The joy of writing

In spite of what your parents or professors told you, anybody can be a writer.
And you don’t need a college degree to indulge your passion.
Because writing is a passion, a drug, an urge that must be satisfied.
This labor of love might never come to fruition, but this is beside the point. You write for the sheer pleasure of camping words on a canvas, just like positioning little lead soldiers on an imaginary battlefield.

In writing, or in any artistic endeavor for that matter, there are no rules.
Rules went out the window a long time ago, even before Picasso started his lucrative scam.
On the high seas of literature, a writer is a filibuster who flies his own flag and doesn’t owe allegiance to anyone.
He can tackle any subject, but above all his stories have to be captivating.
And a touch of humor is never out of place because humor is to writing what spice is to cooking

While everybody can write, few scribblers will ever see fame and fortune. But this should not stop anybody from indulging his or her passion.

The cardinal sin of a writer is to stray from the core of his story and bore readers with unnecessary drivel.

ZolaI am presently going through a book by Emile Zola called “Au Bonheur des Dames” (The ladies’ Delight) and I find it occasionally boring; I have no qualms then about skipping a few paragraphs.

In “Au Bonheur” the author tells the story of Octave Mouret, a maverick department store owner whose audacity and business acumen stuns and eventually ruins his old-fashioned competitors.

The novel is 442 pages long and Zola devotes entire chapters to describing the layout of the store, the type of merchandise they are selling, the colors of the garments…
Who care? Frankly my dear I don’t give a damn about silk or Kurdistan rugs!

Most readers don’t care much about descriptive prose; they want to be told a story devoid of “fillers”. They don’t care if a woman’s skirt is red or yellow; what matters is what she thinks, how she feels and what she will do.

In “Le Bonheur” our main concern is Denise Baudu.
The poor thing is desperately poor, lives in a garret, doesn’t have any decent clothes, is starving and has to take care of two brothers.
Could it be any more pathetic? We naturally root for her and want to know how she will get out of the gutter.
But Zola persists in describing the innovations of the store and the avant-garde sales techniques of its employees.
To this I say: rubbish!

He also talks about the miserable working conditions of the employees and this is relevant because it is a reflection of the mores of that time.
But misery is like dessert; it is only palatable in small doses. In large quantity it sickens you.
And unfortunately, Emile pours it on. For about three hundred pages Denise goes through hell to eke a living and survive.

I don’t pretend to be a Zola, but I could probably produce a more succinct and more stimulating version of this story. Hello Hollywood, are you listening?
And you won’t hear me talking about the thousands of items sold in the store.

I would probably spice up the story with a little sex and all these forbidden pleasures that god-fearing citizens secretly love to hear about.

But all in all, Zola was a decent, talented guy, concerned with the miserable working conditions of the proletariat, and above all for having the courage to take on the military establishment and write his famous “J’accuse” pamphlet.

Emile, you are a little verbose but I am still one of your admirers, and spurred by your intellect I will persevere in writing my humble little stories (with fewer words).
What else could a retired guy do for kicks?


La Belle Epoque

A little while ago, while playing pétanque in Lamorinda, I purchased half a dozen French books from sassy Carolina Jones.
Mostly classics. Maupassant, Zola, Maurois, Flaubert, etc… whose works I had read in my younger years, and mostly forgotten.
I thought that it would be fun to read them again fifty years later.

I started with Bel Ami, written by Guy de Maupassant and published in 1885.
The date is important because it reflects the mood and the thoughts of the French society of that era.
That glorified period was called “La Belle Epoque” (The Beautiful Era).
La Belle Epoque started roughly at the end of the Franco-Prussian war of 1870 and ended in 1914, at the beginning of World War One.


It seems that at that time, one hundred years after the French chopped off thousands of aristocratic heads, everybody was enamored again with titles and nobility.
Everybody aspired to have a name with a nobiliary particle, just like Duroy, the protagonist of Bel Ami.
It also seems that everybody had a mistress. In those days you could not decently show your face in society if you did not have a paramour.
Felix Faure, the president of France at that time had naturally a mistress (noblesse oblige), and reportedly died while she (Marguerite Steinheil) was performing oral sex on him.
France had a good laugh and many literati and politicians exploited that event to the fullest.

George Clemenceau‘s epitaph of Faure, was “Il voulait être César, il ne fut que Pompée” (it could mean “he wished to be Caesar, but ended up as Pompey“, or “he wished to be Caesar and ended up being blown”: the verb “pomper” in French is also slang for performing oral sex on a man).”

La Belle Epoque was also a time of pervading anti-Semitism. I had forgotten but was shocked when I came across the following paragraph in Bel-Ami:

« Le patron ? Un vrai juif ! Et vous savez, les juifs on ne les changera jamais. Quelle race ! et cita des traits étonnante d’avarice, de cette avarice particulière aux fils d’Israël, des économies de dix centimes, des marchandages de cuisinière, des rabais honteux demandés et obtenus, toute une manière d’être d’usurier, de prêteurs à gages. »

The boss? A true Jew! And you know, the Jews they will never change. What a breed! And he mentioned amazing traits of greed, this greed so particular to the sons of Israel, ten-cent savings, despicable bargaining, shameful discounts demanded and obtained, always acting like usurers, pawnbrokers.

Like the thousands of greedy bastards on this earth could only be found among a handful of Chosen (for persecution) People!

No wonder that the Dreyfus Affair (1894-1906) exploded (and lingered) in such a noxious context.

“Captain Alfred Dreyfus was wrongly convicted of treason, with fabricated evidence from French government officials. Anti-Semitism directed at Dreyfus, and tolerated by the general French public in everyday society, was a central issue in the controversy and the court trials that followed. Public debate surrounding the Dreyfus Affair grew to an uproar after the publication of J’accuse, a letter sent to newspapers by prominent novelist Emile Zola, condemning government corruption and French anti-Semitism.”

Besides anti-Semitism, it was also a time when French Imperialism was in its prime. A third of Africa, Syria, Indochina, Madagascar and a multitude of outposts were under French control and ruthlessly exploited.
Those colonies eventually spawned bloody wars of independence and cost countless of French lives.

Reading those old books proved a rewarding experience because “Those who ignore history are bound (or doomed) to repeat it” and la Belle Epoque was only “belle” for those who could afford its glitter and excesses.

Just as it is today!




L’Hydre de Lerne

Emeutes en Suède, non-droit dans les banlieues françaises, carnage à Londres, attaque à l’arme blanche à Paris, la fête continue.
Voilà où mènent le socialisme et ses séquelles. Voilà où mène l’inclusion, la diversité,  la tolérance, la bénévolence, la disposition à excuser.
Parce que dans les pays socialistes on excuse beaucoup (la Suède commence maintenant a s’en mordre les phalanges) l’on donne royalement et l’on punit peu, et a contrecœur semble t-il. Les malfaiteurs, ces pauvres petits, ont toujours des excuses et des défenseurs passionnés.

Voici pourquoi beaucoup de « modérés » basculent aujourd’hui dans une extrême droite insidieuse.
Un cas de « ras le bol » exacerbé par une politique désastreuse.

Entretemps, l’Hydre Islamiste continue à grandir et a faire des victimes.
« Cette créature est décrite comme un monstre possédant plusieurs têtes, dont une immortelle. Ses têtes se régénéraient doublement lorsqu’elles étaient tranchées, et l’haleine soufflée par les multiples gueules exhalait un dangereux poison, même durant le sommeil de l’animal. »

Il y a eu quelques têtes tranchées bien sûr, mais comme le dit la légende, elles se régénèrent et deviennent plus virulentes encore (voir Londres).

Au lieu de permettre la construction de nouvelles mosquées (avant-postes de subversion financés par des intégristes), l’état serait plus avisé de construire des prisons.
Pourquoi être si accommodants avec les musulmans, quand les musulmans sont si foncièrement hostiles a l’Occident?

Malgré les rodomontades de ses dirigeants, la France continue à sombrer et sera bientôt dans la même déplorable situation que la Grèce, l’Espagne et le Portugal.
Dans de telles circonstances, la France n’a pas d’un besoin d’un bricoleur et d’une « boite a outils ».


Elle n’a pas besoin d’un homme « normal », mais plutôt d’un homme hors du commun dans le moule de Clemenceau, De Gaulle ou Churchill.
François Hollande est clairement un homme qui « pete plus haut que son cul », un « petit » qui veut jouer avec les « grands » et qui n’arrive pas a se faire entendre.

La France a besoin d’un pragmatiste, d’un homme courageux n’ayant pas peur de prendre des décisions difficiles et « Flamby» n’est visiblement pas cet homme-la.

Les français ont plébiscité un rond-de-cuir quand il leur aurait fallu un Bonaparte, et après avoir payé une multitude d’impôts pour entretenir des gens qui n’ont jamais payé leur écot, il ne leur restera plus que leurs yeux pour pleurer.

Comme on fait son lit, on se couche!