art

Art & Literature in Paris (or, Three good reasons to read this article)

No need for me to tell you that Paris is an amazing city if, like me, you love art, architecture and literature.

I only spent a weekend there recently and I thought I should talk about some discoveries that I made, as well as publish some pictures (I lost my memory card so I used my phone, low quality..).

Literature:
If you love English books, Shakespeare and Co is the perfect place to find them. The bookshop has a great collection of classics, including stories and poems from the Beat Generation (which I love), contemporary literature and non-fiction books. The staff is welcoming and very helpful.

You might even find yourself there at a time when someone is playing the piano. Surrounded by all those books, and knowing a little bit about the history of the bookshop, I felt like I had gone back in time to the beginning of the 20th century.

Art:
There are so many museums in Paris that if you are there for a weekend only, you will have troubles choosing the right one to visit. I hesitated between the Louvre (I’m French and have never visited it) and the Musée Pompidou. Because it was its 40th anniversary, I decided to visit Pompidou.

If you have never seen the architecture of the building, it is worth having a look! It is very modern (considering its age), and whether you like the style or not, the museum is very impressive among the Parisian buildings.

I loved the exhibition on Russian artists, especially the work of Vladimir Yankilevsky (click here for his website). Among other works, we were able to discover his “Anatomy of feelings” collection. It is definitely an exhibition that I would advise anyone to see.

There were so many artists that I liked, some I have written down the name but haven’t had time to look closely at their work, that it would be hard for me to tell you about them all. I can only advise to go and check them for yourselves.

Photography:
Like I have said before, I did not use my camera but my phone. The pictures aren’t perfect but they can give you an idea of what I saw (especially the view from the top of the Pompidou museum).

Visiting Belfast

When I arrived in Belfast yesterday morning, I wouldn’t have imagined any of what I saw during the day. I had heard a lot about the city, about how deceiving it was (in comparison to Dublin for example), and I had also learnt a few things about the historical religious conflict. However, I was not entirely prepared.

We first walked in the city centre where you can find nice buildings, wonderful street art and surprisingly, a few abandoned building right in the centre.

ImageOur next step was to visit the Titanic museum, which was worth the £10 student price is you are interested in the drawing of the boat, its construction, and the life of the workers on the boat. The experience is really good with a lot of objects presented, lots of pictures and videos, covering until the departure of the boat.

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We had decided to stay in Belfast only for one day. After the Titanic Museum, we decided to visit the west part of the city. And then, we knew why people had told us they disliked Belfast. We faced many abandoned buildings and some wastelands. I knew that there were lots of bushes and walls to separate the neighborhoods, and that a “Wall of Peace” had been erected, but I never imagined it so high. I felt bad walking in this area of Belfast and I was happy enough that we did not have much time left.

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Purification

I.

C’est un secret dont je me lasse,
Une vérité cachée, hélas!
Qui se renforce et creuse la terre
Et soudain prend un goût amer.

C’est un secret dont je me lasse,
Un mensonge proliféré, hélas!
Il se renforce et sors de terre
Et s’élance dans les airs.

C’est un secret au goût amer,
Une honte cachée en mer
Qui me condamne à l’enfer
De quelque amour imaginaire.

II.

Il me faut taire
Ces amours imaginaires,
Ces amours interdites,
Cette vérité fortuite.

Il me faut taire
Ces pensées éphémères
Lors de ma poursuite
De rêveries interdites.

III.

Il me faut taire,
Il me faut taire!
Laissez-moi faire,
Il me faut plaire!

IV.

Voici le secret indéfini.
Celui qui me punit,
Et lentement me condamne
À la mort de l’âme.

Project Anonymous : the article!

Remember a couple of months ago, in relation to a project that I called « Anonymous », I created a questionnaire via Google. I asked anyone who was willing to help me to reply to some questions on life and money. Two months later, I finally have the courage to write an article gathering the answers. I even did charts!

First of all, before I give you a description of the different (and amazing) answers I received, I would like to intoduce the people that replied. To keep the project as « anonymous » as I could, I did not ask for many details on the social environment of the volunteers. Indeed, as most of the answers come from my social circles, the less details I have, the less easily I can guess who answered.

I have to say that I was not reaally surprised when I saw the distribution of the answers according to age. As I said, the answers come from people I know, or from people that study in the same university as I do. It was then normal that half of the answers come from people aged between 20 and 30. The reason why I give you a chart is for you to have an idea of the categories of people that answered… Most of them are students. Consequently, the answers are to be studied according to this variable.

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The second chart I give you concerns the gender of the volunteers. When I created the questionnaire, I intentionally add a third choice, apart from male and female. I know that there is a debate about the question of gender in many countries these days and my opinion is that male and female are concepts that were created. I do not cast doubt on a third gender or a fourth one. If someone disagrees, I would love to hear your arguments. Back to the figures, a majority of answers come from female even though the difference is small. I also received answers from people that considered themselves part of a third category, but no detail was given.

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Then, what seems important is the places the volunteers come from. We all have different cultures, different educations and these factors are to be taken into account when dealing with questions on happiness and love. Once again, the answers come mainly from places I know, such as France where I am from and Ireland where I currently live. As for the other volunteers, for the most part they come from Europe, and a few from the United States of America. I have tried to represent the percentage of answers in a chart and on a map, yellow representing a small amount of answers and red being a consistent number.

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Now, let’s enter the heart of the project. I will start with the end of the questionnaire. I offered different themes and asked the volunteers to rate them from 1 to 5 according to the importance they attach to these themes. Volunteers were asked to rate their interest in literature, poetry, cinema, music, nature, video games, sport, party, art and career. I was not sure what I would do with the numbers afterward but I felt that I should ask these questions. I have made a chart (again) showing the average of interest in the different subjects.

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What I noticed and found interesting is that even though the age average is low, the interest in video games is the lowest. This does not show in any case that there is a decrease of young people playing video games but perhaps that the people that answered are not geeks. Contrarily, they seem to have great interest in artistic and literary themes. Music makes the worlds go round and so does the cinema! Indeed, they are the two themes with the highest rate, with an average grade of 4,3 and 80% of people granting importance to them in their lives (people that voted 4 and 5). As for the other themes, I let you have a look on the results. As I said before, I was not sure how to deal with the numbers but it is good to have them.

What is your definition of happiness?

I have hesitated a lot to know how I would present the results to the open questions : should I make a summary of the replies or should I just list the answers. The difficulty of doing a summary is that I have asked the volunteers to tell me if they were happy, based on their definition. With a summary, the answers for the second question seem meaningless. So, I will make a list of the definitions, followed by the reply on whether people are happy or not.

  • a simple life surrounded by positive people, YES

  • deep breathing, NO

  • do whatever we want, whenever we want without hurting anyone, YES

  • Being able to be yourself and enjoy your life, do things with people who love you for who you are and not feel lonely or scared or depressed, NO

  • feeling alive, NO

  • feeling good, KIND OF

  • eternal life, YES

  • do whatever I want without being judged by society, KIND OF

  • being surrounded by people you love and who love you, are happy to see you, will cheer you up when you feel down, will ignore any petty squabbles and know you’d do the same for them, NO

  • not worrying that I’d let people down, not on an emotional level – failing tests, not getting jobs, etc, YES

  • acceptance and loving friends, NO

  • when time doesn’t have any sense anymore, YES

  • having things that I care about, KIND OF

  • freedom, fullness, YES ANS NO

  • love, NO

  • being able to do the things I love and have a roof over my head and food, good friends and a nice family, NO

  • do things without second guessing, having friends without thinking they hate me, SOMETIMES

  • having everything I need, YES

  • existence, YES

  • fulfillment in most areas of my life, YES

  • to love the way you are and to love how things are going and to feel so good that you want things to stay that way. Feel good with oneself and accept whatever life offers you, YES

  • unconditional love and acceptance without the need to categorize anyone, success in helping others, KIND OF

  • enthusiasm and peacefulness, SOMETIMES

  • being yourself without caring about what people will think of you, NO

  • happiness is a fake feeling, NO

  • sense of wellness, contentedness, feeling of safety and inner self-”reassuredness” (I love people that create words), YES

  • joy and serenity, NO

Now that you have read every answers, here is a summary of the replies concerning people’s feeling on whether they are happy or not. We all have different definitions of happiness and a bit more than half of us think we are happy to a certain extent.

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 What is your definition of true love?

Here, I will not make a list of the answers but a summary instead. On the one hand, there are people that believe in true love and others that think true love does not exist. Among those who don’t believe in true love, some told me that they thought there were different forms of love and that none of them was more true than another, and I agree. I will not create a debate here, I did not ask the question to find a perfect answer but to learn a bit about people’s views on love.

Among the answers of those who seem to believe in true love, most of people think that it happens when you find someone who know you can spend your life with or when you are ready to die for. In most cases, it means a total presence in the other person’s life, implying that you accept that person for who they are and that they accept who you are in return. Trust, respect, comfort and sincerity are important aspects of the relationships described in the answers.

If there was no money, what would you do?

Here comes a crucial question. Indeed, if money did not limit your possibilities, what would your dreams be? I have already developed this question in another article and I am currently working on a new project with a friend on the subject (update to come soon). I will also sum up the replies, as most of the volunteers agree on their views. A part of the people that replied would just (as they say) live their lives. What I understand here is that in both cases (money exists or it doesn’t), those people already feel like they live their lives as they wish. Some others dream of travels, explorations, creation. In other cases, people would share with others and try to create a better place. Among the answers I found funny : lots of sex, create money and be a rich “bastard” and “hide because we’re all going to die.”

What makes you angry?

I love this question because it shows how we all are different and it reminds us to a certain extent that we should not blame people for their reaction because, YES, we all are DIFFERENT! Here the answers are : injustice, disrespect, arguing with people, stress, people, rejection, ignorance, inequality, poverty, fascism, capitalism, “myself”, Hermione Granger (people who think they know everything), narrow-mindedness, intolerance, posh people, French people (a French person said that!), modernity, and letting people down. One person told me that he/she could not be angry.

Do you have secrets haunting you?

I will start here with a chart gathering the answers. As you can see, a majority of us have secrets. We can agree that sometimes, keeping secrets is good for us, but in other cases, people feel hurt about what they hide for whatever reason.

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Among the people that replied ‘yes’, some told me what their secret was. As this is anonymous, I think I can share them. Someone feels that they don’t who they are and that they feel they take advantage of a sort of “fake” love they give to others for personal gain. Someone feels ashamed about certain acts such as cheating on a partner. Another person feels like they have too many secrets, among them are disordered eating, self-harm, anxiety, mental illness in the family, etc. Someone does not care about people. Finally, I received a few answers of gay people that are still in the closet and feel haunted by this secret.

Conclusion

I am really bad at conclusion so I will just say one thing : we are all different (you already knew). Yep, nothing else. If you wish to help me conclude, please, feel free to comment above or send me a private message (malher.mathieu@laposte.net).

I would like to thank everyone that participated in the project. I really appreciate your sincerity and I hope you have enjoyed reading this article. I apologize as always for any grammar or syntax fault in the text.

As for my next project in collaboration with a friend, I’ll keep in touch with you but I am really excited.

The Anonymous Inspiration

And again it happened
Drowned in the depths of my sorrows,
The darkest,
I contemplated my soul.

Lulled by the music of my thoughts
I let them fall, tears
Tears of sadness, tears of bliss.

And Death noticed them and came,
Her cloak dancing with the wind
And there was nothing else I could do
But wait.

Wait for the Angel,
The Angel of Death.