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When nothing works out as you’d intended

In Absurdlandia, dreams, Local projects, proto drafts, Rejection, Uncategorized on July 19, 2016 at 9:02 am

lots of ways to chip away at someone’s self-confidence. Lots. Anonymity allows for lots more. Add the “hark, who goes there?” factor to it and  you can do a mighty fine job – something like the psychological equivalent of earth tremors. Is the ground moving? Will it grow to a rumble? Will your entire life’s work crash or dissolve or pale into insignificance? Are you being overly sensitive? Is it all your own fault anyway, etc. Upbringings rich in guilt education make for extra-favorable ground to self-inflicted doubt. Fighting the paralysis when it creeps in – how best to.

Move the limbs. Move the fingers. Refuse, refuse the verdict – be it self-administered or someone else’s take on who you are, what you mean, why you said or did not say, why you did or did not do.

The world’s a crazy place and not about to get saner.

Tenir debout dans le chaos. Just because it’s your life and you’re not about to be handed another.

How this will translate in fiction? No idea. None. Right now, the whole project feels as lifeless and useless as a dead fish left to feed the flies under a pier. I’ve no doubt this too shall pass, because that’s what feelings do. Pushing out and out, and out some more. Taking time out to say hey, me, whereto now? Nothing works out the way you expected, does it?

Whereto now.

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Insular?

In news coverage, Uncategorized on July 16, 2016 at 8:44 am

Too much comfort. Too much horror. Shock, as when a cold front crashes into hot moist air.Coping strategies.

Headlines in France and in the States – an aborted (or ongoing) coup in Turkey, the aftermaths of the murderous rampage in Nice. Then: England. At the bottom of the roll-down menu, I could click on to a video in which the new Prime Minister says scripted words of support for France in its hour of need.  But no. Brexit and the new Cabinet notwithstanding, I’ll leave Britons to their own media obsessions for now.

A strange mood prevails. For one, meaningful drawings to express compassion tend to pale at the fourth, fifteenth or thirtieth unspeakable tragedy and folks struggle to find some kind of balance between conflicting needs and emotions. A whereto now sort of mood. Business, fun and gossip as usual? Grief and solemn No pasaran pronouncements?

“the urge… to normalize the abnormal by turning to emotions and attitudes that are familiar” –  Adam Gopnick in The New Yorker of July 14th – writing about Trump, but pretty universal in its application.

 

brief sign-in from somewhere

In Uncategorized on April 20, 2016 at 9:42 am

for the sake of a sign-in on a slo-mo connection in the hills outside Roanne – dogs, chickens, people and hand-written notes + photos. It’s a Pinocchio-themed journey. Left with a  Pinocchio puppet to deliver in Alsace, met up with a bunch of them here + enough human types to start a fresh collection.

Wherein the writer explores untapped reserves of laziness (and the pleasure laziness provides)

In Animals, Current reading, news coverage, notes, proto drafts, Uncategorized on March 8, 2016 at 9:35 am

Sometimes, longhand is best.

Doodling, for instance. Unless you’re gifted in the use of online graphic tools, doodling calls for pen or pencil and paper.Doodling is the sedentary equivalent to aimless walking.

Scribbling. You can’t do that on a computer screen. Writing love letters. Scathing attacks on folks who may or may not recognize themselves – or who might respond with words more scathing still. Best done in longhand and examined from every possible angle, afterwards. To shred? To re-work as appropriate for this character or other?

Longhand and reading. Received my copy of Aldous Huxley’s Antic Hay yesterday. Brought it along for companionship during my two outings back into the coaching world. Not that either session allowed for private reading. Sometimes, a book in the school satchel is something like the promise of an unopened parcel. I started reading last night and this morning. Feel no compunction to race through at blood-pounding speed. It’s not that kind of book.

***

Headlines – the wonderful world of. Last night? One of the fast-news features told the world all the world was to know about the French Prime Minister’s “Secret Dinner” with nine or ten of his merry band. From which one gathers at least one of the merry band of ministers played Brutus or Judas to the press. (Of course, hypocritical reader that I am, I read all about it with delight. With shades of far-away reminiscing about far-away days in a ministerial cabinet and the less-than glorious business of negotiations between governments and trade unions.)

***

Whereto? To mundane stuff with breaks away through reading, writing, scribbling, doodling, daydreaming. The sun’s out, the dog snores, annoying stuff awaits.

Amid the noise and confusion

In Absurdlandia, Hautvoir, Local projects, news coverage, Opinion, proto drafts, Sundays, Uncategorized on February 28, 2016 at 8:45 am

There’s something almost quaint about the debate concerning the conflict over Right to Privacy vs Need to Know. If not quaint, at the very least ironic when the cookies follow you around like tireless pearl and garbage collectors. An immediate for instance? Reading the blurb on Amazon about a book titled Intellectual Privacy : Rethinking Civil Liberties in the Digital Age.

The irony: next time I visit Amazon’s website, my visit will have been referenced and I’ll find further titles of the same ilk for my reading and purchasing pleasure. Depending on an outsider’s take on my personality as outlined by my internet activities, I’m sure to fit into a number of bewildering categories. Should some of the more outlandish takes come knocking at my door, the bewilderment might ramp up to stupendous.

In real terms, one of yesterday’s moments of sublime and exquisite exasperation involved the downloading of a software application. This required opening an account, of course, with identifier and password, and sharing personal information on a website guaranteed utterly-secure-until-hacked. But wait! My computer needed an upgrade before I could download the app. The upgrade involved the sharing of personal information again + three secret answers to questions concerning pets, parents, jobs. Full disclosure here: only one of my secret answers isn’t a bit of creative fluff.

I’d love to think that, as a species, we’ll prefer creative and friendly developments in telepathy to further incursions into megatons of metadata. But even those friendly mind-to-mind moments, I suspect, would find truly horrible applications. Why? Because friendly is as friendly does. Sorry to say, all is not friendly. As demonstrated by front page wars and back alley fist fights alike.

Yesterday, out on a short stroll for the look and sound of fellow humans, a bug-eyed someone was offended by a light-hearted response of mine concerning the Horrors Afoot in Our World. “You talk as if the death of millions was the same thing as a neighborhood fist fight,” the person said.

I wish I could report I had the perfect answer to this comment, but half-decent answers don’t show up at every street corner.  Even in story,  the better ones do their best show after eight, ten or twenty revisions.

Had I been swifter on my intellectual uptake, I might have answered that bemoaning the discomforts of a common cold in no way equated it to the ravages of the Great Plague, for one. For another, sneezing your way out of a neighborhood fist fight made for a less heroic story than Saving Private Ryan, true, mais voilà: the one thing the cookie crumbs can’t predict yet is how a living body reacts to events this time, as compared to another. A body sneezing its way out of a straight jab to the nose is a smart body, in my estimation.

***

Meanwhile in the proto draft, noise and confusion rule the day. In local projects, the brain still struggles against the temptation to zone out and never return. But, of course, some middle course will prevail. Whether predictable through the reading of cookie trails or not, I can’t say.

Fishing around

In and other spirits, coffee, Current reading, Food, Names and Titles, New story, notes, or juice, Story material, Tea, Uncategorized, Wine on January 5, 2016 at 9:32 am

Published in nineteen sixty-three. Paper: foxed to the point of framing the black and white line drawings of oil cruets, fishes and lobsters dancing off happy plates. Not to mention the recipes. A Crabe Pouf, at a lowly one hundred and sixty-one calories, for instance. Or baked apple with a marshmallow stuffing. Or the two-page testimonial to Sucaryl in which the author – a dietician, according to the book – expounds on its stupendous virtues and assures her darling female readers she is not paid by the manufacturer to promote this wondrous adjunct to weight loss.

All this, in one of the books that find their way to the local Social Center as donations. For me, the real come-on wasn’t the title (500 nouvelles recettes pour maigrir) but the dietitian’s name. Of Basque origin, the name Behoteguy means “shelter for mares”, according to Google. Which is fascinating in and of itself.

So into the stewpot goes the name Behoteguy along with the typically sixties-style drawings and page layout. The recipes… What can I say. All signals turn red when someone starts the list of ingredients for a “Chinese” recipe with: 1 large can of bean sprouts. Ghost of Chicken Boiled in Welch’s Grape Jelly* – Begone!

The stewpot? The holding file, if you prefer, where assortments and oddments must collect so that a vague first outline of something new can emerge. The other story is quite finished but I have no time today to fiddle  with automatic features for page-setting.

Oh, and here is a line drawing showing a pineapple, a bottle of bubbly, a glass (with bubbles), a pear, a banana, an apple, cherries, strawberries… On the bottle, a label. It reads

Clic

quot

Poor Veuve Clicquot. To thee I raise my bowl of café au lait.  But the book inspires. Into the stewpot it goes.

 

*A classic one-time experiment, straight from my mother’s kitchen. For the uninformed: when boiled long and hard in water and grape jelly, chicken skin turns an astounding shade of… No time to dwell on finding the proper name for the shade. In fact, it may still be in need of invention.

at the tale end

In Uncategorized on January 4, 2016 at 9:43 am

the mind goes where it goes. In this instance, the combo is an unstable compound that required, for some reason, that I listen to a group called Peter, Paul and Mary sing Puff the Magic Dragon. Neither the song nor the singing group would mean a thing to the fictional character standing on the cusp of anger, fear and… something in Part 4 of the something I’ve been writing these past several months. However, mine is not to analyze, mine is to get the words lined up at that place where they produce a tiny puff of… something.

Of one thing I’m (almost) certain: the absurd current French debate on loss of nationality features somewhere in the mix (although in the story’s timeline, the character doesn’t know this debate is about to spread its ludicrous wings and cause a lot of flap-flapping). However, he would be aware of the Great Regional Debate – yet another vast re-engineering of internal administrative and budgetary responsibilities. A passing glance at someone’s professed eternal attachment to Picardie as her identity port of call may serve as the launching point for Pavel’s moment of zen.

Maybe. Endings are tricky. So are the tails on the beasts to which they’re attached. The end result of this one should produce something like this :

DSCN5055

Said Eletalha being yet another inhabitant of Professor Revillod’s Fabulous Almanach which may or may not be available in other languages than Portuguese

DSCN5057

***

And to all, the best possible first Monday in the latest of the new years.

 

 

Prior to the Crematorium or: those parts of living you’d like to do without

In Uncategorized on August 12, 2015 at 7:16 am

There’ll be more than enough time spent on grief, mourning and sorrow today. I’ve decided to spare myself the first part of the exercise where friends and family gather at the funerarium for the transfer to the casket with attendant pain for all except for the deceased (I suppose – if the deceased is traveling in a Bardo Thodol type journey, I don’t know that all the wailing from the living can do him much good). I’ll leave with another photographer around nine; we’ll pick up a few other people on the way to the crematorium in Albi.

Every country has its own variations on burial customs. In Canada, the viewing in funeral parlors involves a gathering of people inside a space in which an open casket displays the deceased’s remains, surrounded by flowery tributes. People used to escape the room by heading down to the smoking section where, as I recall, acrimonious exchanges often occurred.

Over here – in this town, at least – people gather outside the viewing rooms. These are small spaces in which two or three people at most can enter at one time to view the corpse displayed on a bed-like structure and with a bedroom-like coverlet covering the lower extremities.

My personal tastes don’t incline me to the snapping of funeral photos, least of all to close-up views of the corpse on display. However, friends sometimes ask me to perform this service for them, so I do. Personally, I prefer to remember people in their live condition but I understand others may want (or need) the evidence of the person’s decline as part of their own letting go.

So.

The surprise moment, relative to Jean’s death: after leaving the Volubilo office yesterday where others were finalizing the list of people still in need of notification, I ran into a young man. We had a contentious relationship, to put it mildly, back in the days where part of my job involved teaching him to understand the meaning of what he read. A relationship in which he threatened to bash my head in and/or blow up my place with me in it. He’d done one photo workshop with Jean, so I figured he should at least know about his death. He was saddened by the news, but grateful I’d told him. Thanked me, and shook my hand. This morning, I note he shared the posted news on his Facebook page.

So much for real-life. Story-wise… we’ll see what transpires this afternoon.

 

perky and cheerful need not apply

In Uncategorized on May 28, 2015 at 5:51 am

at this point, I’m so disgusted with the whole process I have to ask myself what ever possessed me to start writing in the first place. I feel like taking every single attempt at fiction I’ve done and throwing into the garbage.

I won’t, of course. The disgust extends way beyond the total mess of what the hell do I think I’m doing with this draft. One of those existential low points that show up way too often these days. Burn-out or something. Energy petering out because every damn little thing uses up so much of it for nothing.

Case in point: a meeting with a school Principal in two hours from now, concerning a father who could put his destructive impulses to work in real time. The son in need of protection but if you think the father’s going to let that happen, you’d better think some more before training as negotiator in hostage-type crises.

Never mind being tired about people settling arguments with machetes (then having to deal with their younger brothers or sisters). I’m also tired of kids burning cars as a past-time. Tired of their younger brothers stealing the money while their classmates and teachers stage a Race against Hunger – not that the classmates will win the race, but filching the money and blowing it on Doritos won’t do much for humanity either. I’m tired of putting a happy face on a bunch of crap and getting yeah-well type responses. What the hell, you know, that’s life, it’s all going to the dogs anyway the rich get richer, the ozone gets thinner etc and you can count on the media to keep you posted on the seventy million reasons why you should take your pills, and stay out of trouble.

Voilà. I won’t even call this A post to keep afloat. I’m tired. Period.

 

Meanwhile, back in the primordial ooze …

In Uncategorized on April 11, 2015 at 6:06 am

Proof – if any were still needed – that I belong to the recessive allele team of the clever monkeys: one of the headlines on this morning’s Nouvel Observateur. Whereby we who still run on basic systems such as this one learn Ms Hillary Clinton should announce herself as United States of America Presidential candidate Sunday at noon. Where? On Twitter.

It was nice knowing you folks. Keep those accounts updated and a close watch on your passwords.* Because, recessive or dominant, remember: for better and for much, much worse, you are one of the clever monkeys. Try not to be a cleverer monkey’s lunch? As best you can manage.

Cheers.

* not that it will do you any good, considering the cleverer monkeys out there. But it’s the same as brushing your teeth: something you do because, because it’s the right thing to do.