Leaf

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Friday, August 23, 2013

Fooling Around a Bit Longer

I will soon be back in action with a series of new articles:

Mirrors, Miracles, Full Moons will be some of the next topics, all accompanied by nice images!

In the meanwhile, be patient and wait till I'm done fooling around!

I wish everybody a nice time vacationing, holidaying, or whatever you are up to.


Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Art of Writing Poetry

2004
Although it is believed, nowadays to be dead, obsolete, and hard to get, poetry represents one of the last vestiges of a language that is not yet hyperfast, superficial, and subjected to the laws of technology.
Good poetry, at least.

So how to make good poetry?

First of all, it is necessary to understand that any talented writer will read more than he writes. Many writers tend to say, "I don't read because I don't want to be influenced". As a consequence, their poetry is only about themselves; it becomes the expression of an ego that, in all sincerity, no one probably cares about with the exception of a parent or two, and the ones who wrote it.

Poetry should represent the quintessence of life and, in so doing, it should link the poet to the universe entire. A personal experience will be of interest only if it relate to a wider dimension in which each of us can feel participant.

Avoid stereotypes and cliches. So many poems often resemble in their language, styles and figures of speech the poems of other iconic poets. The result is usually a rough copy, highly imperfect, of something that has already been written in a much better fashion by the most talented poets in human history.

Always carry a notebook with you.
The Moleskine brand can be a very good choice, although this is a very personal statement. Although excessively expensive, their lack of frills and unnecessary drawings and decorations help you get straight to the point.
Ideas pop up our mind any moment; we don't want some good inspiration to take flight because we had nothing to write it on when it came up.

Stop being always available!
Cut off a little moment for yourself everyday, one in which you will turn your cell phone off and plunge into your thoughts. This is the only way to be deeply connected with yourself and with the Universe.

Read aloud what you wrote.
Poetry was born to be read aloud and live in front of an audience.
Reading aloud will help you understand what needs to be changed, rephrased, or reworked. Remember, rhythm, patterns, assonances, rhymes, consonances, and other kinds of similar effects can be better "felt" if read aloud.
Sharing with others might definitely give you some useful feedback.

Any additional tips you would like to share?

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Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Monkey Business

Whenever there is any doubt, there is no doubt.

Robert DeNiro in Ronin (1998) 


No matter what your field is, the risk of being scammed always represents a consistent possibility.
Rates grow in such activities as acting, singing and the performing arts in general.
How easy it is to take advantage of people when their sight is blurred by the inebriating fumes of dreams.

It might happen, then, that along the path we will meet people who will make an impression on us for their alleged expertise, their networks and connections, their ambitions and plans. They will convince us that our skills are unique and that they need to be properly employed. These people, often disguising their fraud under big names, will offer us sponsorship, will promise us fame and the possibility to join the big shots. All they want from us is a symbolic token to prove our bona fide: money. And after we've been brainwashed by all their promises of fame and wealth, their absurdest requests will sound perfectly logical.

We're naive.
Yet, we're no idiots: sooner or later, they will show themselves for who they really are. We will realize that something makes no sense. We will see that their behaviour lacks professionalism, and that an artificial and well-designed scheme hides behind a nice facade in Art Deco' style.
They're very well organized and, as soon as they smell you might no longer be buying it, here comes the long-awaited reward: an audition, maybe a modest sum of money - a bait for you, an investment for them - maybe their production company's stocks, maybe your name on a newspaper article or a billboard.
And back we fall into the pit, until we realize that the company is not part of any stock market, that the articles were never written by a journalist, and that anyone can put their own name on a billboard; you just need to pay.

Old rules, although cliched, still retain a lot of wisdom: when it's too good to be true, it's simply not true.


Have you ever been scammed?
Can you share?

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Thursday, June 13, 2013

Ciao

Leaving is to die a bit.

Edmond Haracourt



An unidentified, sometimes imperceptible, 
sometimes heart-piercing, feeling of void 
fills the moment we say
A Moment Before Goodbye - Copyright © Miguel Darco
 goodbye.

The hours and minutes before leaving are spent wishing we had parted already. Yes. An intense discomfort of the heart makes us wish we wouldn't have to go through it; it makes us wish we could be yellow enough not to have to face all that, and it makes us wish we could run off and hide someplace. 
We cannot. 

It hurts. 

The hours before are lived like a ritual, as if we were headed for the gallows, as if we knew that what we have now will never be again. It might not be the last time we see the person or the place we are leaving, but they will not be the same. Neither will we. 
A missing tree will make all the difference. A whiter hair will change everything because they are expressions of deeper events in the geology of our soul and of the place's soul.



I was weeping because Richard Parker left me so unceremoniously. 
It broke my heart. [...]
After all we had been through, it didn't even look back.[...]
I suppose in the end, the whole of life becomes an act of letting go. 

But what always hurts the most is not taking a moment to say goodbye.
I know Richard Parker's a tiger, but I wish I had said, "It's over. We survived. Thank you for saving my life. I love you, Richard Parker. You'll always be with me. May God be with you."

Life of Pi  

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Monday, May 20, 2013

Happy Butcher's Day

A statue dedicated to Dollard des Ormeaux, Montreal
Imagine travelling to Chile and discovering that a national holiday is being dedicated to Augusto Pinochet; or to Peru, and Francisco Pizarro is a national hero. Imagine Argentina celebrating dictator Jorge Videla, or Italy Mussolini, or Great Britain Jack the Ripper, or America Charles Manson.

It happens in Canada. Let me rephrase it: it happens in Quebec.
Today, May 20th, is Victoria Day, a day to celebrate Queen Victoria, in all the Commonwealth states.
Except Quebec. Quebec calls it Patriots' Day. It's legitimate, one might say: they celebrate the patriots that, once upon a time, fought against the British Empire.
What few people know outside of Quebec is that until 2003, this same day was dedicated to a man, a colonist and soldier, known by the name of Dollard des Ormeaux.
Dollard des Ormeaux, according to some recent theories and more reliable historical studies, led ambushes and expeditions with the intentions of massacring Iroquis in order to steal their furs and take possession of their territories.

His death, or at least one of the recounts of his death (and the only one I will offer due to its entertaining flavour), occurred during the Battle of Long Sault. Kept under siege in their fort by a large group of pissed Iroquois, Dollard and most of his men were killed by a keg of gunpowder thrown by one of them towards the Iroquois lines. The grenade never made it over the fort walls and bounced back to Dollard, exploding right where it came from: an inglorious end that tastes of Looney Tunes and Wile E. Coyote!

Dollard des Ormeaux is nowadays a small town on the Island of Montreal. A statue dedicated to this French martyr and his bloody missions was erected and stands high and proud in LaFontaine Park, one of the most important parks in Montreal. Dollard des Ormeaux, although Dollard Day has been removed, is still remembered as a hero, martyr, benefactor and figure of selfless honour.

I'd rather call him a butcher and erect a statue in honour of the First Nations and all those native American populations who fell victims to the greed, violence and morbid thirst for blood of the European colonists.

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Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Actress Aurore Fagnen



This week features an interview to French actress Aurore Fagnen, actress and acting student at The Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute.

Aurore Fagnen has made a long way from a small village in the south of France to here in NYC.
After completing a Master Degree in Fashion & Luxury at SKEMA Business School in Sophia Antipolis France, she decided to pursue her dream of acting in NYC. And the dream is coming true! Right upon graduating from the Lee Strasberg Institute, she was cast for a supporting role in "I Was There", an independent feature film. She followed on short films, music videos, funny commercials like "Threadmatchers" and "The Story of Lola", and signed with a production company called SWB Films. 
Aurore wrapped a short film to be submitted to a Film Festival this coming June at Clearview Chelsea Cinemas in Manhattan, New York, and did the V.O in French for an international commercial called "I Love Kayak" for KAYAK.COM.

1) Are you a different actress and person after studying Method acting?
Yes. Method acting leads to an endless exploration of yourself to bring life to another human being. I had to learn to fully accept myself, which I'm still doing today. It also taught me how you need to trust your guts and listen. That, especially, is one of the most important things I learned in acting: to really listen. The Method taught me that it's not about being right, but truthful.
In the end, I developed my own personal method based on what works for me. It certainly changed the way I see life and how I appreciate the little things of everyday.

2) What makes you want to act? I want to act because, surprisingly, this is when I feel more honest with myself. I feel fully alive and I know I can dig deeper into life through acting. I love the fact that it is an endless discovery where I play like a little girl and realize how complex and fascinating human beings are! Thanks to acting I have a no-routine life where I'm constantly trying to figure things out.
Acting is for me a means to both fully express myself through the characters and to express the characters through myself.
I love acting for what it gives to people and for how universal it is. Anybody can identify with the story you tell.

3) What is the most challenging task you have undertaken in terms of acting technique (laughing on cue, crying on cue, expressing anger, joy...)? Anger… I mean real anger.  

4) Why? It's a complex and personal feeling that I never really got to explore in my characters. But I'd be thrilled to do it and see what comes out!

4) Do you "feel" when you're acting?  
I do, I have feelings, I feel the other actor, I feel alive… Actually I don't like the idea to think I "feel" something because it makes me think about what I feel or what I'm supposed to feel at this very moment; that's when I'm already out of it. I like to say I "live" rather than "feel" when I'm acting.

6) Should a character fit your personality for you to pick a role, or should she be the opposite of who you are?
That's not really what I think about when I pick a role. I usually let my instinct guide me. It tells me right away when I'm connected with a specific character for whatever reason, so I just have to follow the impulse that makes me want to understand her. Like when you meet someone and you immediately feel intrigued and you want to learn more about this person. I do the same with my characters. So, if I'm interested in a particular character, it doesn't matter at the end if we are alike or not.

7) Should an actor read and study a lot?  I think it's essential for an actor to be constantly curious about anything, not just acting. An actor needs to expand and put in question his knowledge and accept to be ignorant or wrong. It's actually good to be wrong. Being wrong means you're evolving. Actors should study and, more importantly, put into practice what they are learning and figure out what's working for them.

8) What's the difference between an actor and someone who's not?
In my case, I'd say that as an actor I study life. As a non actor I live my life.

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Thursday, April 25, 2013

Being Jim Carrey

"Man, you look like Jim Carrey!".
"Wow, you're so like Jim Carrey!"
"That's a Jim Carrey face!"

All of those who like making faces must have been told, at least once or twice in their life, that they look like Jim Carrey. There are those, instead, who go beyond simply making faces: they build their whole personality around it.  
They spend hours in front of the mirror. They observe themselves and study every single facial line they have. Then, they decide which ones are assets and which ones are just and simply wrinkles.

So, the DeNiro type will gather most of their lines on their forehead and between their eyebrows. The Eastwood type works off frowns and crow's feet. Should we even discuss Jack Nicholson's sharky eyebrows?
There's, then, the Jim Carrey type. The Jim Carrey type gathers the DeNiro, the Clint Eastwood, the Jack Nicholson, the James Dean types and all the other known types, either famous or unknown.

If making faces, either for entertaining purposes or for the mere sake of it, has always been your cup of tea, you must find it particularly annoying to be told "You look like Jim Carrey".

You can try lifting your eyebrow looking sideways as you do: Jim Carrey has done that in The Mask.
Try smiling and stretching the corners of your mouth into a sideline, propping your upper neck slightly forward: that's Jim Carrey in Ace Ventura.
Raise the corners of your eyebrows and turn up your scleras pretending you're frozen-dead: ok, that's Jack Nicholson in The Shining, I'll give you that.
Wrap tape around your face: that's Jim Carrey in Yes Man!
Enhance a relief smile while peeing: Jim Carrey did that in Dumb and Dumber.
Pretend throwing up after you saw something gross or disgusting: again Jim Carrey in Dumb and Dumber.
Mouth a conversation on the phone: Jim Carrey in Yes Man!
Hide your arms into your T-shirt sleeves: Jim Carrey.
Overlap someone who's talking to you: Jim Carrey.
Jim Carrey Jim Carrey Jim Carrey.

No matter what face you make: you will always, always, always look like Jim Carrey.
Whatever face you come up with, Jim Carrey made it first.

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Thursday, April 4, 2013

The Judge Within

The Scarlet Letter
Nobody, at some point in life, is spared lying on the bottom of the barrel.
Nobody is saved from reaching their lowest ever moral level. Yet, this won't satisfy the humorous side of Fate. The Moirai will have us trapped not only into the basest of all deeds for men of our ranks, but also the one we have always criticised others for.

Although we all are to some degree, it's good to try not to be judgmental in life.
But it is absolutely necessary that we do so in Art.
When acting and writing, it is important for us to know where we stand before we decide to remain neutral.
That becomes true especially if we're playing or writing about characters, whose psychological and behavioural nature is extremely contradictory. We are then forced to stand in a different pair of shoes and, to some extent, convince ourselves that the character's thought is our thought. The quest for perfection requires that we find a logical spot within ourselves for that conception which happens to be so conflictual with our morals.

We must be that killer. We must be that liar and we must take revenge.

Whether we like it or not, we must find a way to make that character trait a part of ourselves. As we rummage, we might even discover, to our surprise, that the profound grudge we had often criticised others for was indeed there, inside of us. That profound crave for vengeance has always pulsed within us, buried under stacks of dusty rainbows and lemon candies, shaking and whirling like boiling magma, to just flow out and give our characters real life.

When that happens, it is impossible not to learn this important lessons:

Snobbery, at best, will kill our art; at worst, it will make it mediocre.   

 
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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Blogging

Blogging gave many of us the chance to say what we wanted to say. We can't publish a book, although some of us actually can and did; so, we blog. And we actually do have an audience.

When we get fifty or sixty people visiting our blog every day, when our posts are read by four or five-hundred people from all over the world, that's actually an audience, isn't it? And an awfully large one if we consider that, after all, we're no Dan Brown, no Ken Follett, no Don DeLillo, at least for now.

Why do we blog? Are our posts linked the one with the other? Blogger advertises the possibility of making our blog into a book. Would that book contain a selection of articles casually stitched together, with no apparent connection, or is there a thread that ties them? Are they the continuous flow of our thoughts, with digressions, breaks and intermissions, but each of them taking one and the same direction? Or maybe they are an association experiment? Maybe they are the random put-into-thought of scattered emotions, maybe a way to tackle our everyday boredom... Maybe - and this is the most tantalizing idea of all - there is a higher scope that transcends the act of blogging itself?

What is it?
Why do we blog?
Would you like to share?   

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Friday, February 8, 2013

The Dragon's Echo

2005
On the last day of the Year of the Dragon, the impression is that the Dragon will still be around for a while.
He will be present in the form of memories which characterized the year that is coming to an end. He will not be visible, but perceivable. The Snake will divert our focus, but the thundering echo of the Dragon's voice will still be heard by many of us. By me, forever.

The following are sentences and quotations I heard around me during this Year of the Dragon. Those who pronounced them will be kept anonymous. They are not famous people, not writers, not actors, not poets. They are people who are affected by the joys and sorrows of daily life, by unexpected events, by moments of discomfort and of sudden happiness.



It's raining in my heart.
--
  I wish we could all die the same day, the same second, next to each other.
--
I have blamed God many times, I can say it has become my form of religion.
--
Only the unintelligent and the non progressive will never change.
 --
The Yogi is always happy, he will accept everything and see beauty everywhere.
 --
I am needed home and home is needed in me.
 --
Feeling lonely means you're needing something human.
 --
Be a ductile rock, a flexible oak. It is very human, and sexy, and good.

He waited to see you one last time before he was gone. 
 --
It's a memory that fills my eyes with tears, which I only find in the heaven of Remembrance, and that explodes within me during certain unpredicted moments of my life. 
 --
The bitter and sadder sides of life enhance and magnify the beautiful ones.
 --
We understood everything, and forever.
 --
 I want to have a dream, too.
--
I love you.


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Saturday, February 2, 2013

Lonely Hearts

2013
My heart is 
the most tormented country of all.  

Giuseppe Ungaretti - August 27, 1916



I once read that we can die from heartache.

The Buddhists believe that life is suffering.
Isn't it loneliness too?
We share profound fragments of our existence with persons who are very close to us. Yet, the moment arrives when we can no longer postpone coming to terms with the zany whirls and twirls of Fate. As it happens, we realize that we are alone in the task; we must be alone. We must be lonely.

Morpheus tells Neo in The Matrix, "I can only show you the door. You're the one that has to walk through it."
Pink Floyd sing, "We are two lost souls swimming in a fish bowl";
Dean Moriarty, in Jack Kerouac's On the Road,  "ragged in a moth-eaten overcoat he brought specially for the freezing temperatures of the East, walked off alone, and the last I saw of him he rounded the corner of Seventh Avenue, eyes on the street ahead, and bent to it again".

Regardless of who is standing by our side, the Truth must be faced through no intermediaries. We can be sustained by the thought of those who love us, who have accompanied us along the way, of those who have held our hand tight.
Sometimes, instead, we cannot.

When we cannot, we are lonely hearts.
When we can, we are lonely hearts.

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Thursday, January 24, 2013

Evocative Power

2004
A narration, regardless of its nature, should address the senses first.

Whether written or oral, whether a book or a performance, it should aim straight at the audience's heart, rather than at their brain.

It is necessary to understand that any acting or writing technique will be totally useless if it cannot move a reader or an audience. The purpose of story-telling is to touch, to amuse, to cheer up or even to sadden, to teach or to exemplify, to entertain and to catch interest. We also narrate to bore our children to sleep!

The overabundance of technology, plastic, glossy colours and flawless shapes, we should admit, has changed the course of our spiritual evolution. It feels, sometimes, that our soul too has become a glossy, dull-coloured and rectangular piece of plastic. We carry it in our cell phone case and has a retina display  We often share the impression that our feelings have become mere apps. Their logos appear on a display, they have bright colours and are expressed through smileys.

When life can no longer do so, art can bring us back to experiencing certain genuine and raw emotions. In order for this to happen, though, art has to aim at the core of those feelings. It has to pierce through the hard shell that envelops them like walnuts. It has to shake them because they are dormant.
Art can only succeed if it is expressed through a strong evocative power.

A narration is evocative when it touches the senses; it brings the audience or readers to see, hear, smell, taste, or touch the narrated context or object.
It is evocative when the mood it creates enshrouds the audience. It is evocative when its messages are not strictly conceptual, but through the reproduction of sounds, smells, visions and flavours it brings us to facing the beautiful side of life, the romantic one. Or even the ugly and sad ones. Isn't this what we need when Life grants us an interval?

Do you agree?


*I apologize for the incompleteness of this discourse. This post represents for me the first draft of a totally new awareness that is inexorably and quite drastically changing not only the course of my "artistic" endeavours, but of my life as well. I hope, in a nearest future, to be able to stand on a firmer ground and be, then, more precise.   


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Wednesday, January 9, 2013

To Live in Fear

Giorgio De Chirico -
Quite an experience to live in fear, isn't it. 
That's what it is to be a slave. 

Rutger Hauer - Blade Runner  


If you type "Dear" on your cell phone, the T9 will immediately and automatically translate it as "Fear".
A momentary mental lapse or an inaccurate proofreading will add a sinister hue to the text to your beloved.

We all live in Fear.
Fear stands by, lurking, sometimes unexpected, catching us unawares, whenever we deal with the unknown, with the dark, the void; feelings are unknown. Unknown and unpredictable are the twists and changes that feelings are subjected to. These transcend promises cast in steel and sealed with fire. Only blind faith is safe from Fear, and blind faith is rare, thank goodness. 

It wakes you up at night, Fear, but it won't make you scream and sweat; it's subtle, stealth: it keeps you awake, Fear, and blends with the night lights from the window. It creaks through the wooden floor as you sleep and is quiet, discreet. Silent.

It is the awareness, sometimes a paradoxically unconscious one, that you might lose what you have, fail all attempts, and face your fate alone. It is the realization that once things change, they cannot go back to what they were and that time is the most inexorable of enemies.
Fear is indeed to be a slave. It subsides once you resign, but that doesn't make you less of a slave.
It is knowing that we have little control over what is important to us.

The suicidal determination of Vangelis's music, here from the soundtrack to Blade Runner, best depicts my idea of fear.

I fear losing the beautiful things I have.

What is your greatest fear?

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