A year ago…

Yes, a year ago, we got on a plane that took us far far away, on an amazing journey. I can’t believe how fast time has gone. So, today is the perfect day to announce the creation of an exhibition about this trip around the world and all the myths and tales we heard along the way. It will be shown at the end of September in my hometown in France, and kids from the local school will come see it. I’ll have some time with them to chat about the trip and everything else, I’m so happy!

So, here’s the poster, I hope you’ll like it (even though it’s in French!).

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Session 1: kids and storytelling

There you go: a few videos of the children from the class we visited in June telling their own stories! It was a plaesure to listen to them, and very interesting.

As we were not sure if we would be allowed to make these videos, we chose not to show their faces too much and focus on the drawings. Also, we’ll find a way to make this disturbing whistling noise disappear. Anyway, here are two stories (I’ll try to put some more up on our YouTube channel: I’m working on the subtitles).

For The Three Little Pigs story, click here; for their version of Alphonse Daudet’s Mr. Seguin’s Goat, there; and here is the story of Alice in Wonderland.

This is SPARTA – among other things.

A few weeks ago, while I was watching Thor, something hit me – and no, it was not Thor’s shiny armor or his bleached eyebrows. I know the movie is adapted from a comic loosely based on the Nordic mythology, which I am certainly no expert in. Watching this movie (in all its inconsistency), I was saying, gave me the desire to do a Hollywood-movies-based-on-ancient-mythology marathon. So, I called a few friends, prepared a list of amazing movies and a good meal, and there we went. That was fun, that’s for sure, but not really accurate on the mythology part, and let’s face it, for most movies, very poor in regards of the storyline. Before I say more, I want you to know that when I watch a movie, I generally like it, I am not a huge critic or anything. I actually enjoyed some really bad movies, even though I could see the big plot holes and easy way-out (like, Thor: I had a good time watching it, even more the second time with my friends… Ok, that was maybe not entirely due to the movie). However, that day (well, night), I decided I would watch these movies the way I would study stories, and here are a few thoughts on Immortals, Troy (oh, Troy, our middle-school years, we, these stupid kids at the theater …), Clash of the Titans and 300. I couldn’t get myself to watch Wrath of the Titans, the first one was bad enough, and I know 300 is not about mythology, but I haven’t seen it before, and I really wanted to. It was, um, enlightening. So here are some points I’d like to discuss.

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Studying Literature : A Call for Diversity

Some days ago, Janyce and I were talking about over-specialization in studies, and agreed in the fact that it was not such a good thing.

Here in France, young people have to choose very early, as soon as they begin high school, what direction they want to give to their life : if they undertake the scientific path, they’ll do maths, physics and biology till they die, while they’ll stop studying French Literature or Story and Geography before they finish the whole cycle of high school. Otherwise, if they choose to explore literature, they’ll have a huge amount of french and philosophy lessons, while the maths are relegated to three miserable hours per week and consist essentially in resolving problems for the challenging sales’ season. My twin sister, who attended mostly the literature class because she hated maths with all her heart, had to taste different yoghurts for her Biology lesson… while I was being overwhelmed by integrals and statistics, but had almost no philosophic courses. Our teacher of French Literature never explained to us how to write the famous french “dissertation”, saying that it was of no use for us who devoted themselves to pure science, and I was excluded from the class of History of Art, because I was in the scientific section!

This fracture between literature and sciences is becoming wider and wider, as the perpetual reforms of the “Éducation Nationale” go on. It is true that, nowadays, it is not possible to have a universal culture as the men of the Rinascimento aspired to, since knowledge has become so vast and apparently easily accessible, thanks to Internet, that there’s no need to study and memorize everything : google it and you’ll have an answer in a few seconds (If Plato lived today, he would have  probably started a new literary war against Internet and virtual books that cause, in his system of Ideas, the death of memory and therefore culture) . The ideal of humanism is dying suffocated by a mosaic of sectors and specializations that requires a collaboration between different specialists and often a team-work, which is now the most valuable exercise for developing amazing social skills.

Is it wise to divide and enclose human knowledge in such tiny boxes? And then we blame the younger generations, for not doing the connections between the subjects studied at school? Some people define culture as what survive in the mind after the great labor of studies and graduation, a sort of gaudily-painted cloth that covers us against the wind of oblivion and misunderstanding. Do we have still a common culture to share with strangers, a blanket to offer in those cold nights around the fire?

Well, personally, I don’t want to be enclosed in one drawer of the great research closet (yeah, I know, the analogy may be a little claustrophobic) : I desire to explore as much as I can, to step into different worlds, cultures, systems of thought, techniques and crafts.

This experience around the world will teach us to master the multi-task side of the Force, since we’ll have to plan the journeys, to draw and tell the myths, to hold properly the camera and to do the video editing, not forgetting to keep wisely the accounts and to manage to communicate in the countries for which we do not know the language (China my love)… What an adventure!

Yesterday, we had a big party at Janyce’s to celebrate our future globe-trotting for a whole year : Janyce and Lucie prepared different and delicious traditional dishes from all around the world, and we had to hit a paper-earth full of candies to free and eat them, dancing on the “around the world” playlist arranged by Lucie.

These amazing girls baked fortune-cookies too, and the little proverbs they hid in them were very funny. Some of them were almost the voice of Destiny, like the one found by Janyce : “Better to get lost than to never go”, while mine was revelatory, a pearl of Indian philosophy : “If you close your eyes, the world seems so dark.”

I want to keep my eyes wide open to see diversity and enlighten my mind. Surely, I need to learn how to read a map and not lose myself behind the corner, instead of looking at butterflies and crickets jumping from one flower to another in this incoming summer.

Enjoy diversity!

Session 1: Orpheus, the video

Here’s the video of me telling the story of Orpheus and Eurydice. We got the authorization to put up the videos of the children telling their own tales, they’ll be there soon!

So, if you want to see how I dived into the story (no, no, I was not nervous at all…), click here! I put subtitles for the intro, but not for the story (It’s so long): you can find the myth here. =)

Session 1: reactions

Still waiting to see if we can publish the videos we took in the classroom… But here are two interviews: if you click here, you will hear what Mrs Isabelle Clavaron, the children’s teacher, thought of the experience, and if you click there, you will discover Chloé’s opinion, a M.A. student in Education who was present during our presentation.

And as I am very nice (no, kidding), I put English subtitles for you! 😉

Session 1: conclusions

During this intervention, questions were raised in my mind, so here are some thoughts on this experience.

First, before the session, I began doubting the choice of the myth we decided to tell. It’s a beautiful story, it’s true, but so sad. And more and more, I was thinking this was not a story to be told to ten-year-olds. I felt like the moral behind it was not so clear… But then, I thought about it and I realized that we had chosen this story for good reasons, and that yes, children would understand and appreciate it. I ended up telling the moral explicitly: it didn’t feel very warm to end the story with “and then she died, again”!

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