Suzanne Muzard; Photobooths and Surrealists

Here’s some cool pictures of Suzanne Muzard, apparently the inspiration of Nadja by André Breton: from here. (DEFINITELY CHECK IT OUT!)

But it turns out she wasn’t the only one who liked to take pictures in photo booths. Prattle and Jaw, a pretty cool blog, has a post containing all kinds of cool photo booth pictures of surrealists.

Raymond Queneau

I don’t really know why these pictures happened, and Prattle and Jaw don’t say much on the subject, but it seems like the fixed space and unpredictability of photo booths make them a pretty fun automatic game.

Actually, just googled it and found this wonderful article on The Atlantic: “André in Wonderland: In 1928 the first photobooth arrived in Paris – and for Breton and the surrealists, it was a dream come true” by Jonathan Jones. This article is a really lovely short history of surrealisms and its factions, and also provides some context to the pictures on Prattle and Jaw’s blog post. Here’s a great excerpt:

In The Manifesto of Surrealism he issued in 1924, Breton defines surrealism as “pure psychic automatism”. Automatism and the automatic: the photomaton was a readymade surrealist photography that removed the conscious, controlling mind of the photographer and took a stream of images too quickly for the sitter to compose her or himself in any but the most basic ways. The close range of the portraits and the flat background add to the sense of being surprised, taken aback, even abused, that we feel after sitting for a strip of passport pictures. The brutality that makes photomaton portraits uncomfortable makes them, for the surrealists, insightful.

I’m thinking the French majors I study with need to somehow make this part of the end of the year party.

Marisa Lessons

O wise one

“In orals [oral exams], when you don’t know what to say, just start quotin’.”


Prof: C’est quoi, la signifiance des derniers lignes de “Liens” par Apollinaire?

Étudiant: Ehhhhh…..

Prof: Je ne peux pas vous entendre…énoncez un peu…

Étudiant: “…..Ce toit tranquille, où marchent des colombes,

Entre les pins palpite, entre les tombes;
Midi le juste y compose de feux
La mer, la mer, toujours recommencee
O récompense après une pensée
Qu’un long regard sur le calme des dieux!”

Prof: Oh là là, bien dit. 100%.

Marisa Lessons


There’s More to Life Than Being Happy 

This cool article by Emily Esfahani Smith, from the Atlantic, is about happiness vs. meaning. We talked about it in the context of placing the concept of the self within a narrative after a traumatic experience, and this article directly addresses the ways in which Holocaust survivors made their way through and dealt with life afterwards.

In the Waiting Room,  Elizabeth Bishop1911 – 1979

This poem, which is fantastic, is about a young girl who, in the waiting room, realizes that her ‘self’ is not a clearly designated medium but rather something wholly connected to everything around her. Here’s an excerpt:

I said to myself: three days
and you’ll be seven years old.
I was saying it to stop
the sensation of falling off
the round, turning world.
into cold, blue-black space.
But I felt: you are an I,
you are an Elizabeth,
you are one of them.
Why should you be one, too?
Survival Mechanisms, Uncategorized

Proustfest/BretonFestin 2015


Marisa made these beautiful madeleines! I can’t believe they were her first batch ever.

Marisa and Zoe and a lot of work. Fortunately we are not required to read the whole oeuvre.

“Et tout d’un coup le souvenir m’est apparu. Ce goût celui du petit morceau de madeleine que le dimanche matin à Combray (parce que ce jour-là je ne sortais pas avant l’heure de la messe), quand j’allais lui dire bonjour dans sa chambre, ma tante Léonie m’offrait après l’avoir trempé dans son infusion de thé ou de tilleul. La vue de la petite madeleine ne m’avait rien rappelé avant que je n’y eusse goûté; peut-être parce que, en ayant souvent aperçu depuis, sans en manger, sur les tablettes des pâtissiers, leur image avait quitté ces jours de Combray pour se lier à d’autres plus récents; peut-être parce que de ces souvenirs abandonnés si longtemps hors de la mémoire, rien ne survivait, tout s’était désagrégé; les formes — et celle aussi du petit coquillage de pâtisserie, si grassement sensuel, sous son plissage sévère et dévot — s’étaient abolies, ou, ensommeillées, avaient perdu la force d’expansion qui leur eût permis de rejoindre la conscience.” (Du côté de chez Swann, 46).

History/Context, Uncategorized

Les illustrations d’Henri Michaux

Asemic Writing by Henri Michaux

From Michaux’s Movements, 1951: Whoever, having perused my signs, is led by my example to create signs himself according to his being and his needs will, unless I am very much mistaken, discover a source of exhilaration, a release such as he has never known, a disencrustation, a new life open to him, a writing unhoped for, affording relief, in which he will be able at last to express himself far from words, words, the words of others. – See more at: http://www.hoodedutilitarian.com/2012/03/monthly-stumblings-14-tim-gaze/#sthash.2bEYMufn.dpuf