works with that.

TWO

I talked yesterday with someone who’s a member of an association of “out loud readers“. Of course it’s interesting! You want to know why, and what does one learn in a such place, etc.

He told me the coach was really great, because VERY directive. One person begins to read out loud in front of the assembly, until she squarely interrupts them, give them instructions to follow – beck and call. Most of the time, instructions given are surprising, though clearly made to disturb and break patterns : one plays as an actor, one is slow, or shy, one is grey neutral. Boring.

She orders to whisper, to walk while reading, to be mean or frightening, even if you read a French XIXth Century love novel.

THREE

See me coming? Yalom writes than one of the powers of the therapist comes from… he gives his attention to the patient. I love to think it’s the one secret of all this article. The coach, in a group, pays attention to you. That is a present, and a very powerful thing, in a world where nobody really pays attention.

It’s one of these things which shocks you when you grow up, when you realize that in society, at work, in family, in many circles or conversations :

Most people let you talk waiting for their turn to talk.

They don’t really care : they want their turn.

Thus the simple knack from Dale Carnegie : LISTEN to people. Listen to them really. Then you’ll get smart questions, then listen more.

 

What do you think about ONE and TWO styles of group leaders? Give a small seed then listen and use what you catch, or give strong instructions which will disturb or break patterns? Can this second style be used in therapies?

Thanks for reading!

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Carl Larsson, Swedish painter

I discovered this girl, reading on a bench with her cat and her dog, something like 30 years ago. I remember I took a picture… But what? No Internet at this time. I was let alone with a name. I forgot the name but not this watercolor masterpiece.

This week I found another picture, a red apron, and my instinct clicked : it’s the guy who painted the girl on the bench. I checked on Pinterest and found it quickly.

Carl Larsson (1853-1919).

Yes it’s an “academic pleasure”, like Rockwell or Hopper. When Christmas comes closer, it’s a good thing!

Have a nice Swedish day!

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Books! Awards! Jump!

Goncourt, Renaudot, Fémina : it’s the literary prizes week in France. Books! Awards!

As soon as the names come up, herds of obedient consumers rush to buy the books – which are sold out, of course.

I wonder why. Do people want the book because they don’t know how to choose a story by themselves? Do they just pavlovically trigger-happy-obey to primary medias impulse? Is it something like mimetic desire (Google it, but it’s the way a kid want “this” red toy-car just because someone wants it)?

I don’t know, but I have a solution.

If you consider that getting awarded means it’s a good book, just move a little back, to last year, or ten years ago, whatever. What if the Pulitzer of 2014 STAYED good?

You’ll find plenty more good infos on the web about each book. You’ll find a pocket book version. You’ll find it cheaper on Craiglist, and you’ll disobey a little to cattle movements. Little pleasure.

Have a nice day with a book!

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