The Little French English Improvement Project

little french person trying to improve her english, little french english person trying to improve herself, french english person trying to improve a little bit… and blogging along the way. (Now in Deutschland)

Posts Tagged ‘random thoughts’

Quote… unquote.

Posted by Alice Challet - alicethefrog on February 6, 2012

There I was reading my book the other day when I saw this:

McLuhan, page 54 of Understanding media: “…as if the central nervous system could no longer depend on the physical organs to be protective buffers against the slings and arrows of outrageous mechanism.”

Did you see it? I saw it. Hurray!  I am an educated woman. The sort who can notice a reference to Shakespeare in a modern text without a literature teacher having to point a chalky finger over her shoulder and leaving a little white mark on the page. It felt so good! I basked for a little while in the glowing warmth of self-satisfaction before realising how pathetic I was. Not only was this a reference to the most famous speech in Shakespeare’s most famous work, but the only reason I knew it is because one day in school I just randomly decided to learn said speech off by heart. Did I do so in order to be a more refined, educated person? No. I wanted to show off. How unscholarly. What’s more, if McLuhan did just happily pepper his book with quotations, Shakespearian or otherwise, he surely hadn’t limited himself to one from Hamlet on page 54. I had spotted one; how many had I missed? It would seem after all I am not the sort of person capable of floating from one text to the next in what the French call transtextualité.

So I wonder: how do the other people do it? You know when you listen to the radio or watch politicians on TV. There they all are, debating away when all of a sudden it happens: one of them says something and pauses. Just a second. The rest nod with knowing glances and smile and you know. You just know you’ve missed out on something. You look around nervously. Did the other people in the room get it? Ears peeled you listen and hear a ripple flowing through the BBC radio 4 audience. Did they really get it? Or are they just trying to sound clever? It could just be some obscure reference but all of a sudden, doubt creeps in: could it have been obvious? Are you the only one who doesn’t know? Often a benevolent chairman will kindly clear things up as subtly as they can: “Mr. N., you were just quoting Voltaire I believe… would you say his opinions on Utopia are still…”. And they always get it right.

But HOW? I mean surely they can’t know ahead of time what their panel might come up with. How can they keep in mind everything every politician has said over the past eight years, and everything every second politician has said during the eight years before that? Not to mention every passage from every significant book and article ever written. Some even manage to fit in a couple of pop culture references in there too, before conjuring up musicians, artists, filmmakers and figures from greek and norse mythology. And this database grows daily; with the media capturing every minute of everything, everyone is given the chance to speak out and have their dose of nonsense filed into the global archive. How do chairmen and women keep up?

Do they have the entire Encyclopedia Britannica and the Oxford Companion to literature digitalized and saved in their brains in zeroes and ones, and maybe a live connection to ever-growing wikipedia, wikiquote, wiktionary etc?

Or maybe I’m just stupid.

Posted in Life, Studying, Work | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Cold

Posted by Alice Challet - alicethefrog on January 16, 2012

Yes I will be talking about the weather.

We had the most amazing sunshine today, a proper crisp winter day that just felt lke a proper crisp winter morning, only played over three times in a row. The light held its slanty sharpness, the grass stayed white until evening come. It was sunny but I could not feel it, just see it ; the warmth of it was swept away by this tiny wind before it had time to settle on my cheeks. Nevertheless it was comforting standing there on a frozen puddle, loooking at the light through the branches, through my eyelashes, through my eyelids, and thinking how I could use all this in terms of blogging.

And then I got home and settled down to write, full of cold thoughts and frosty ideas (and it had nothing to do with a t-shirt wearing tiger) when our neighbour came knocking; her heating did not seem to be working, was ours? After we do all share one boiler. We went down to the cellar and sure enough: no huff, puff or other heating-related noise was to be heard. Only thing that was working: the wireless connection to the outside thermometre, indicating -1ºC (now -4). Handy.

Extra blankets anyone?

Posted in Germany, Life | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »