Tawara Machi
L'Anniversaire de la salade

L’Anniversaire de la salade (サラダ記念日)

Tawara Machi
L'Anniversaire de la salade

俵万智の『サラダ記念日』はフランス語の翻訳を読みました。フランス語けれど奇麗な短歌の文集です日本語で読みたいです。

J’ai lu la traduction française de « L’Anniversaire de la salade » de Machi Tawara. Malgré la traduction, c’est un très beau recueil de tanka, j’aurais voulu pouvoir le lire en français. Le tanka est une forme de poésie japonaise plus ancienne que la haïku, qui suit la structure 5-7-5-7-7, c’est à dire qu’il est composé de cinq unités avec le nombre correspondant de more (l’unité phonétique en japonais).

L’Anniversaire de la salade
Tawara Machi
Traduction: Yves-Marie Aillioux
Picquier Poche
ISBN : 978-2-8097-0218-7

La poésie de Machi Tawara mélange un respect strict des règles de poésie avec un style léger et un mélange de vocabulaire formel et ancien avec des mots récents. Le titre est un exemple typique de ce mélange : サラダ(salada) est un mot d’origine occidentale écrit en katakana, 記念日(kinenbi) est un mot assez formel, généralement écrit en kanji. Le résultat est un texte léger et poétique, qui évoque avec délicatesse les sentiments d’une jeune femme et m’a fait penser aux nouvelles de Banana Yoshimoto. En conclusion, une lecture que je recommande, même si vous n’êtes pas particulièrement féru de poésie.

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Inju
La bête dans l'Ombre
Un film de Barbet Schröder

陰獣 / Inju : la Bête dans l’ombre

Inju
La bête dans l'Ombre
Un film de Barbet Schröder

時々変な理由から映画を見ます。友達は「この映画で見られる町が京都じゃない金沢だ」と言いてから陰獣のディーブイディーを貸して貰いました。金沢です。初めて見られる道理は野町です主人公は金沢の兼六園で美人な玉緒とあいます。フランス人の男優は悪くてそれでどんな時代の日本を見られる謎です:今の車我が道理で皆が着物を着けます。話が予測できて遅くて映画ままと思いますが金沢を見られたから嬉しかったです。

De temps en temps, je regarde un film pour des raisons étranges. Après qu’une amie m’ait dit que la ville qu’on peut y voir n’est pas Kyōto, mais Kanazawa, je lui ai emprunté le DVD de Inju : la Bête dans l’ombre. C’est Kanazawa. Les rues que l’on peut voir au début du film sont à Nomachi, et le héros rencontre la belle Masao dans le Kenrokuen. L’acteur qui joue le héros français est mauvais au point que je me suis dit que ce film pourrait être la base d’un prochain OSS 117. Le japon que l’on voit dans ce film se situe dans une époque mystérieuse, il y a des voitures d’aujourd’hui, mais tout le monde est en kimono. L’histoire est prévisible, et lente, et j’ai trouvé le film médiocre, mais j’étais content, j’ai pu revoir Kanazawa.

From time to time, I watch a movie for strange reasons. After a friend told me that the city you can see in the background is not Kyōto, but Kanazawa, I borrowed the DVD of Inju: the Beast in the Shadow from her. It is indeed Kanazawa. The street you can see in the beginning is Nomachi, and the hero meets the beautiful Masao in the Kenrokuen. The actor playing the french hero is lousy, what time this movie plays in is a mystery: today’s car, but everybody wears a kimono in the street. The story is predictable and slow, and I found the movie quite bad, still I was happy as I saw Kanazawa again.

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XKCD: Craigslist Apartments – Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.5 License

House of Leaves

XKCD: Craigslist Apartments – Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.5 License

I more or less finished reading House of Leaves. I write more or less because there are still annexes, footnotes I have not read yet, I’m not sure that I will read them. So what is House of leaves? From the wikipedia to the back cover, all snippets proclaim this is the début of Mark Z. Danielewski for me it was first the book XCKD was making fun of all the time, for all the typographic play that happens in the book, you would expect that somebody would figure out the correct accent for début

The book has a complex structure, with three main stories, one in the main text flow, the second in the footnotes, the third in a sequence of letters in annex. The main text is the analysis of the The Navidson Record, a documentary about a strange house. The first level of footnotes (there are more) tells the story of Johnny Truant, who has recovered the manuscript of the above, and slowly sinks into madness. The letters are the ones Johnny’s mother sent him when he was a kid. Each narrative has a different layout, a different font.

Like Se una notte d’inverno un viaggiatore by Italo Calvino, this is a book about books, House of Leaves just has more of everything: pages, parallel narrations, footnotes, references typographic tricks and quirks. Readers familiar with Terry Pratchet’s Diskworld novels know that in those books, death speaks in capital letters, House of Leaves is full of this: each time the word house (or its equivalent in another language) appears in the text, it is slightly knocked off the line and in dark gray (other editions use different colours). The author plays with the various levels of a book: narration, translation, typography, layout. The text is choke full with codes: acrostic, morse, braille, but also references, quotes (including one from Woz) and analyses.

House of Leaves
Mark Z. Danielewski
Books At Transworld
ISBN : 978-0-385-60310-2

The core issue of the book is that by having clever bits all over the place, the actual story becomes dull and slow. By half of the book, I started to feel the tricks were a bit all in the same vein. I liked the various interviews though, and the part where Johnny writes with long s (ſ) characters made me chuckle.
While I got some of the hidden things, they were not subtle enough to be completely ignored. So while the back-cover claims that it is distressingly scary, I was never really involved enough to be scared, and comparing this book to the works of Poe is just plain silly. Fear is not a feeling you can associate with the act of checking cross-references. In conclusion, a interesting book and a fun intellectual exercice, but in my opinion the book is way too long and too wrapped up in its cleverness to be a really effective story.

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Chargement par les voyageurs

Il fait beau et chaud sur le quai de la gare Cornavin, on se croirait en été. Le train arrive, le chargement commence. Il y a mille manières d’aller de Genève à Zürich, ma préférée est par le train, avec un vélo. Le dernier wagon de la rame n’est pas comme les autres : c’est là que son chargés enfants et vélos. Il y a de la place pour six vélos, à partir de Lausanne, il y en aura le double, et trois poussettes, et beaucoup de bagages.

Le train démarre alors que les vélos ne sont pas encore arrimés, une gamine n’a pas placé la roue avant du sien correctement dans la boucle qui devrait le maintenir, il glisse, un catadioptre se brise, elle commence à pleurer. Sa mère console, rassure « cela fait partie de l’aventure d’un tour à vélo ». Elle a raison, les gens s’entraident, placent au mieux les vélos, les bagages, selon qui sortira du train où. Le chaos est grand, mais tout le monde est aimable, sourit. Tous les sièges sont occupés et nul ne prétend qu’un sac mérite une place assise. Seul un romand à l’accent trainard n’a pas compris, refuse que l’on plie sa trottinette, pourtant, lui n’a certainement pas payé extra pour charger son deux roues. Le train grimpe vers le pays de Fribourg, en face de moi une femme allaite son nourrisson, son conjoint essaye de construire un auvent contre le soleil, cherche à boire ailleurs dans le train.

Je devrais en vouloir aux CFF, qui pourraient bien alléger ce joyeux chaos, ajouter un vieux fourgon à bagage pour qu’on puisse y charger tous ces deux roues et ces poussettes, mais peut-être est-ce mieux ainsi, une petit dose d’humanité et d’aventure dans chaque train…

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Cover of Cyberpunk 2013 ⓒ Talsorian Games Inc.

Cyberpunk days

Cover of Cyberpunk 2013 ⓒ Talsorian Games Inc.

Today the weather is beautiful: sunny and warm, there is green and flowers everywhere. While the ambiance does not really fit, I realised that I now live in a cyberpunk world. As regular reader of this blog might have guessed, I read quite a lot of science-fiction, and cyberpunk literature has a special part in my heart. Mostly this has to do with the fact that it was new when I was a teenager, and therefore way better than anything ever done before.

Despite what some deluded physicist believe, science-fiction is not so much about science than about ideas – if you want science, read hard-science. Whereas classical science fiction was usually set far in the future to concentrate on one idea, alien life forms, robots, exotic conflicts, or strange societies, cyberpunk stories were usually set in the near future, and concentrated on themes closer to reality: globalisation, advanced computer science, powerful corporations.

In the eighties, the near future was basically now – the setting for the first Cyberpunk RPG was 2013. During the last twenty years, something really strange happened: a lot of the stuff predicted in those books happened. This is strange, because not many of the ideas underlying the classical science-fiction literature have ever become reality. We have the communication satellite envisioned by Arthur C. Clarke, but not much more. No spaceship: the last space shuttles went out of active service this year. I have two robots, but while they are quite good at sweeping the floor, they really have no clue about the laws of robotics. While there have been tremendous improvements in genetical science, the most interesting mutation around is the ability to digest milk, and it has been around for some time. While obesity is one the rise, nobody is about to morph into a sand worm…

Considering this, many cyberpunk predictions were pretty accurate:

  • Overreaching corporations that influence nations: ✔
  • Arab countries getting on the net in their own way: ✔
  • Europe a single economical entity: ✔
  • Economical collapse of countries, including the USA: ✔
  • Huge asian influence: ✔
  • End of fossil fuel: ✔
  • Everything is connected to a computer and can be hacked remotely: ✔
  • Widespread body modifications: ✔
  • Fetishist fashion: ✔

I can’t say I’m overjoyed by the way things turned out, and some things ended up differently than expected. Japan was then the super-power to become, this role will probably played by China.
We have not run out of fossil fuel but that’s on track, the US economy has not yet collapsed, but we still have two years until 2013. While cyberspace is an accepted idea, we can’t visualise this thing properly and Keanu Reeves seems to have colonised the place. The sad thing is that while piercings and tattoo are too common to even mention, the only body modification I really wanted, a direct connection from my brain to the computer, is nowhere to be found.

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Une femme sur un trône avec une coiffe sur la tête Chart of the price of one KW/hour

Energy Costs

Chart of the price of one kW/hour

There has been a lot of discussion about energy around me lately, some of it quite emotional. One thing that struck me is that people generally don’t realise how cheap energies like electrical power and fossil fuel are. One question that came up during lunch yesterday was if from a price standpoint, biking was even cost effective.

First let us consider the price of energy. In Zürich, daytime electrical power costs CHF 0.185 per kiloWatt/hour (kW/h), a litre of diesel fuel costs CHF 1.86, and contains 37.3 mega Joules (mJ), which is ≈10.36 kW/h, which brings us to a price in around CHF 0.18 per kW/h. Now, let’s consider fuel for a human, in the form of a Mars bar. A pack of 6 × 45g Mars Classic is CHF 2.7, which is conveniently CHF 1.0 for 100g. The energy content of 100g is 1896 kilo Joules (kJ), which is ≈0.53 kW/h, so the energy price is CHF 1.9 per kW/h, basically ten times more expensive. One reason for this is that we typically use a lot of energy to create food.

The energy consumption of a bike is 1.62 kJ/(㎞ × ㎏), let us assume the bike, the rider and the stuff moved is 100㎏. So the energy consumption is 162 kJ/㎞, which gives us 0.045 kW/h/㎞. The swiss railways has a energy efficiency of 0.082 kW/h/㎞ per passenger. So from an energy standpoint, the bike is still more efficient than the train (although at a lower speed), and given the cost of the swiss railways, also cost effective: 100g of mars bar is sufficient for more than 10㎞. Clearly energy is not an important factor in either biking or public transportation.

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