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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Picasso’s whirlwind

What is your exploration field, today? Japanese cinema, French classical music, British painters of 19th Century, US Civil War?

Picasso for me. There are constant exhibitions around the world, but there’s a big one in the Musée d’Orsay this fall in Paris. As a bookseller, I got the usual shower of new books. I opened one, and the summary stung me.

Mahler, Proust, Marx, I chose these three examples for this article : Jungle Syndrome. Something, in these, is “too much”. Too complex, too rich, too interesting, too big. You pick a leaf, then you have a tree, a forest, a universe. Gasp !

I also realized I had to find my own path : Feeling the air of Waterloo & other oblique explorations…

One explorer’s pleasure – when you want to explore a subject like this – is to gather weapons : documentaries, downloaded images or pdf, books. I ordered some, bought second handed others…

I’m reading the “first little guides”, one of Picasso’s wives biography, and many prefaces and introductions.

I ordered a huge biography, bought a second hand two volumes chronological illustrated book, found other things in my own shelves…

I already feel the fire, “this” fire you all know…

“Towering genius of the century”, “long and prolific career”, what I already know is this : nobody can explain or frame Picasso’s work. Every author talks about paradoxes or multifacets (like for every important artist or writer). Variety and never ending exploration, but with strong themes and structures under. Modern, but based on classics. Childish, but with strong work and maturity. Free, daring and casual, all driven by terrific invention. Revolutionary on many stairs.

So, yes, it’s whirlwindy, immense, impossible to cover. One of the good things is that Pablo Picasso talks and explains a lot about his work, about what he wants

This will be a lovely autumn, right?

Thanks for reading!

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“I’ll put this one on my SOB (Stack of Books)”

Librarians, booksellers, booklovers : we all know the SOB, the Stack of Books (to read).

In French we call it the PAL (la pile à lire).

You know this, right? You just bought a book, or you’re just being stung by a subject (thus you picked up some books in your shelves).

  • It can be a couple of books, but it can be two dozens, or a whole shelf, yeeeesh.
  • It can be a real stack, or a stack… in your mind.
  • You can read them in order, or begin all of them all – so there!
  • While you attack your stack, you’ll probably add more books on it.

Yes, it’s sisyphian.

It leads me to this (if it’s a pattern) : Don’t we all have other “stacks”? Things to do? Things to think about (when I have a little time alone)? Things to talk about when I’m with this person? Clothes (to iron, obviously)? Methods? Recipes? How do we choose into a stack ?

Isn’t a stack a list made real?…

Here’s my current one. I invite you to post yours in the comments 🙂

Have a nice day!

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