mardi 19 octobre 2010

The Price of Happiness in New York

"Being happy in Paris implies knowing its emergency exits" said Sophie to conclude one of her first posts here in The Bridge.

In contrast I'd say that for being happy or at least not insane in New York it'd mean filtering out all the "noise", and I mean tons of it that you undoubtedly will encounter in the city mixed with plenty of other unpleasant things. And by "noise" I don't mean exclusively the honking of the million vehicles or the loud high pitch sound of the sirens coming out from emergency vehicles or the police. Noise is also all that movement that you don't understand, that revolves around you like a swarm. You don't know what purpose it serves or where it leads you to. You only know it's conspicuous and threatens to swallow you in its whirl.

Just for surviving you need to do the filtering. The opportunities for trying to do just that really abound: you only need to have a very good disposition to learn all what it takes to block out the things that doesn't fit well with your way of seeing the world. In fact it helps if you don't have any particular way of seeing it. With practice and raising the tolerance bar you'd get accustomed to anything.

One thing worries me though. It's the risk of becoming too insensitive to what's happening around me or maybe worst, the risk of becoming a hypocrite capable of experiencing sublime feelings for certain things and at the same time being dead and deaf to others that are supposed to move me or at least have feelings for them.

Again, trying to find the perfect balance is perhaps the key to succeed not only in life but in everything indeed. Did Sophie suggest something like that as well, in her previous post? I don't really remember with clarity but if not, I'm very close to it, I think. I only have to scroll down the bar on the right side to re-read...

Well, you're going to forgive me but in the process of re-reading Sophie's post there's something in there that doesn't feel quite right for me and I can't help not commenting on it. She beats herself up a little bit for 'deserting' these pages for a little time; breaking the routine according to her is bad...

And I don't agree: that's it. The general purpose of this bridge is overall to reflect life as it is in any part of the world where we find ourselves. Having fun doing it is also a major factor of the experience. But here, I prefer to bring the words of Tavi Gevinson, a precocious teenager of 14 years old (that we both, Sophie and I, know quite well) who at her tender age has the wisdom to inspire not only me or Penelope Trunk (another one of my idols) but a legion of 50,000 more other people who are her readers.

Look Sophie what she says in this post when she reasons why she's not going to write very often due to her multiple obligations in school and elsewhere: "My policy on being my own boss for this blog is that I don't post if I don't feel like it. It feels contrived and boring and chore-like, and my other policy is that I'll stop once this feels like a chore. So posts are about to get rather spotty". 

That should be enough to make my point... It's fair to say that I sufficiently agree with Tavi and let's not forget we were talking about those filters.  

In order to live a peaceful life in New York you have to be blind to a lot of things. In reality, you have to shut down most of your senses, the smell in particular. In some places is either the marijuana smoke that pervade the streets or the sewage that invade your nostrils. 

It's your choice though. If you decide to see the bad things there are a million of them, the city turns insupportable and you have to leave if you want to live... 

But there are plenty of other options that even though entail risks like the ones mentioned before, they could provide the opportunity to live a pleasant life in the big Metropolis. 

If you choose that late one, then you'd better start living in a state of altered consciousness where you feel only those things you want to feel. One of the better ways you could use to get there it's music, it's through art, and like this last Thursday October the 13th you have to make some sacrifices. It was the Season opener of the Trinity Church Choir in Wall Street (what a paradox: greed and goodness or good and evil, all in the same street!).

It was raining that day. No, no,  it was pouring..., it could had been very cold too for the beginning of Autumn, but nobody was caring. In such high states of the brain where the expectations of rewards are running very high, people didn't/don't feel anything. 

The choir, the soloists, the musicians of the orchestra with their conductor didn't leave room for any disappointments.

For those of you who are brave enough, this is the whole concert...

mardi 12 octobre 2010

Brigitte, Monteverdi, Nessie and me.

Tuesday, October 12th 2o1o

Human Beings are tough little creatures, they are.

Of course, they look shabby, because they're easily bruised and torn and their hair gets messy if they don't take care of it.
They endure pain if they break, they endure pain when they mend, they would not even notice the difference if they did not, from time to time, encounter Joy.
Joy is the rare treat they're given to make them forget about that pain but again: joy is not that easy to handle, even if you're lucky enough to get loads of it. As long as you've met its nemesis in sadness or deception you're bound to admit it.
After all, when you're shaken by a bad piece of news, you're not far from the state your in after a joyfull announcement: you're shaken anyway.

Being well is the no-feel's-land inbetween, the temperature your skin does not even notice, the straight line running through the sinusoidal wave of ups and downs that you could even mistake for the main pattern if you look at it from a distance. But if you summarize the lot, Humans spend more time exhausting themselves with abnormally strong good and bad feelings than being simply, quietly 'well'. They spend more time trotting on the elbows than resting at the middle-junction.

And the amazing bit is that they survive! Tough they are, indeed!

All this long and odd incipit comes to highlight that we are all here today, me writing it, you reading it, because of this incredible ability to survive and, more important, because we've all been able to use it well and manage so far.

I hope you will accept my congratulations for this remarkable achievement. Hurray!

I have the unpleasant feeling though, that i've deserted these pages for ages and the truth is: i have indeed. Breaking a routine, even once, even for a short time, is as bad as deserting. This is why i intend to apologize for not having been 'just well', nor at least 'well enough' to be able to keep 'joy' and 'pain' on perfect balance and give the illusion of this straight line mentioned earlier.
My apology will therefore take the shape of Nessie: the bridges-like figure of a giant sea-monster, emerging triumphantly from the gleaming surface of a Scottish Loch. The upper part of the sinusoidal close-up on the well-being line. The joyfull part!

I'm afraid this will not include the visit of the Museum i had intended to see on the Second of October, because Bad Luck has forbidden me to put a foot in it on opening hours so far! The plan was to take Axelle and Erwann along to visit Gustave Moreau and to have dinner afterwards before meeting a couple of friends in the middle of Paris, in order to enjoy the multiple and drinkable advantages of a Nuit Blanche in Paris. It didn't go as planned at all, because we found ourselves getting lost on the way to the museum: it sounds very exciting here, you could picture us lost in the urban jurassic-jungle surrounded by unfriendly dino-cars and ptero-bikes, but we just got the address wrong and arrived when they were closing the doors! We ended up visiting an odd church-mise-en-abyme, and stopped for a Coke, a Grog and a Lemon Juice, followed by a Curry in a Thai restaurant and even more Grogs...

I wanted to go back to Gustave the next day, but i was ill, and then on Monday but didn't find the courage, then on Tuesday but it was closed, then Wedne...well, you got the idea...

Never mind: i've done and seen much, much better (easy to compare when i actually do not even know what Gustave Moreau's Museum is worth, but allow me the enthusiasm)! Let's put aside the private part of the 'joy' revolving aroud a fixed point now somewhere in the north and focus on the Parisian fat crumbles of excitingness taking us up to the 8th of the month, the day of the first Concert of the Musical Season!

My favourite seat in my favourite little church. It could have been enough to make my evening, had the concert been of poor quality.

But no such luck for my inner feel-o-meter which eventually exploded when the ten united voices of the Medieval Music Ensemble Discantus led by Brigitte Lesne produced, a cappella, the purest interpretation of the works of Gilles de Binchois i had ever heard.

But would all this pleasure have had a third of its impact had i not been invited by a Mary-Poppinsomaniac new friend to go, the following day, to the rehearsal of some Monteverdi she was directing?

Would it have had half of the impact had i not been asked to take a part in the adventure?

Would it have had a tenth of the impact had i not spent all the week-end focusing on this musical project whilst getting so many kind and affectionate messages on my mobile?

Probably not.

I then do hope you enjoyed the company of Nessie, because you can easily imagine how relieving it can be to count on such a highly arched friend, such a higly pitched joy that it can make you forget that the whole Nessie, especially because of its deeply immerged bits, can be a monter as well, and could be that monster mostly and in the same time, if the water-line was not there to make it look friendly and mysterious...

I'd love to use Nessie as a bridge. And i promise you'll know everything about Gustave Moreau some day.

mercredi 6 octobre 2010

She said Himmelweg

- Do you think it's too late for you to book a ticket for Himmelweg?

That was the question Sophie asked me in a chat we had last Friday night that set all the wheels in motion for the making of this post.
It was her way to tell me where I should go this past Saturday 2 of October. It would also provide the material to feed the entry of The Bridge this week. I proposed a total of 4 places I could go as you may know for my comment in Sophie's Rambling post in order to match the 4 she herself handed out to me so I could pick where she in turn should go.

Himmelweg is a German word (as I found out because my German is limited to less than 20 words) that stands for “Way to Heaven” in English. It was how they named the play I went to see at Repertorio Español.

Strange thing though because Repertorio Español specializes only in performances in Spanish from authors of Spain or Latin America. It turned out that the author of Himmelweg is a Spaniard whose work was translated into English and have had such a big success in their performances around the world and the United States that Repertorio decided not to take risks and to present it there anyway in their English version.

A very small and cozy place is Repertorio Español. You can almost touch the actors and feel their breath as they move around you or on the platform. That makes really special the special effects, the lights, the voices you hear with great clarity and the sounds, but remarkably the sound of “the train”. Oh!, you can’t get a more intimate atmosphere: they, the performers, stare and shout at you as if you were part of the play and you feel like you’re not a spectator but you’re in the middle of everything, trembling and shaking with them; becoming part of what’s going on the stage...

And maybe because of all that, the characteristics of the theater, or perhaps because of the quality of the actors and actresses or just because the play was so powerful and touching two days after watching it has not been enough time to process all the angles, the ideas and the thoughts the performance had generated in myself.

Because the play easily transforms itself in a sort of Chinese box with various levels or layers of interpretations and meanings. It’s theater in the theater what I saw.
The piece takes place in the woods or what remains of those woods -Autumn leaves scattered on the floor, like ghosts recreating what once was a fake city built by the German people during the Nazi era in order to deceive the observers about the real treatment received by the Jews in the concentrations camps.

Deceiving it’s an art and the tricky part is that you need the collaboration of the people you’d ultimately harm. The weapons, the tactics are different, much more sophisticated but equally effective. They need the Jews in order to succeed with their plot, to make their story credible. Teaching them how to do it was not sufficient but rehearsing, practicing until they could master the lie and can get away with it. The Pandora Box, a theater class: words mean nothing without the appropriate gestures.

That’s the scenario where everything plays out and all the paradoxes and contradictions of existence arise: With the players today that were just simply reminders, a glimpse of all the afflictions the real actors of the past must have endured, those who played with their lives a real drama of survival both as individuals or as part of a group.
Was it good or bad to help trying to save themselves? In the end it didn’t matter. They’d ended up the same way and we in the distant future for a moment could just live their present, being witnesses and sufferers of their sufferings and struggles for unintentionally attracting the intolerance and the hatred of other people who didn't like them.

The Way to Heaven is the reenactment, the recreation of the suffering of all human beings.
I must say: it was really painful, almost unbearable. That little actress, that little girl like another Anna Frank, her enchanting chant is still inside my head!

Somehow and for more than a couple of days I'm not longer myself but a reflexion of all the pain they suffered as if I were/was one of them...

samedi 2 octobre 2010

Un Bon Rhume

The title translates as 'a good cold'.
In what way a cold could be any 'good'?!

If you are wondering, i suggest you take a closer look to it from my (maybe biased) point of view.

A cold is mostly unpleasant, denying it would be foolish: running nose, watering eyes, headaches, constant drowsiness, noisy sneezing, all this would really take all the fun from the cold, if it were not compensated by: The GROG!

If you don't know what a Grog is (which i highly doubt, at least from my side of The Bridge, Frenchies are known to be alcoholics), wikipedia has a nice article on the topic.

Yesterday afternoon, Axelle and i met in a place i will not name yet (for i will write a long, long post about it some day), planning to have a hot chocolate and a little chat. We were not in the mood for hot chocolates though, and had a tea and a banana syrup instead (careful: not mixed! one drink each: i would not like to try such a mixture!). After a while, as we were both complaining about our health (Frenchies love doing that too) and translating some Purcell, the wonderful idea hit us 'ooh, i'd fancy a good hot Grog, what do you think?'

Two Grogs for the Ladies.
After having emptied half of a bottle of honey over the steaming rum and lemon, we said cheers in a very Piratish way and brought the mugs to our mouths.

I immediately stared at Axelle half expecting to see her covered in scales, as i thought that maybe the Grog was not a Grog at all, but rather some potion brewed to turn people into dragons or salamanders, and i can tell she was looking at me in the exact same way.
There was some more Piratish after that, as we were both swearing like old sea dogs, but at least our eyes were no longer watering because of a nasty virus.

Un Bon Rhume? Definitely. Grogs are worth getting your nose red for. And i just realised how the french word for Rum (Rhum) and rhume (cold) looked extraordinarily alike!

Flattr this