jeudi 27 janvier 2011

Identity and displacement

Poster for our show
 Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. I am in a state today. Not an altogether bad state to be in, but one that is most definitely volatile. I have been working on my Fresh Voices piece for the last two hours and a half now, and I'm at a point where my excitement has become a substantial emotion - it's leaping from my heart, but isn't yet pouring on the page. That's why I decided to pause and jam with you, dear blog readers, and tell you where I am so far in this process. I need gentle ears to listen, and gentle voices to comment, if you feel so inclined.

As I may have said before, for Fresh Voices : The Matter of Moments, I am talking about the experience of being bi-cultural, cross-cultural or even 'third cultural', even if that's not technically how I would be defined, but since my Mom was a "Third culture kid", I qualify as a 'second generation TCK'. And, by working on this solo piece, I am consciously realizing to what extent my life and whole being has been molded by the fact that I come from - and have travelled to and from - multiple places. In addition to Le Tiers Instruit, I have been reading Third Culture Kids: Growing up Among Worlds. Both books touch on the notions of multiplicity, transition, change, uprooting, nomadic existence, movement, etc. in ways that are enlightening to someone who had never been able to pinpoint where (some of) her general angst came from.

And as I am identifying with these concepts, and as I see myself fitting into some of the sociological models described, I feel a renewed freedom to think about my own life and rekindle memories that were and are important even though they may have seemed trite at the time. I still don't know how my Fresh Voices piece is going to be structured, and I really want to come up with a structure tonight (before tomorrow's sharing with company members). But perhaps sharing some of these memories and writing them for readers - rather than merely jotting them down for me - will give me the impetus to find a performative way to get all this stuff figured out.

Here are a few passages I have been working on today.

To have unresolved grief is ignoring the loss one feels. Loss of someone because you moved away and you know you won't stay in touch in the same way. Loss of something like walking to and from the library, through the stately Jardin des Plantes, admiring the busts of great naturalists on the Natural History Museum building. Unresolved grief is not taking the time to say "I miss this" and "I miss that". Unresolved grief is feeling guilty about feeling sad over everything that has changed, that is no longer the way it was.

You dismiss your memories and curse yourself for being 'nostalgic'. If being 'nostalgic' is what you need to do to mourn the loss of what you loved - love -, then, by all means, indulge.

Gleaned from another blog post: "Acte d'auto-censure dont je suis trop capable quand je veux quelquechose" - depriving myself from things. Why? Partly as a way to train myself, for when I'll have to let go of things I love. So sometimes I overthink my wants. Do I really want to do it? What will be the cost, the consequence, of doing this? What amount of pain will I feel once I need to let it/him/her/them go?

Every summer, on my list of "Things to Do while in The United States", there was : "drink at least one frappucino from Starbucks". This was before Starbucks had colonized every country in Europe and set shop in many Parisian buildings (interestingly, when Starbucks established itself in France, while I was a teenager, I decided to boycott the company, instead favoring traditionnal cafés). Other items on the list included "go to a craft store and buy stuff with pocket money", "eat real baked potatoes" (the realness came from the tin foil around the potato and the sour cream on top), "eat chinese food at the food court" and other typical American experiences not to be missed. My mother made sure we did all those things. She instinctively understood our need to relate to the US, and to establish a sense of comfort by reaching for the reassuring little things we knew and enjoyed. So, if the frappucino had not yet been ingested and we were about to leave the continent, my mother made sure I was brought to a Starbucks in the airport for the much enjoyed drink. It became my way of saying goodbye.

And now I live here. And when I go back to France, I stock up on certain things: tea, chocolate, bras, makeup. I hear French all around me and it feels both comforting and stifling, because I know that, from that point on, only my French self counts. On the American side of the ocean, I have no problem displaying my two passports. When I talk to people, I'm confident that they will regard me as specific to myself - maybe American, maybe not, maybe a little. In the States, I sense that my Frenchness is visible in some way. I don't wear it with my accent, but I wear it on my face, with my clothes, in my eating habits. Someone once said I "looked French" - whatever that means- but, I believed him.

In France, not only do I "look French" - again, whatever that means - but I speak French with no accent. I act French too. Polite but distant, not looking at people in the eyes unless I intend to talk to them, reading a magazine that I want to be seen reading [l'Express] rather than the one I really want to read [Glamour]. So, when I enter the French zone, I know that very few people will recognize my other self. And my instinct is to hide the American in me. The blue passport in my bag, the red one in hand.

The moments right after the plane ride are always crystal clear. Past the generic feel of the airport, I spot my mother - her scarf, the lenght of her hair, her signature walk. The embrace, the first few words, the entrance in the parking lot and the sight of her car. Peugeot 309, at least 22 years old by now, everything manual. A white tin can with its distinctive smell. The road from the airport to the appartment. Smaller roads than the wide expanse of those in America. Those American roads always shocked me when I came off the plane and rode in my uncle's car every summer, when we would come to visit. In France, the roads are now punctuated by radars : grey, rectangular boxes placed at strategic points to record speed and deliver fines. My mother rages at them as we pass them by, below the speed limit.
Slowly, everything starts coming back.

mercredi 26 janvier 2011


J'avais presque oublié que j'avais pris beaucoup de photos de Lyon, donc en voici quelques-unes. J'étais enthousiasmée par les points de vue lyonnais, certains bâtiments, et la lumière.

Quartier du Vieux Lyon

Un fruit d'hiver et deux ballons

Vue de Lyon en montant la côte de la Fourvière

Statue de la Basilique de la Fourvière

Détail d'une mosaique dans la Basilique de la Fourvière

Un des nombreux escaliers lyonnais

Vue de Lyon en montant la côte de la Fourvière
Pont piéton sur la Saône
Henry IV, au musée de Cadagne
Quartier du Vieux Lyon

Quartier du Vieux Lyon, vue de la Basilique de la Fourvière
Cables de tram dans le quartier de la Croix Rousse

Vue prise d'une côte dans le quartier de la Croix Rousse
Quartier de la Croix Rousse

Quartier de la Croix Rousse

La Grande Roue de la place Bellecour

Vue prise du quartier de la Croix Rousse
Vue prise de la Croix Rousse

Vue prise de la Croix Rousse

La nuit arrive...

jeudi 13 janvier 2011

Le Tiers Instruit - la révélation

Je commence à travailler sur le spectacle de Fresh Voices qui va se jouer en février à Touchstone. C'est à nous, les deux apprenties, de monter un spectacle composé de trois "morceaux": le solo de Mariel, mon solo, et notre duo.
Comme j'étais apprentie l'année dernière, je connais les règles: carte blanche, vous vous débrouillez, mais c'est sous-entendu qu'il faut "come up with something good".

Pour mon solo, j'ai envie de parler de l'experience de la double-culture qui aboutit à une tierce culture, souvent innommable et subjective. Je sais qu'il y a pas mal de lecteurs de ce blog qui sont concernés, de près ou de loin, par cette problématique, et je suis toujours curieuse et intéressée d'entendre les experiences personnelles qui en découlent. Donc, partagez, si vous voulez!

J'ai toujours fait partie de deux cultures, et j'ai été bercée par deux - très belles - langues au point de les mélanger pour créer le marasme qu'est le "franglais". Mais j'essaye aussi, autant que possible, de respecter la structure de chaque langue, et j'aime écrire en chacune d'elle.
Mais c'est vrai que quand je réfléchis, les deux systèmes expressifs que sont le français et l'anglais se soudent, se font écho, se relaient dans mon esprit.

Cette notion de mélange culturel qui aboutit à une nouvelle identitée, au delà d'un territoire, a été théorisée par plusieurs penseurs. J'avais déjà entendu parler des expressions "Third cultures kid (TCK)" et "cross-cultural kid (CCK)" et j'avais même navigué sur le site dédié au sujet. Je viens d'acheter en ligne Third Culture Kids: Growing up Among Worlds by David C. Pollock and Ruth E. Van Reken. Je n'étais pas très étonnée d'apprendre que cette partie de la population avait été observée et étudiée, surtout par des sociologues américains (ou, au moins, comptant les Etats-Unis comme un de leur pays de culture).

Mais, alors que je me balladais dans Lyon (il y a de cela une semaine), je suis tombée, par pur hasard, sur un livre qui allait me parler comme peu de livres m'avaient parlé jusqu'ici : Le Tiers Instruit de Michel Serres.
Petit livre de poche posé dans une benne de livres d'occasion, payé 1euro 50 à un libraire qui était en pleine conversation avec quelqu'un, et qui ne s'est en aucune façon aperçu à quel point il avait contribué à me faire comprendre qui je suis.

J'exagère à peine mon enthousiasme et ma surprise. Je crois bien que j'en avais la bouche ouverte, et j'ai du me parler toute seule, audiblement, dans le quartier du vieux Lyon. "C'est pas possible, c'est pas possible, c'est fou...Michel Serres, ça me dit vaguement quelquechose... Michel Serres...". Oui, ça aurait pu me dire quelquechose en effet : académicien, philosophe, sociologue, collègue de Michel Foucault, etc.

J'ai commencé à lire l'essai dans un café, place Bellecour, le soir-même, en attendant qu'Amélie sorte du travail. Et, comme je le fais souvent quand l'enthousiasme me saisit à propos d'une oeuvre, j'ai commencé à recopier des passages, à en souligner d'autres, à écrire des notes dans les marges, des points d'exclamation qui disent "Oui, oui! Je comprends! Je voulais dire ça, moi aussi, mais je n'y étais pas parvenue. Merci!"

Je recopie ici le passage intitulé Naissance du Tiers, parce que mes paraphrases n'atteindraient pas la clarté de l'original :

"  Il parvient à l'autre rive : autrefois gaucher, vous le trouvez droitier, maintenant; jadis gascon, vous l'entendez francophone ou anglomane aujourd'hui. Vous le croyez naturalisé, converti, inversé, bouleversé. Certes, vous avez raison. Il habite vraiment, quoique avec douleur, le second rivage. Le pensez-vous simple? Non, bien sûr, double. Devenu droitier, il demeure gaucher. Bilingue ne veut pas dire seulement qu'il parle deux langues: il passe sans cesse par le pli du dictionnaire. Bien adapté, mais fidèle à ce qu'il fut. Il a oublié, obligatoirement, mais il se souvient quand même. Le croyez-vous double?
  Mais vous ne tenez pas compte du passage, de la souffrance, du courage de l'apprentissage, des affres d'un naufrage probable, de la crevasse ouverte dans le thorax par l'écartèlement des bras, des jambes et de la langue, large barre d'oubli et de mémoire qui marque l'axe longitudinal de ces rivières infernales que nos anciens nommaient amnésies. Vous le croyez double, ambidextre, dictionnaire, et le voilà triple ou tiers, habitant les deux rives et hantant le milieu où convergent les deux sens, plus le sens du fleuve coulant, plus celui du vent, plus les inclinaisons inquiètes de la nage, les intentions nombreuses produisant les décisions; dans ce fleuve dans le fleuve, ou la crevasse au milieu du corps, se forme une boussole ou rotonde d'où divergent vingt sens ou cent mille. L'avez-vous cru triple?
  Vous vous méprenez encore, le voilà multiple. Source ou échangeur de sens, relativisant à jamais la gauche, la droite et la terre d'où sortent les directions, il a intégré un compas dans son corps liquide. Le pensiez-vous converti, inversé, bouleversé? Certes. Plus encore: universel. Sur l'axe mobile du fleuve et du corps frissonne, émue, la source du sens."
pp. 26-27.

Il y a pleins d'autres passages à souligner, et d'images percutantes. Je vais m'en servir, et essayer de convertir certaines de ces idées sur scène en créant des images théâtrales, des atmosphères et des personnages qui parlent du tiers, et de l'universel. On verra ce que ça donne!

lundi 3 janvier 2011

2011: the future.

Happy New Year!
Bonne Année!

A shout out to all the friends who read this blog, and to those who have stumbled upon it. I do enjoy sharing thoughts on here, and am touched that people take the time to read said thoughts.

I suppose now is the time to think about New Year's resolutions, or about the year to come and what it might bring.I've never been good at projecting myself in the future. To me, the "future" is a flimsy concept which is not tangible or reliable. It's infinite and uncertain. To us humans, there's no way of knowing when one's future will end. But we know it will, at some point, since death is at the end of our future road. So yeah, the future, to me, is problematic. However, practically, it can be good to think forward in order to move on and make plans that will help us live fuller lives. The plans may change, they may morph into something different, but they first have to be formulated in some way, or else nothing can come out of them. I need to remember that making plans can be a good thing, if I'm willing to let the plans change with time, according to what the future holds. 

I'm starting to look for jobs since I will not be working at Touchstone theatre anymore after July 2011. It's a daunting prospect to search for a position (of any kind, at this point) after having been in a cocoon for two years. I know I have learned  and am learning a lot by being an apprentice, but I still feel very young and inexperienced. Although I have a master's degree, I don't know how to promote it in my applications. I don't know where to look, or what to do exactly, or even where to live. I have settled on staying in the States for a little longer, but that's pretty much it. Philadelphia and DC are at the top of my list for job searches. All I know is that I need to earn some money, and all I hope is that I will work in a field that's interesting to me.

Despite all this uncertainty, I don't feel panicked yet [yet, being the operative word]. And, I have figured something out which should help me : wether it's within or outside of my job, I need to keep on creating. I need to write more, think creatively, dream up projects, more, more, more.I have no idea what's in store for me, or for anyone, in this new year. There's no way of predicting anything. But, if we can work our way to doing what we love, then, there's hope and there will be satisfaction.