Fragments

Over the years, I have come to realize that my main interest was to find out about fictional or real characters through stories, stories in words, images, paintings, moving images. This is a vast domain and I'll be more able to define it after I understand my choices for this blog, which,probably, like all blogs, diaries, letters will end up being more about myself than anything else ! I mainly read in English but I'm more fluent in French as it is my mother tongue. I have not lived more than 7 years in a row in the same place or country since I left home at 18. That's why I have the feeling to be continuously jetlagged and I will eventually return where I belong. In the meantime, let's share and remember what is hardly perceptible in my life. Les petits riens de ma vie.

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Fragments

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    Empress Josephine by David, one of the most moving portrait of her, at new exhibit at L’Orangerie, Palais du Luxembourg, Paris for the 200th anniversary of her death. For Eugene, her son. She seemed to like ‘selfies’. 

    Curious to read about Vermeer’s paintings, I found this blog entry

    In the Smart Set from Drexel University

    Vermeer and the Threshold

    Considering the tension between concentration and self-awareness.

    They are among the most mysterious paintings. But it is very hard to say why. Nothing much happens in the paintings. People engage in simple tasks. A man and a woman sit at a table and speak. A woman smiles. A woman reads a letter. A girl looks at us over her left shoulder. A woman sews. A woman pours some milk out of a jug. That’s it. One task, one episode, one moment in each painting. 

    Vermeer used various painterly tricks to make these moments – these mundane tasks – look special. He expended a great deal of time and energy capturing the effects of light. He studied the way light comes in through a window, bathing a room. He seems to have painted most of his pictures in one or two rooms in his own home. He knew that light well. He analyzed that light, meditated on it. Using that light, he projected images through a camera obscura and probably through other kinds of lenses and mirrors available in 17th-century Holland. This allowed Vermeer to concentrate on every sparkle, shine and glimmer. He concocted different methods for reproducing those glimmers and shines. Sometimes he would render an object, like a knob or finial, simply as an effect of light. That’s to say, we only know the object is there because of how Vermeer painted the light shining upon it.

    natgeofound:

    Portrait of an Ojibway, or Chippewa Indian girl in 1907.
    Photograph by Roland W. Reed, National Geographic

    Je suis fascinée par tant de beauté /so much beauty in one shot, I am in awe!

    Aqua Cycling or the art of making friends in Paris

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    The good life in Paris, aqua cycling for the body and the mind                                    

                                          VELO=LOVE 

    A new French fitness craze, aqua cycling

    Water was not my element, but I was desperately looking for a gym in Paris upon my return from Canada and I finally found it. Here’s an extract from my story published in http://www.myfrenchlife.org/

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    There is a saying in French that is humorously on topic for the circumstance: ‘Il ne faut jamais dire fontaine je ne boirai pas de ton eau’ (in English it’s essentially ‘never say never’). So, I purchased the Groupon coupon and took the plunge (excuse the pun).

    This is how, on a chilly day of early December, I ended up exercising on a bike in a brand-new swimming pool. All you need is a bathing suit and a fair amount of motivation – which I had. The rest went beyond my expectations.

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    For once, an interesting analysis, about the differences between French and Americans on the subject of love. Not necessarily filled with clichés.

    theparisreview:

    What can the French teach Americans about sex? Susannah Hunnewell attends a panel on “The Art of Sex and Seduction.”

    • Cusset once assigned Woman Destroyed, the novella by Simone de Beauvoir, in a class at Yale. The diary of a woman who discovers her husband of twenty years has been unfaithful, it records a gradual nervous breakdown. Cusset was surprised by her American students’ reaction. “They thought she whined too much. They didn’t understand that you can be broken by love.” Love as the loss of control—whether it brings ecstasy or devastation, within or without marriage—is a French ideal. Total surrender is too much for an American. We prefer to check boxes for the ideal mate.

    To my friend Marcia

    In this highly connected world, it took me 4 months to learn that my friend Marcia had died while scuba diving off the Sidney coast on 7 October 2013.

    In the meantime, I was busy taking care of myself. That’s when the renovation works of the sheds of my house in the south of France started. I was sharing my time between the south and Paris. I had dentist’s appointments. Plenty. I was also busy saving my marriage.

    In November our former aerobics instructor in Kuala Lumpur passed away and I left a message on facebook to Marcia, who did not answer, it was strange she did not react. I assumed she had kept her account but was not logging in anymore. Some people do that. I was used, since the time I had left KL not to chat too often with her, 2 or 3 times a year, each time there were great conversations, you could feel the love, respect and friendship were present, each time we would promise each other that would be the year of our reunion. I knew Sam her husband and I had met quickly with 2 of her 3 adult children, Lissa, and Andrew when in KL between 2000 and 2004. But I am not surprised that they did not try to let me know, 9 years had passed since we had met in Malaysia, they might not even have known Marcia and I had not stopped being friends.

    So yesterday, I thought this silence was too awkward, too heavy, not acceptable. It occurred to me I should visit her facebook page first before trying to email her or anything. Maybe I missed a post or some photos. What I saw , I had not in the least expected it : messages of sympathy and condolences, because she had died on 7 October 2013, while diving one morning off the Sidney coast in Australia. 

    Ironically, the news took more time to reach me than if they had been ship mailed in the 18th century from Australia to Europe. 

    People take for granted nowadays that we get the right piece of information instantaneously and in bulks because it has been handed over to the virtual world supposed to be fast, inescapable and reliable. You don’t need to address and inform people personally, specially in those globalized times.

    Well proof here that it doesn’t work this way necessarily. I had unchecked as recommended and asked by most friends, the notifications concerning them on facebook. Hence I was not seeing on my wall the posts others were writing on her page. Obviously I was not a peep either.

    Today I have to deal with my sorrow and the shock of my friend’s violent accidental death. 

    I am also thinking that one should never postpone to visit a friend. It should always be the right time before too late. I wish I were a better friend. Here’s to you Marcia.

    http://www.thephuketnews.com/phuket-instructor-dies-in-diving-accident

    Photo composition of 2 new books and a Waterstones bag  in my hotel room in London :

    1 ‘The Goldfinch’ by Donna Tartt  after a friend’s recommendation and her participation in a French TV show (‘La Grande Librairie’ on France5 hosted by excellent François Busnel).

    2 ‘Priscilla’ by Nicholas Shakespeare, reviews are mixed on Goodreads but it’s about WW2, France and a daring English woman and I had just read an interesting enough review by Alan Riding while in the plane in The New York Times 

    The bag reads : a good book will you keep fascinated for days, a good bookshop for your whole life

    I could not agree more !

    Hilarious ad in the French quality daily paper Le Monde that says :

    'Mister President, don't take your scooter next time, rent a Sixt car instead, they have tinted windows.' 

    Fragments turned 4 today! 

    This post in The Guardian (forget the selfies, show us your shelfies) was very very tempting …I wanted to contribute too, but I quickly found that, like all humans/selfies, book shelves were different and alike and boring, my shelves are a blend of French and English books, mirrors of my life in reading, so the content, in my opinion, was far more interesting than its outlook, hence my reluctance … until today as I was walking out of the magnificent glass-roofed Vivienne Gallery in the 2nd district of Paris, I saw these books, displayed in the window of an old second-hand bookshop and the 3 little pigs statuettes squeezed in between the piles, it was hilarious, and I thought it was the best shelfie I could take, if I may call it so, as it is MY pic but not MY shelf ! 

    The book I want for Christmas (for example)

    'Speaking for Themselves : The Personal Letters of the Churchills' by Mary Soares

    I am in the mood for reading about long-lasting love 

    “My darling Clemmie, in your letter from Madras you wrote some words very dear to me, about having enriched your life. I cannot tell you what pleasure this gave me, because I always feel so overwhelmingly in your debt, if there can be accounts in love…What it has been to me to live all these years in your heart and companionship no phrases can convey.”
    “My darling Clemmie, in your letter from Madras you wrote some words very dear to me, about having enriched your life. I cannot tell you what pleasure this gave me, because I always feel so overwhelmingly in your debt, if there can be accounts in love…What it has been to me to live all these years in your heart and companionship no phrases can convey.”

    Wednesday 6 November 2013, Institute of Astrophysics of Paris, with Hubert Reeves, my piece reporting the visit with students of Alliance Francaise Paris, both in French and English 

    I’ve often wondered why Paris is one of the world’s most visited cities and why it holds such a fascination for tourists – a fascination I’ve continued to share even while living here.

    Because I was permanently confused, dissatisfied, unhappy, tormented by inadequacy, driven by wanting towards every kind of impossible future, the attitude of mind described by ‘tolerantly amused eyes’ was years away from me. I don’t think I really saw people then, except as appendages to my needs. It’s only now, looking back, that I understood, but at the time I lived in a brilliantly lit haze, shifting and flickering according to my changing desires. Of course, that is only a description of being young.

    http://www.theguardian.com/books/2013/nov/18/doris-lessing-dies-quotes-own-words

    Bravo Doris Lessing !

    'Je vis, je parle, je rêve en français'

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    Celebration of 130th anniversary of Alliance Française in Paris

    Here’s the link to my piece about it in www.myfrenchlife.org 

    It was a chilly evening in Paris, but inside La Coupole on 10 October, the warmth and cheerful welcome were anything but autumnal.

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    Eleanor Catton is only 28 and her 800-page second book is a masterpiece. English-speaking literature is dense and rich, there are so many authors to read and discover that I feel privileged to be able to read in this language without having to wait for their translation in French.

                             image on goodreads

    In The Guardian

    Booker prize: Eleanor Catton becomes youngest winner for The Luminaries

    Judges praise 832 ‘extraordinary’ pages of epic novel that New Zealander began writing when she was 25

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