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.

 

Reading Kundera in a crowded football stadium

I had a friend who was a teacher. She was a book lover, a quiet person you could meet in an art gallery or in a library.

She was in love with a guy who loved soccer. She was intrigued and decided to go watch a match.

I suggest you go on YouTube to 4’00” and listen to it loud…

She went there with a book, a Kundera book. She was not interested in the game, but in the festive atmosphere. 

At one moment, the whole stadium stood up (because of a point, of course). Screams! The guy next to her, then, excited and yelling, said to the reading lady : “Sorryyyyy”.

She smiled.

Listened.

Kept reading…

 

Have a nice day!

Bollaert is the RC Lens Stadium, North of France. Well…

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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A slightly of the slighties damaged book stays a book

A ruck. A crease!

Drama.

I’m a bookseller. I have this conversation daily :

– Do you have another one?
– Let me check (beeep). No. Why, do you need a second one?
– No, but this one is slightly creased.
– Where?
– Here.
– Ohhh…

And, well, you need a microscope to see it.

A flaw.

Terrible.

Drama!

“But you know, I’m a little obsessive about these things”, etc…

(This for a pocket book which’ll be destroyed in a backpack next week, or brokenspined in the sand on its belly two days later)

Think about it a minute. Isn’t it… Isn’t the importance of a book in the flow of words you’ll read in it?

In fact, it’s horrible : No book has zero flaw. NONE. It’s a living thing. Like you. You have flaws too. These little wrinkles, awweeee…

Let me ask wiki :

A book is a series of pages assembled for easy portability and reading, as well as the composition contained in it. The most common modern form of book is a codex volume consisting of rectangular paper pages bound on one side, with a heavier cover and spine, so that it can fan open for reading.

 

– But you know… I’m…
– OK, I order another one for you.
– Thank you!

By the way, what’s this book about?

 

Have a nice day!

 

 

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Minimalistic Bookporn : when you read prefaces only

There are 2 types of houses : with books, or empty of.

Imagine you have a couple of days in an apartment full of books.

Of course, you have your own books in your backpack. These are like air, or food, right?

 

One strangeodd way of spending a few hours alone in this place is :

Read prefaces only

 

Pick up books in a random way – be fast and casual, like a little girl with daisies.

Read prefaces only. Mais oui !

– What for, mister Becausewhat?

  1. It can bring you a urge desire to read the rest of the book
  2. You’ll discover authors you don’t know
  3. If a preface is written by another person, your brain will try to understand this link between both
  4. It’s knowledge feast & debauchery
  5. It’ll provide seeds for your hungry mind
  6. You’ll associate this place with exploration and pleasure (and?)
  7. It’s a good way to lose yourself (and you need to, right?)
  8. Discovery (of fields you ignore)
  9. Maps & new ways of thinking, drawing paths
  10. Seeds for subsequent conversations with the books owner
  11. Inspiration (take notes, silly)
  12. Extending your knowledge

 

Voilà! What did you find? How did you choose? Did you ask for indications from your host – for the day after? What happened then?

Thanks for reading! Have a nice week-end!

 

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Writers & Bloggers : Pleasure of bad books?

(Sorry for my wobbly French today…)

Bad books (and blogs) can be useful for a writer – but I suppose it’s a low level thing.

  • It (possibly) can make your brain move, like this :
    • I would have written it better,
    • in another way,
    • I would have added this and that, etc…
  • It makes you angry, and you can try to use this strange gas-oil which is anger.
  • You can say that the author is a spirit-enemy (the useful thing of feeling or “inventing an enemy” is an old trick), it triggers your mobilization. Fight him… and write.
  • Any negative feeling (next to anger is bitterness, hate, sarcasms, etc) can be used too. Your clockworkbrain is activated. Some guys (in your head) will step into the breach. Geronimo!
  • After all, you could maybe find a good idea or a pleasant formulation in a bad book or a bad blog, it’s really the idea of a seed found within dust and rocks. Steal it and make it grow your own way, haha!

 

I suggest you prepare and foresee an antidote (a good book) – to clean your head, by Jove!

This, of course, is an exercise. You can not separate books and blogs between “good ones and bad ones”. It’s all relative, silly. It depends.

You have to consider that what YOU write can also be considered the same way by another reader. Your wordings as a bad place, as a bad example, inspiring better things? Awwweee! That’s a good (low level) thing, right? 🙂

 

Thanks for reading!

 

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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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