Wintergatan - Marble Machine photo

Wintergatan – Marble Machine

Tiens, YouTube vient encore de me proposer une petite vidéo musicale tout à fait loufoque.

Martin Mollin, artiste suédois qui oeuvre aussi sous le pseudonyme Wintergatan, a réalisé une machine capable de créer de la musique à partir de billes qui tapent sur des bouts d’instrument.

Au bout de quatorze mois de plans et de réalisations, Wintergatan a dessiné, découpé et assemblé des pièces de bois, cordes, bouts d’instruments pour finalement obtenir un résultat poétique et surprenant.

Voici donc la Marble Machine :

Je trouve le résultat très entêtant, extrêmement poétique et bien réalisé. Cela fait même un peu penser à un univers post-rock, voire de science-fiction.

“If” – by Rudyard Kipling

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;
If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ‘em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
‘ Or walk with Kings – nor lose the common touch,
if neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And – which is more – you’ll be a Man, my son!

— Rudyard Kipling, “If”, 1895

Taylor Mali - What Teachers Make photo

Taylor Mali – What Teachers Make

Taylor Mali (born 28 March 1965) is an American slam poet, teacher and voiceover artist. And he’s one of my role models too – I think he’s just awesome :

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World Builder photo

Bruce Branit – World Builder

World Builder raconte l’histoire d’un homme étrange qui construit un monde à l’aide d’outils holographiques pour la femme qu’il aime.

Ce court-métrage, écrit par Bruce Branit, a été tourné en une seule journée mais a nécessité plus de 2 ans de post-production.

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Ark photo


Voici un court-métrage réalisé par Grzegorz Jonkajtys et Marcin Kobylecki, présenté au festival de Cannes 2007.

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English Literature


Lord Jim by Joseph Conrad

Macbeth by William Shakespeare

A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare

Richard III by William Shakespeare

World War One Poetry

Regeneration by Pat Barker

War Poet : Wilfried Owen photo

War Poet : Wilfried Owen


Wilfried Owen was born in the West of England and educated in a technical college. He left England in 1913 to teach English in Bordeaux (France) and came back in 1915 to enlist.

He was soon commissioned and injured in March 1917. He was sent to Craiglockheart where he met Wilfried Sassoon. Returned to the Front in 1918 and was killed one week before the end of the war.

Owen found his own voice in the trenches, although he began writing poetry at an early age. Most of his poems were written between Summer 1917 and Autumn 1918. Only 5 of his poems were published in his lifetime.

His reputation slowly grew and now, he is regarded as a first-rank War poet, wooed for his bleak realism, his energy, his compassion, his high technical skills.

Two poets influenced Owen: Keats and Sassoon. The War had a very important impact on the quality of his verse.

What is remarkable is how he developed from an imitator of Keats to a major War poet. His meeting with Sassoon played a great key role too.

In Regeneration by Pat Barker, Sassoon encourages Owen to write poetry and says: “Sweat your guts writing poetry”.

Hence, in Owen’s poetry, the two influences are used:

  • the Keatian influence, visible in word music and lyric strain: the delightened competence in sound effect and rhythm, the use Owen makes of color, his determination to see beauty.
  • the Sassonian influence in Owen’s irony and realism : anger and ironic contrast, number of themes (eg: theme of “Disabled”). Owen adds a cosmic dimension thanks to Sassoon’s themes.

Pity is a key word in Owen’s poetry:

“Above all I’m not concerned with Poetry, my subject
is War and the pity of War. The Poetry is the pity.”

War Poet : Edward Thomas photo

War Poet : Edward Thomas


Edward Thomas was educated at Oxford University where he studied history. He was known as a critic and as an essayist. He wrote a lot (mainly reviews) but did not get much money.

Thomas started writing poetry in 1913 when he met Robert Frost, who encouraged him to write verse. December 1914 saw his first poems.

Thomas was 37, married and with family when he enlisted in 1915 because of social pressure. He died on Easter Day 1917, without seeing his poetry published under his own name: he was published under the pseudonym “Eastaway”.

He wrote poems during the last 2 years of his life. Considered as a major poet like Auden, Larkin and Walcott, who acknowledged their debts to Thomas.

It is difficult to categorize Thomas: his poetry has been variously described as Nature poetry, Georgian poetry, War poetry and Modernist poetry.

Although he wrote about Nature, it was more about his inner nature. Thomas’s poetry is a complement to Owen’s poetry.

His ideas about England

When asked why he enlisted, Thomas picked up a pinch of earth and said: “literally for this”. He had a deep love for England but did not write chauvinistic poems.

He regarded Coleridge’s poems such as “Fears in Solitude” as humble poems (“Oh dear Britain, O my Mother Isle”)

Thomas’s anthology is entitled This England. It is an allusion to the praise of England made by one of the characters of Richard II by Shakespeare (Act II, sc.1, l.40-50). This anthology is rooted in English traditions and landscape.

His definition of England was: “This England is what we may be Lord of without possessing. England is not an idea, not even a nation but a very specific place, a place that for the poet is home“.

Thus, Thomas’s notion of “Englisheness” is very different from Brooke’s conception in “The Soldier”. There is always a connection between “I” and the external world: Thomas wrote about life, survival, and the cyclically renewal of Nature.

In 1999, more than 60 poets wrote poems in a book called Elected Friends Poems From, For and About Edward Thomas. He is the only poet receiving such a tribute.

World War One poetry : a problematic issue photo

World War One poetry: a problematic issue


War poetry is not a school of poetry in itself but it played a tremendous part since it inspired a new birth of inspiration. It was a totally new experience: nothing like that before in poetry, no war like WW1 before.

War had already been a subject for poetry but never with such feelings. In English consciousness, in 1914, war was fought by processionals away from home and many people thought it glamorous.

Before 1914, war poems would have an exotic ending, completely removed from immediate experience. But WW1 is a new experience in the sense that the poets had to find a poetic voice to render what they witnessed.

Poets were ill-equipped because they had no tradition to draw upon, no worthwhile models to imitate.

First, poets imitated anthology pieces or well-established forms like sonnets. Then, they gradually found their own voices.

The Georgian Movement

The Georgian Movement appeared in 1912. Originally, it applied to the writers of George V but the meaning was then restricted to pastoral poetry.

The five volumes of Georgian Poetry appeared between 1912 and 1922. It was very successful but the quality declined in the last volumes. Great influence for many poets.

Several poets, including Sassoon and Blunden, objected to being called Georgian Poets, although they had published poems in the Georgian Anthology.

Note : nowadays, “Georgian” has a rather pejorative and negative connotation. Many critics made it impossible to associate “Georgian” and good poetry, especially because of the importance of modernism which marginalized Georgian Poetry.

G. Poets were mainly blamed for their traditionalism (imitation of their forefathers), for being escapists (attempting to escape from urban and industrial life) and for cultivating false simplicity.

In fact, Georgian Poetry was most interesting than that: the Georgian movement was a reaction against the poetic establishment, embodied by Newbolt.

The first two volumes include many poems but fail to include such poets as Owen (who thought himself Georgian). Marsh is responsible for the Georgian anthology, he made it on subjective grounds: “this volume is issued in the belief that English poetry is now once more putting on a new strength and beauty”.

As a result, the Georgian Movement is quite informal and Georgian Poetry is not homogeneous. There are two phases in Georgian Poetry :

  • Georgian phase proper: 1912-1915 volumes.
  • Neo-Georgian phase.

Phase 1 is the real Georgian Poetry. In 1912, Georgian Poetry was hailed as symbolizing “the new rebellion in English poetry”. Poets have in common to challenge the establishment, the current trends in poetry:

  • Denial of individualism.
  • Virtues of national identity and moral responsibilities.
  • “Poetic diction”, pompous poetry.

By contrast, the aims of Georgian Poetry in Phase 2 was to give a subjective personal response to personal concern to return to Wordsworth and to use a straightforward and casual language (that is why they were blamed for cultivating simplicity).

The Georgian general recommendation was the giving up of complex forms so that more people could read poetry. Georgian Poetry was to be English but not aggressively imperialistic, pantheistic rather than atheistic; and as simple as a child’s reading book.


Georgian poets were blamed for being traditionalists: they rejected the accepted practices of their days. They tried to react and to follow the lead shown by Wordsworth a century earlier, who wanted to “write in the real language of man”.

They were not only reacting again but also trying to introduce some new keys innovations into English poetry.


Georgian poets were said to have ignored the time in which they lived (unlike Newbolt). They wanted to make the poetry reading public, aware of the unpleasant faith of English society. They introduced prostitutes and tramps in their poetry.

Far from being escapist, early Georgian Poetry relied on realism (cf Brook). To make poetry relevant, they adopted a close reflection of real life, common and sordid. They attempted to describe the emotional reality.

Nature was an obsession for the poets: it was used to explore other issues and as a means of communication. Georgian Poetry puts a strong emphasis on emotional response. It is an answer to the increasing complexity of dislocation of the modern world.

Georgian War Poetry

Georgian war poetry is not a homogeneous mass, it changes at the same as new expedience arises from fighting and the life in the trenches. Early poetry written before the battle of the Somme in 1916 :

  • chivalric heroic aspect
  • virtue of sacrifice
  • righteous cause

Leading figures: Brooke, Sorley.

Later poetry (after 1916) :

  • sense of delusionment
  • war felt as senseless
  • cost of war in human terms (casualties)

Leading figures: Sassoon, Owen, Blunden, Rosemberg. Many of the early poems were written by patriotic versifiers.

Many poems (not all) are a mere formula using stereotypes of rhymes etc.

An authentically American Literature photo

An authentically American Literature

Writing the territory: the literature of discovery and exploration

Started as a vision in Europe: it is a product of literary imagination. America existed only as a literary object that was represented in the writings of Europeans who first visited America. They brought back their own visions, written in Spanish or French and not in English.

16th century: the English knew about America through outside texts, not from English texts.

The 1670s: English mariners started exploring the North American coast.

The creation of American literature goes hand in hand with the first permanent colonies at Jamestown, Plymouth, Boston, Charleston or Philadelphia.

In the language, American in temperament and in tone, the literature of the colonists was different from the exotic narratives of the explorers (i.e. “land of miracles”, “eldorado”).

The literature of the colonists shows a contradictory mixture of terror and exaltation before the magnitude of the land.

However, more often than not, the literature of the first settlers shows that it was difficult to maintain a positive attitude toward America. George Percy’s Discourse on the Plantation (1607) shows that the writers saw America as a land of “meadows and goodly tall trees” and people as “miserable distressed”.

So there are full of ambivalence and contradictions. America is the land of the new beginning and opportunities but also a beautiful land of difficulties (sacrifices, isolation, and hard work). Ambivalence is an important factor of American literature.

This first contradictory experience will mark American literature with its most nasty and characteristic voice, created out of actions rather than imagery or contemplation.

The narratives of Captain Smith are big examples of the American new character: the narration of the internal life of the individuals goes hand in hand with the external description of the land.

There’s a constant dialogue between the mind of the individual and Nature. It’s always Nature that has a strong effect on the mind of the individuals. Human minds only change with confrontations with Nature.

European literature was more based on contemplation whereas American literature was a concrete experience with Nature: that makes a huge philosophical difference. Captain Smith wrote:

  • A true relation (1608)
  • A map of Virginia (1612)
  • The general Historie of Virginia, New England and
    the Summer Isles

The work of Capt. Smith is representative of a specific literary character in the sense that they show a deeply American theme: the theme of the relations between geographical exploration and individual exploration: by discovering the land, the individual also discovers himself. Self-exploration and geographical exploration came together.

With the change of the colonies and their social needs, there was also a change in writings. The writer’s role now consisted of more than observing and depicting the land.

At the end of the 17th century, American literature still showed the discovery of literature: same themes, same lyricism, poetic quality and sense of actions but despite this influence, a more abstract type of literature was now emerging.

For instance, William Bradford’s Of Plymouth Plantation (1630-1650) concentrates on the complexity and difficulties of colonial administration as well as the social organization of the community.

In the final analysis, the ambivalence of exploration and discovery in American literature reveals another kind of ambivalence. It is the ambivalent relationship but also the ambivalent contrast between the positive and the negative, good and evil, utopia and tragedy.

This type of ambivalence remains the most characteristic territory explored by the first writers of America. Emerging from the magnitude and the complexity of the land itself, this ambivalent vision would determine the American literary and popular imagination.

Even today, it still represents a very important aspect of the American literary sensibility.

An authentically American literature? Textual appropriations, generic influences and innovations

To many observers, the idea of an authentically American literature seems to be a paradox. Many would think American literature emerged and developed in the shadow of the English literary tradition. However, this paradox is only apparent: the authentically American literature is like every literary innovation, it always needs some influences for inspiration.

At the same time, those influences are little by little changed through authentic innovations (first they borrowed, then they changed). In this sense, literary texts of the New World are both an extension of English literature and a new creative body of literature.

The relationship of continuity between English and American literature comes from a common cultural and national heritage: religious, ethnic, historical, and linguistic relationships.

There are some similarities between English and American education: in both countries, the major subjects like Latin, Philosophy and History are very important (as well as Greek and Roman literature).

Concerning the common heritage, both people and colonists shred the memory of the English Reformation and thought of themselves as elect nations.

With the Reformation, we see the myth of England as an elect nation divided by the Puritan Saints. They were a special nation from the start: “God owns the country”.

The colonists and the English people identified with the myth of the elect nation by means of religion: the most important and legitimate text was the Vernacular Bible (Geneva version) in 1560 written by Calvin. Other texts:

  • John Foxe, Book of Martyrs (1563)
  • Edmund Spencer, Faerie Queen (1590)

More important: what happened from the heritage is a common vision of the individual reflected in two major aspects of the protestant literary and existential experience:

  • The strict application of every event in the Bible to the individual (develop their own ideas in relation to the Bible, the standard for the right personal behavior and code for the Puritans).
  • The perception of historical events as the predestined fulfillment of biblical events as they apply to the elect nation.

These two common aspects of colonial and English experience made many English writers to consider America as a special and elect land. Many thought that an English/American Reformation was going to happen in America.

The English religious poet George Herbert expressed this historical and religious continuity between England and America:

“Religion stands on tiptoe in our
Readie to pass the American
Strand” ….The Temple, 1633

No surprise that the sense of a shared heritage came from a common imaginary perception of the New World: religion shaped perceptions. One of imaginary vision of America is the myth of Arcadia that shows a contrast between peaceful, simple life in nature and corruption in city life. [Nature is always seen as positive].

The myth of arcadia is found in many pastoral poems and romances and in Sir Philip Sidney’s Arcadia (1590). America is not a secular utopia and is inseparable from the biblical visions of the continent as a new Eden or a new Israel (parallel between the Puritan’s crossing of the ocean and the exodus of Moses’s people).

The myth of America as a new Eden is finally restored to its innocence. It was also reinforced by the English literary tradition of utopia:

  • Thomas More, Utopia (1516)
  • Francis Bacon, New Atlantis (1626)

The conception of America also finds its way into Puritanism for the notion of the holy community was also a kind of utopia. The prose forms that appeared during the English Reformation had a tremendous influence on American literature.

The most important of those prose forms is the sermon, influenced by the religious community, which became a biblical sensibility. In poetry as well as in prose, the writers of New England appropriated biblical references, imagery, and themes.

They used biblical imagery and themes in order to represent historical events as a realization of the Protestant world vision. The other forms of literary production existed in colonial America: poetry and prose about the analysis and the exploration of the individual (mind, body, and soul): introduction of the meditation, journal, diary, (auto) biography, and lyric poetry. Purpose: self-improvement and self-help.

The world vision of Protestantism is presented as a central element in judging individual human experience. The most important criteria of self-judgment derived from the Bible: literature of introspection and self-exploration:

The narrative of the Exodus: very beginning of America and hope to reach a better land.

Paul’s metaphors on Christian pilgrimages and warfare: must go to a better place.

The conception of the Christian life as “a progress of the soul” (Hebrews, 8). Progress = work.

The psalms as an account of David’s sins and repentance.


From the beginning, American literature simultaneously assimilated and transformed English culture and literature. During the colonial period, the writers of the New World were obsessed with the same themes as English writers.

They used the same literary forms and biblical metaphors that predominated in English literature during the Reformation.

However, American literature must not be reduced to a simple transplant of English literature for in the process of this American transplantation, American literature emerged metamorphosed in innovative and fascinating ways.

Desiderata photo


Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender
be on good terms with all persons.

Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs;
for the world is full of trickery.

But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.

But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy.

Max Ehrmann, Desiderata, 1952.