Category Archives: French

lES MALADIES MENTALES? MENTAL ILLNESS, DOES IT EXIST?

Français then English, paragraph by paragraph.

Pourquoi Il ne faut pas accepter les diagnostics de la Psychiatrie, ou

La normalité n’existe pas!

Bien que les psys parlent des maladies mentales comme si elles vraiment existent, les termes qu’ils utilisent nous montrent que les maladies mentales sont imaginaires et mythiques. Comme tout le monde le sait, les constellations célestes ne sont qu’imaginaire et ce qui constitue Orion pour l’Ouest, c’est quelque chose de différent dans l’Est, qui utilise tout à fait différemment des éléments célestes. Les psys utilisent ce terme aussi, “les constellations”, et ils ont construit leurs constellations d’une manière complètement analogue.

Although shrinks speak of mental illnesses as if they really exist, the terms they use show us that in fact “mental illnesses” are imaginary, the stuff of myths. As everyone knows, the nighttime sky is made up of constellations that are imaginary and that what constitutes Orion for the western world would be meaningless to someone in the east. The Chinese have a zodiac but it is entirely different from ours. Shrinks use this term also, constellations and they have constructed their constellations of mental illness in an entirely analogous fashion.

Parmi des centaines de comportements humaines, la conférence du DSM, composé de  psys, a choisi ceux qui vont ensemble (mais pas toujours et pas tout le temps) pour constituer une maladie mentale comme la schizophrénie ou la bipolarité ou la dépression. Comme dans les menus des restaurants chinois on choisit quelque chose de chaque groupe de symptômes — on peut être trop agité ou trop léthargique, ou on peut entendre des voix ou avoir des pensées “différentes” qu’on étiquette les délires, ou on peut faire les choses trop vite ou trop lentement etc— mais en utilisant une formule de leur création, en trouvant ces constellations dans les personnes/ patientes les psys peuvent alors diagnostiquer n’importe qui.

Among the hundreds of human behaviors possible, the committee of the DSM, all shrinks, have chosen those behaviors, (called symptoms but they are really just behaviors ) that go together —but not always and not all the time—to make up a mental illness like schizophrenia or bipolar or depression. Just as we choose food at a Chinese restaurant, or used to, they choose something from certain groups of symptoms — one can be too agitated or too lethargic, one can hear voices or have delusions, or one can do things or speak too fast or too slow etc — but using a formula they created, finding these constellations in the people who visit them, their patients, these shrinks can then diagnose anyone at all.

La chose la plus importante à savoir c’est qu’exactement comme les motifs ou dessins imposés dans le ciel que nous appelons les constellations célestes, ces constellations psychiatriques sont basées dans l’imaginations (assez limitées) des médecins du DSM. Les constellations célestes n’existent que dans les histoires et les mythes grecs, c’est à dire dans l’imagination, et le fait que tout le monde les voit dans le ciel ne dit qu’une chose, c’est que nous avons appris à les voir. Mais nous voyons les constellations psychiatriques et les maladies mentales parce que nous avons appris les voir. Mais elles existent seulement parce que nous les avons accepté sur parole et leur réalité de plus. Nous nous sommes dit, « oui, ce que je vois, c’est une chose réelle cette constellation, cette maladie mentale, et je suis d’accord. » Mais les chinois ne voient pas Orion, n’est-ce pas? 

The most important thing to know is that exactly like the imaginary drawings superimposed on the starry sky, psychiatric constellations are also based in the imaginations (perhaps rather limited) of the DSM committee shrinks. The celestial constellations only exist in the stories and myths of the Greeks, which is to say, they are imaginary and the fact that everyone in the west “sees” them only suggests one thing, that we have been taught to see them, these artificial groupings. But we “see” psychiatric constellations, the so called mental illnesses, only because we have also learned to “see” them. Their reality depends on the fact that we have been taught to see them and accept their “reality”. We have said to ourselves, “yes, what I see, it’s something real, this constellation, this mental illness,  yes, I agree.”

But ask yourself, do the Chinese “see” Orion? And if not why not?

Et il ne faut pas voir ou accepter l’existence réelle des choses, des constellations ou des maladies mentales. Si on disait que faire les choses vite ou lentement, ce n’est pas un symptôme mais juste une différence humaine, qu’entendre des voix ou que voir les choses imaginaires, c’est un don pas un symptôme, et que ces deux tendances ne sont pas liées dans une constellation pathologique, les soi-disant maladies mentales se révèleraient ensuite n’être rien de plus que de l’imagination, une fantaisie peut être, mais une création imaginaire de psychiatrie, quelque chose qui n’a jamais existé vraiment.  

It is not necessary to either see or accept as real these celestial constellations or the psychiatric ones, called mental Illnesses. If we said, for example, that doing things fast or slow, that’s not a “symptom” just a human difference between people, if we said that hearing voices or thinking different thoughts is a gift rather than a symptom, and that these human differences are not somehow inextricably linked in a pathological “constellation”, the so called mental illnesses would reveal themselves to be nothing but imaginary, a fantasy perhaps, but fundamentally an imaginary creation of psychiatry, something that actually never existed.

La prochaine fois je vais discuter la réalité de la souffrance mentale, qui n’est pas la même chose qu’une maladie mentale.

Next time I will discuss the reality of mental suffering, which is not the same thing as a “mental illness.” 

WHAT TO EAT ? QUOI MANGEZ-VOUS?

French version first. English version just below it.

 Manger ou ne pas manger des animaux

Ce qu’on mange le soir ou pendant la journée — ça compte, et pas juste pour l’individu mais pour la planète entière. Si on choisit de manger ou de ne pas manger la chair des animaux, c’est une question sur laquelle repose notre avenir en tant qu’êtres humains, et l’avenir de la plupart des espèces des animaux aussi. 

Je vais commencer avec les arguments contre la consommation de viande, ou peut-être pour mieux dire, les arguments pour la consommation des plantes seulement. Il y en a trois, principalement: la cruauté, l’environnement, et la bonne santé. 

D’abord l’argument de la cruauté: la plupart des gens ne mangent pas les animaux qui, après avoir mené une  vie heureuse dans les verts pâturages, sont tués d’une manière douce. Non, notre bœuf, notre poulet, et notre porc (et aussi notre poisson!) viennent des fermes-usines, et les animaux après avoir vécu leur vie dans des conditions épouvantables et surpeuplées souffrent d’être tués cruellement. On doit espérer que leur  mort leur apportent quelque soulagement, mais je crois que les gens qui continuent de manger de la viande ne le feraient plus si ils devaient visiter une ferme-usine et regarder les animaux lorsqu’ils sont en train d’être tués. Une telle cruauté peut exister et continuera à exister seulement tant qu’elle peut être cachée, tant que nous pouvons l’ignorer.

Le deuxième argument en faveur de manger des plantes seulement concerne l’environnement. L’élevage des animaux pour nous nourrir est quelque chose qui utilise trop de carbone, trop d’énergie, et ça coûte à l’environnement. De plus, les vaches émettent trop de gaz à effet de serre comme le méthane, et nous leur donnons à manger des céréales qui auraient pu nous nourrir. L’élevage des animaux juste pour que nous puissions les manger représente une grosse perte de temps et d’argent et d’énergie.

Le point finale concerne la santé. Plusieurs personnes diront qu’il faut manger de la viande pour la santé, insistant que sans manger de la viande on ne peut pas obtenir assez de protéines. Mais ce n’est pas du tout vrai. Chaque espèce de légume et céréale a des acides aminés. On ne doit que les combiner prudemment. D’ailleurs, on a montré maintes fois que de manger de viande nous nuit, avec trop de cholestérol, trop de graisses saturées et pas assez de vitamines et de fibre pour notre bonne santé. En outre, quand on mange de la viande on risque des maladies cardiaques et des artères obstruées. 

Vraiment pourquoi manger de la viande? Il n’y a qu’une raison aujourd’hui, le goût. Le goût est indéniablement agréable, au moins pour ceux qui ont grandi en mangeant de la viande et ont appris à l’aimer. Mais on peut apprendre à aimer les légumes autant que la viande, et on peut apprendre à réserver le goût de la viande aux occasions spéciales comme des anniversaires. Comme le gâteau, la viande doit devenir seulement une rare gourmandise, pas quelque chose de la vie quotidienne.

Enfin, on peut faire le choix d’une comportement plus humaine, de la bonne santé, de la protection de la planète, ou du goût quotidien de la chair des animaux tués, et toutes les choses qui s’en suivront. 

Alors, qu’est-ce que vous allez manger ce soir?

ENGLISH VERSION, (published in the Brattleboro Reformer 12/2020)

 What you eat for supper, or during the day matters, and not just for the individual but for the entire planet.  Whether we choose to eat or not to eat the flesh of other animals is something on which our future as human beings rests, and the future of most species of animals as well.

 I’ll start with the arguments against eating meat, or maybe better put, the arguments for eating only plants.  Basically, there are three: cruelty, the environment, and health.

 First, the cruelty argument: when we consume meat, most people are not eating animals that have been killed in a painless humane fashion, after having led lives of contentment in lush green pastures.  No, our beef, our chicken, and our pork (and also our fish) come from factory farms, and the animals are killed after living lives crammed together in unspeakably miserable conditions.  Hopefully their deaths bring some relief, but I believe people who continue to eat meat would no longer do so if they had to visit a factory farm and watch these animals being killed.  Such cruelty can and will continue to exist only as long as it remains hidden away so we can ignore it.

 The second argument for a plant-based diet is the environment.  Raising animals for food uses too much carbon, too much energy, and that has an effect on the environment.  In addition, cows emit many greenhouse gases, methane among them, and we feed them the grains that could have fed us.  Raising animals — cruelly, for the most part, mind you— just so that we can eat them is a huge waste of time and money and involves the expenditure of excessive carbon energy.

 The final point is health.  Many people would argue that eating meat is necessary for one’s health, insisting that without meat one cannot get enough protein.  But that is not true. Yes, animal flesh contains “complete protein” but our bodies have to break this cow or chicken or fish protein down to its amino acids in order to re-construct the proteins in human bodies. What is more, every species of vegetable and all the grains contain amino acids, these same building blocks of protein.  As vegans and vegetarians have shown for a long time, one need only prudently combine them to get “enough protein”.  In fact, we have seen how often eating meat causes problems, as it contains too much cholesterol, too much saturated fat and not enough vitamins and fiber for anyone’s good health. It is precisely because of these factors that when we eat meat we risk heart disease and blocked arteries.

Why eat meat?  There is only one reason today: the taste (called umami) and mouthfeel of meat is undeniably unique. Those who grew up as I did, eating meat, learned to love it. But appreciating the taste of meat is just something one learns, just as one learns to love vegetables— by familiarity. One can learn to prepare vegetables just as lovingly as meat; it is a choice we make, but one with profound consequences. We need to learn to enjoy the taste of meat or fish only on special holidays like birthdays and just like birthday cake, meat or fish should become a rare treat in our lives, not something consumed everyday.

 In the end, one can choose for a kinder life, for good health, and for the planet, or one can choose to eat meat, to consume the flesh of animals raised and killed for that purpose, and everything that follows from such a choice.  

What are you eating for dinner tonight?

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I would add to this also an argument against eating eggs, since that too ends with the non-laying hen being eaten and if you don’t know what happens to all the boy chickens, the roosters, if you even wonder, you should look into it. After all half of all chicks are male, and most are seen as useless…so think about that when you eat a supposedly free range farm egg. No eggs are ever truly cruelty free.

Poeme: Rondel #2 (edited)

BAH FUMISTERIE!

Je n’aime pas les jours de fêtes

Dont toute l’année paraît remplie,

Toutes les choses inaccomplies,

Les choix, qui terminent en défaite,

Des surprises toujours imparfaites

Achetées en pleine frénésie,

Je n’aime pas les jours de fêtes

Dont toute l’année parait remplie.

Même Noel, la fête surfaite,

Est devenu une maladie  

De trop d’achats faits à crédit.

Tout ça me laisse insatisfaite.

Je n’aime pas les jours de fêtes.

translation:

BAH HUMBUG!

I dont much like holidays

With which the year seems filled

Everything left undone

Ending in defeat, my choice

Of surprises all imperfect

Bought in a frenzy

I don’t much like holidays

With which the year seems filled

Even Christmas that day of excess

Has become an illness,

too much bought on credit

All this leaves me unsatisfied.

I don’t much like holidays.

Poème

RONDEL

(mon premier essai après avoir lu le “Rondel” de Charles Guinot et d’autres poètes.)

L’automne a dérobé le vert  

Dans lequel l’été s’habille

Ses bruns et roux deviennent, l’hiver,

Des blancs sur toutes les brindilles

Il faut les neiges de l’hiver

Pour les roses et les jonquilles

L’automne doit dérober le vert  

Dans lequel l’été s’habille

Les blancs gelés retournent aux verts

Des fleurs décorent les brindilles 

Il fait chaud, le soleil brille…

Mais tout changera vers son contraire.  

L’automne va dérober le vert  

Dans lequel l’été s’habille.

Eng trans

Autumn has stolen the green in which summer dresses itself

it’s browns and russets become winter whites on all the twigs

winter snows are necessary for roses and daffodils to grow

Autumn must steal the green in which summer dresses

frozen whites will turn to greens, flowers adorn the twigs

it’s warm, the sun shines, but all changes to its opposite

autumn will steal the green in which summer dresses.

Mon Séjour à Sancerre, Learning French at Coeur de France

First, the little slide show of the town of Sancerre, cobbled together mostly from photos I took:

i just spent the month of October at the amazing French language school Coeur de France in Sancerre, learning or at least improving my French, which I started relearning — after only a high school’s acquaintance with the language — about a year ago at the age of 65. Despite what i felt was my own unfortunate lack of grammar basics, I placed into an advanced level class but the class was so tiny at four students that we made huge progress. Group classes with the delightful Valerie, for the first two weeks I was at Coeur de France, were followed by two weeks of individual instruction. Despite the pace and intensity of learning immersion French, I had a ball, for the most part.

This was literally my first trip anywhere of significance since childhood, and certainly my first all alone to a foreign country. I looked forward to it, and chose Coeur de France on the basis of its emphasis on encouraging students to speak French as much as possible and because of its 250+ positive reviews at Trip Advisor! But no less because of its comprehensive and reassuring website, which hid nothing from prospective students, and even gave detailed and accurate instructions on how Americans can best reach the school, which as its name suggests, is located smack dab in the center of France.  (Okay, maybe and perhaps unwittingly since clearly they are used to it, the website neglects to mention the steepness of the hill upon which the school sits, a hill I had to climb each and every morning, rain…rain… or rain!) Everything the website says about the school is true and I experienced it personally, from the lovely apartments rented to students to the amazing and skilled teachers and the low key but convivial atmosphere. And in fact though there was rain very frequently, the clouds often parted to give dazzling views and allow photo taking.

To give one small example of the welcome extended, a vase of a half dozen coral-colored roses awaited each new student in the kitchen of their new temporary home.

This I just had to paint, but except for pencil sketches I did not otherwise do a lot of art while at the école.

 

i also drew the school from the popular side view. And some students in Veronique’s cooking class. (The school drawing in pen and ink is not yet finished.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

i had a hard time with jet lag at first and it took me a good week to recover, not to mention to get used to the climb up that steep hill for ten minutes each morning. But by the third week it had become easy and I scarcely thought about the incline any longer. Thank heavens I had quit smoking a few months in advance, as it would  have been hell to both want to smoke and struggle to climb the hill each morning.

By the third week, too, I had come to terms with my not being able to participate in the school’s social life and activities. Largely because I was just too tired but also because such things are not enjoyable for me. I loved having one-to-one lessons the second half of my stay then going “home” to my apartment (Le Jardin) to be alone and “do my thing”. I felt that the location of my particular apartment kept me isolated from other students, too, at first, but I ceased caring once I acknowledged that I really was there to learn French and not to meet a lot of new friends…

More difficult by far was my needing to enter French stores and other enterprises. I have a hard enough time with this in the US so it was doubly hard in France. Luckily my wonderful and highly skilled one-to-one teacher, Sabrina, came to my rescue, and we went on various missions each day to get me more Familiar with the process. With Sabrina’s help I learned to enter the boulangerie and say, “Bonjour Madame!” almost fearlessly as time went on. I even went to the store that sold used books and asked the propriétaire if he could choose a couple for me “pas trop facile”. He thought at first I meant “not too difficult” but I had in fact intended to say, “not too easy” and when he understood this, he handed me a book. (The bizarre thing was that I was already reading that very same book! Given all the millions of books in print, what are the odds of that? ) I said so and he chose two others, then I bid him adieu and left, my heart lighter by factors of ten than it had been.

This trip was difficult in many ways. Many old fears reared their heads and did not let go till I departed, but I was also supremely happy almost every day I spent there. Coming home has brought paralysis and even a kind of despondency. But a French tutor i speak with (she is in Tunisia) sent me an article about “le déprime du retour” or the dépression in coming home, and knowing that this is a recognized phenomenon helps me feel better. It will pass, as everything does.

This was the trip of a lifetime and I might never have gone. It was only after Lynnie died that I understood how tenuous and iffy life is, and decided to actually go to France, try out my language skills, seeing as how French was the fifth miracle of my life. But will I go again next year? Truth is, I had refused even to consider travelling before Lynnie’s death, as I know that flying contributes a huge amount to global warming. Like that 16-year- old climate activist, Greta Thunberg, i too felt it incumbent upon me not to travel by air, amd to use my car as little as possible. I still feel that way…so while I understand that travel and tourism provide much needed jobs for people, we will all be seeking more than jobs if the temperature increases by the anticipated additional 2 degrees centigrade. What’s the point of the travel industry when half the world is drowning and the other half is on fire? I believe all will have to make drastic changes at some point…I choose to voluntarily make some changes in my lifestyle now rather than having them forced on me by global climate catastrophe. *

 

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*( If there’s one thing I know it’s that life is full of surprises, so if I started selling my art successfully I might speak and even feel differently)

Poème en Français (and translated)

I have not shared here how utterly in love with the French language I  have become. Last July, and I do not even remember exactly what happened but something did…last July I fell head over heels in love with French and all things Français. Like my other full blown long-term passions — field botany was the first, then poetry, then ——, then art, and now French — the transformation from someone who a few minutes before had no use for whatever it was — French in this case — into someone wildly passionate and devoted to the object of her desires happened in the space of moments. It was as usual truly like a religious “conversion experience”, no other expression adequately expresses this sort of Road to Damascus lightning strike experience. One minute I was just going along, doing art of course, and passionate about it, but having zilch interest in French…then with a nearly audible WHOMP! everything changes, as it changed last July and I literally transformed from someone who was at best lukewarm towards French, and France, to someone passionately in love!

 

i will write more about such experiences another time. (And never fear, my passion for art remains. ) but for now I wanted to share this poem, originally written in English for my book, LEARNING TO SEE IN THREE DIMENSIONS, but which last night I was moved to try to translate. If you perhaps are francophone and even a native speaker, I would LOVE any criticism or critique you might provide for how the French actually sounds to someone who knows it well.

 

Be that as it may, the translation in English, that is to say, the original version, is also below.

 

AU LECTEUR

qui pourrait être assis, comme moi,

dans un fauteuil vert, un thé à la main

regardant à travers de la porche

jusqu’au lampadaire  sans lumière au dehors du restaurant,

livre sur les genoux, le mien j’espérerais,

le seul livre que je dois évoquer

si j’évoque aucun livre dans un poème,

au lecteur, le méticuleux,

qui pourrait être se demandant pourquoi

sur la page 47 il y a deux « et »

l’un après l’autre, et à qui est la faute,

et au lecteur qui est peut-être fatigué

après un long trajet en bus chez lui

après un repas qui ne valait rien,

un lecteur qui ramasse mon livre, mais s’endort

avant de l’ouvrir, à tous je dis : Pardonnez-moi

je ne suis qu’une écrivaine, assise

dans un fauteuil vert, un thé à la main,

je ne peux pas expliquer ces deux « et »

ni le lampadaire mystérieux

ni réchauffer les pieds d’un lecteur fatigué

dans son lit. Je ne peux que mettre la musique

et raconter histoires

pour que des films tournent dans la tête,

pour le réveiller avec la compréhension soudaine

que c’est la poésie qui peut faire achever la vie,

eh bien, il peut faire achever ma vie au moins,

et peut être la sienne, et peut-être la vie

d’un méticuleux, et votre vie aussi,

tous ici assis, regardant à travers de la porche

jusqu’au lampadaire  sans lumière,

là où ce qui se passe si mystérieusement

est de la poésie –

et la nuit entière est enveloppée

dans les mots dits par deux étrangers

qui là se rencontrent,

ou peut-être les mots non-dits,

ce qui est de la poésie aussi,

et tous qui écoutent, nous attendons

la musique de ce qui se passera.

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TO THE reader

who may be sitting as I am

in a green recliner with a cup of tea

staring out through the porch

to a darkened streetlamp outside the diner,

with a book in her lap, mine, I hope

the only one I feel I should have to mention

if I mention a book in a poem I write;

to the reader, the nitpicker, the one

who may be wondering why

on p. 47 there are two ands, one

right after another, and whose fault that is;

and to the reader, who may be tired

after a long ride home on the bus

after dark and a meal not worth mentioning

who picks up my book but finds his eyes

closing before he has opened the cover,

I say: Forgive me

I am only a writer sitting in a green recliner

with a cup of tea, I can’t explain

those two ands or the mysterious

streetlamp or warm the feet of a tired

reader in his bed. I can only put music on

and tell him stories to make movies

turn in his head, to let him wake

with the sudden understanding that poetry

may be all it takes to make a life—

well, my life at any rate, and maybe his,

and maybe the nitpicker’s and yours, too,

staring through the porch to the streetlamp

where what happens so mysteriously ispoetry—

and the whole night is wrapped

in the words spoken by two strangers

meeting there, or not spoken, which is poetry too,

and all of us who listen are waiting

for the music of what is to happen.

M.