Small Units Speed & Ways of Escaping : Chronicle 57

“A very trying summer”? I found this in a Willa Cather short stories book. Who “tried” what?

Dictionaries give me the French “éprouvant” (punishing, demanding, grueling), which comes from “épreuve” (ordeal, hardship).

Question : is “trying” colored with “he tried”, or is it, for English speaker, like another word?

oOo

There’s a whole continent to explore : idioms of a language.

In French, if someone asks you something and there’s NO WAY you give it to them, we say “Des clous !” (“Some nails!”) while you say “No way” or “Nothing doing” (which I like a lot).

When something’s fabulous, I hear you say “the cat’s meow” (or whiskers), and I think “aaaawwwww”.

oOo

Today, web pages are all somethered with Java and PHP. I’m an old fool and in 1993 I was writing my blog in HTML without any editor. Raw. As French is full of accents, it was much worse than you can imagine :

The word “hétérogénéité” needed : hétérogénéité, yeah. I don’t tell you about the tables and charts. It was a mess to code that!

As I type, I was very fast, and my hands, today, remember the sequence “é” very well.

But at this time, I was getting some emails from guys asking me what was my secret to have “so fast display”. Well, nothing more than HTML, that all.

Make it simple. Decrease sophistication. Small fast units. It’s a little tool.

I remember Robert Fripp thinking about that, against big pop groups’s tours, with dozens of trucks. He preferred small fast groups.

What do we gain?

oOo

My fantasy is to explore the States of America in a slantoblique way. Maybe I should visit Bowbells, after all?

One day I was talking about that with a friend, living near Seattle. I asked her : WHY don’t you take the train to go to San Francisco?

In France, the “train thing” is more important. TGV (Trains Grande Vitesse) go 190 miles/h and I can cross my whole country in train in less than 6 hours.

From Seattle to San Francisco by train, I checked : 22h, 1300 km, it’s taller than France itself!

How can I explain? My brain watches the map, and like refuses to get that USA is bigger than that. Of course I knowww the distances and that France is smaller that Texas alone!

oOo

Warfare, strategy, tactics, yeah, you know the Art of War, and that it’s useful out of the field of war, too, blah blah blah : in a couple, in a group, sports, trial, business of course : these “applications outside the military” are fascinating, right?

There are many other Chinese strategy books. The best is probably The Thirty-Six Stratagems. Very interesting in itself AND in the way our mind wants to apply them elsewhere.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thirty-Six_Stratagems

oOo

There are many sorts of humor, and it’s funny to sort and categorize them. I like when humor is to “say the truth” : Demetri Martin & Dilbert are two examples.

I like sports bars. Sports bars are great because they collect all the people I don’t want to hang out with and put them in one room. I’m not against sports. I don’t have a problem with sports. I’m just not good at them. I’m not coordinated. I’m not drawn to sports. I don’t even look like someone who could spend time in a sports bar. I have a very punchable face in a sports bar.

I set a personal record on Christmas. I got my shopping done three weeks ahead of time. I had all the presents back in my apartment. I was halfway through wrapping them and I realized ‘Damn, I used the wrong wrapping paper.’ The paper I used said “Happy Birthday.” I didn’t want to waste it, so I just wrote ‘Jesus’ on it.

oOo

One of the best games is to “find a common structure, then differences between things”. Find examples.

oOo

When is it you have to work well against your hierarchy? You need a mask. You have to forget about your need of approval, play the hierarchy play, knowing its principles, invent your own laws and principle. Loneliness and autonomy, samurai. It’s exhausting though.

oOo

Who likes your little enthusiasms?

oOo

What kind of burning tryingness is there? What are ways of escaping?

Thanks for reading! Stay safe!

Ze French Coronavirus Chronicles, 8

Ze French Coronavirus Chronicles, 8

Reckless ou irresponsible?

Confinement makes us TRY to understand others. I can really get that some guys become crazy without running everyday. In some parts of France (like in Paris), it’s forbidden to jog from 10 AM to 7 PM – to provide some quietness for the rare people who have to go outside to refill the fridge. So, well, they run before, and after. Good.

I never understood runners, though I tried. Is it just a way to get outside, get some air and some change? Or a goal for health (“I’m bored running like an idiot but it’s good for my body”)? Or a drug thing : waiting for the “after” moment, when one slops down in their sofa, drowned in pleasure endorphins?

Out on the plain, running like hell

Or stupid questions about exploding domestic violence in confinement times : “How come people marry violent men? Was this inner trait really invisible at the time?”. Yeah, I suppose, and I shut up.

Questions, questions. What about these three Types?

  • The first is the proud strong halfwit hammerhead, standing on “Nobody tells me what to do!”.
  • The two is the young moronic featherhead, vaguely laughing, partying all night in crowds.
  • The three is the exhilarated religious boss, “God protects us from coronavirus” (with the help of certain psalms, probably). Churchurlishness…

Then death comes around. With this disease, you just drown, suffocated. It’s the sad concept of “too late regret”. It’s universal, in all countries.

Empathically, trying to understand people. It’s a discipline!

***

To write this I had big laughs with the English synonyms of “idiot” (adjective or noun). I get the nuances (in violence or funnyness), but I really don’t know about chucklehead, goon, halfwit or schmuck. I guessed about the rustic countryside colors of oaf, yokel, lout. But what about bungler, klutz, simpleton or churl? Words are linked with bad manners, others with ungainliness or ways of sitting.

When one ESL like me begins to dig into a vocabulary field, even a funny field like this one, there’s a feeling of terrible loss : I know nothing!

***

Yesterday I watched Episode 2 of Carnival Row, with pen and paper – in English with English subs. In less than an hour, I wrote unknown nuggets : aught, lively, hoof, ghastly, quackery, snug, squander, shuddering, passerby, beget, shrine, pall, to preen.

Pfff !

Then I search : aught in “For aught I know!”, lively in an order : “Now go!”, hoof for the foot of horse but also as a verb (the GREAT “She had a flat tire, she had to hoof it to work”), and if ghastly is dreadful or horrible, what’s the difference?, and is snug comfortable or tight-fitting (positive or negative radioactivity?), and squander and waste? Is a pall a coffin? What’s that interesting verb, to pall (a domain, a person?), or to cast a pall over? Etc, etc.

I love it, but it’s exhausting!

***

I watched Underwater (2020) – a group of scientists at the bottom of the ocean encounters creatures after an earthquake destroys their laboratory. Everybody seems to hate this movie (because it looks like Alien, or because many people hate Kristen Stewart). Stewart is great, the beginning is surprising, the monster is Cthulhu-esque, and it’s very stressful. Cons? Some strange ellipses, a so-so sense of locations, scrambled lights at times. The characters (and the way we meet them, the way they talk) are strangely realistic, it’s also a problem (we don’t know them enough, maybe). I’d give a 6/10.

***

If you’re alone and not allowed to go, you have to find something to explore. Today let’s think about battles.

Interesting battles, what are they? You have to choose one, which IS an activity.

You can choose a star, like the D-Day, Austerlitz or Gettysburg. I’d choose elsewhere. Antietam or Wagram.

Then begins your researches. What’s history around? Who are the generals? The opposing forces? What about the battlefield, the terrain? Phases? Prelude? Ending? Events? Aftermath?

But also : where to find maps? What books to read? History? Remembrances (of whom : officers or soldiers?)? Where is the place today? Is there a way to go visit it? Is there a forum on the Web, where people who know this battle could help you?

There’s an editor I know : https://ospreypublishing.com/ – they have numerous leaflets about many battles.

It should get you busy for a few days…

Thanks for reading! Sorry for my English…

Stay safe!

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Blockhaus & Casemates on French beaches…

On French seashores, on hundreds of miles, from the extreme North of the country to South Brittany, you often meet what we call (after the Germans) Blockhaus. Hitler built what they called the Atlantic Wall, against Allied invasion, of course. Happily it was not strong enough against the D-Day troops…

These huge concrete casemates are today often falling in ruins. Of course it’s dangerous, and of course kids (and buses of kids when the classroom is visiting Normandy or else) LOVE to play soldiers in these.

I remember – as a little boy with a few friends – being a little afraid inside, in the dark, but strangely sheltered too. A piece of chocolate on a buttered slice of bread, and it was all OK.

At least, it makes dramatic photographies today!

Here are two photos of a blockhaus I took near Hardelot, in the North of France.

Have a nice day!

 

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Seeing to Finesse amid Chaos

There are many levels and kinds of chaos. You can be in the middle of a furious battle or a sales assistant in an overcrowded store near Christmas time, it’s chaotic.

There’s a dial to watch on every agent working in mayhem. From 100 (“I use my skills and I understand & master everything in my field”) to 0 (“I give up, I crash, I cry, now fuck this shit”).

It’s interesting to watch the cursors and levers (“I activate”) and dials’ needles (“I see what is happening here”), between efficient overactivity and sarcastic sloppiness.

In this blog I already studied three different states :

  1. “Staggering State” & Observation Amusée du Chaos
  2. The “Titanic Octet” state : stop panicking & arrange twinkles
  3. The Hummingbird Tale

 

Ernst Jünger (German) was in continuously bombed trenches during WWI, and he was reading Léon Bloy, an angry French author, and noticed how the birds were back to singing, slowly, after a night of explosions.

Seeing to Finesse amid Chaos is a state of mind. It’s a security inner mode. A way to keep safe and calm when a part of you wants to scream. It’s to restore a Middle Age painting in one besieged city. To order, in December, a single book about the letters between a musician and a philosopher in the middle of piles of cardboard boxes full of best sellers. To study the youth of Goethe in a city ravaged by plague. It’s a long conversation about Pondichery, India, next to an overexcited screaming foam party…

Stay safe!

Have a nice day!

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Photo : B. Plossu

 

Chipping off prone varnish of Civilization

This night I dreamed of a street. It looked like a Japanese suburb. In a quiet evening, I was with my family outside, behind the house. Kids were playing in the garden, though night had fallen already.

Then something happened, far in the city. We heard screams in the distance. Then some people, more and more people began to pass in front of the house. I was watching them from my porch. They were worried, like fleeing something.

I stood up, listening to the night, on the look out for clues. I heard more screams, more people, like a river. I heard someone saying : “People are really fighting over there, phewww!”.

I grabbed the kids, my wife : “Hop hop! Everyone inside!”. Then… I woke up, in a grey mood, with this word in my head : “Varnish“.

 

Civilization as a “varnish over something” is a classic metaphor. Depends on what you think about : over opaque nature, over barbarism of men, over… absurdity?

Fragile varnish, chipping off prone.

Well, cities can burn, wars and earthquakes – or revolutions – can fracture the skeleton of social structures enough to push entire counties to different strange Middle Ages.

It’s probably why many humans are fascinated by “after the bomb” or epidemic (or zombie) movies, when one or a little group of humans has to gather to protect themselves against… something.

As a bookseller I see that many people buy books about survivalism. How do you do when there’s no electricity anymore?

 

Social collapse can also lead to other things.

When the Russians arrived in Berlin in 1945, it was about another kind of survivalism. German people (mostly women, kids and old people) had to find food, water… and find hideouts not to be raped… For months.

 

Isn’t our health a similar varnish? We move forward, full of trust, until…

 

OK. How will I finish this article? A boring “Don’t take things too seriously” quote? I don’t think so. No, let’s BE serious. One day, we will maybe HAVE to be seriously serious.

No : let’s invent a meta-story full of paradoxes and lessons. Oui ?

 

An author lives with wife and kids in a wealthy neighborhood. He writes a novel about a family trying to survive after a nuclear war (no electricity, fires, looters, violent riots, nuclear winter coming).
Our guy has fun and makes progress in his writing, but a REAL terrible earthquake happens, destroying 80% of his city. Chaos ensues (no electricity, fires, looters, no more police or hospitals, etc). Confrontation between his ideas for the book and… reality.

You have a week.

Have a great day!

 

PS : In my dream, should I have had taken my family out of my house, or was it a good idea to hide inside?

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WWII in France, a little boy – my father – remembers…

My father passed away last year. He was born in 1936 so he was a kid during the war in France.

His father was made prisoner by the German army at the beginning of the war, so he did not remember him. The guy had to work as a prisoner in a German factory which eventually was bombed by the allies.

So the only memory my father had of his own father was a funeral casket.

  • My father remembers the endless sound of American or English bombers over the night, when he was trying to sleep. MMmmmmmmmmmm. For hours he said.
  • He remembers of a fight between two planes during a day, and he was imitating it, in the garden, his mother yelling at him : come inside the house now!
  • He remembers that one day an English plane was shot down, and that the pilot managed to escape, and that some women of the village kept the parachute fabric to make shirts.
  • He remembers that a troop of Germans stayed in the village and in summer dug a swimming pool where some kids of the village learnt how to swim.
  • He remembers, after the D-Day, the excitation of knowing the Americans were coming to deliver the country.
  • He remembers the tanks, and that tanks were so heavy and powerful that they could damage some roads.
  • He remembers a very tall American guy patting his head and giving him… a chewing gum tablet.

Festivities in the village. His mother crying. He barely could watch a war movie in his adult life.

I took this picture in the garden I talked about :

 

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3 Novels about Waiting for the Enemy

Dino Buzzati The Tartar Steppe (Italy 1940)

Julien Gracq The Opposing Shore (France 1951)

Ernst Jünger On the Marble Cliffs (Germany 1939)

I won’t do it here in my little blog, but if you dare, it’s a great thing to study. Each novel shows people (in a fortress for the two first), waiting for an enemy, and invisible and frightening danger. Each novel is great! This is a triple door to many questions :

  • What does the author want to say? Is it about life (we fear things, we wait for something)?, politics (Jünger about the nazis?)? You just read and find your interpretation. And it’s maybe not what you think!
  • What can we do against a rising peril? Flee? Resist? Wait? Be impassible? What else?
  • What if this danger was not real, invented (by who? You? Someone else? What for?)? Maybe that “attack” will never occur? Maybe it will happen JUST because you triggered it with your army? What about “You get what you expect”?
  • Where and why should you invent an enemy? To regroup? To get stronger? To keep yourself busy?

Have fun! Thanks for reading!

#rain #herecomestherainagain #bw