All posts by frederic_69rob

Troublebadour – Live in Spain

Troublebadour acoustic set – Barcelona – 23 March 2024.
L to R: Frederic Colier, Carlos Salas, Xavi Cortez, Manel Maña, Arturo Ferreres, Xavi Gonzalez

A Fable for the New Millennial

“A Fable for the New Millennial: What Dictators Taught Me About Writing Fables”

by Frederic Colier

Writing fables demands universal wisdom. Nowhere else is this truer than in politics. I speak from experience. For years, I utterly failed at writing political fables. Success only came from outside of it. My failure was tied to my ignorance of the importance of truth. Call it a failure of imagination or lack of talent.

My efforts were not in vain, however. First, I came to learn that dictators are terrified of fables. Nothing frightens a dictator like a well-honed fable for children. Myths are much better equipped for politics, and dictators are the most comfortable when evolving in myths. With little concerns for truth, myths’ only prerequisite is a fertile imagination. A fable will fail if it tries to dress with the garments of a myth. The myth will look ridiculous with those of a fable. Myths demand high drama and exaltation. Dictators thrive on the heightened imagination of myths.

Second, I learned that dictators abhor fables. To write a successful one, a fable must produce a sobering lesson that can stand the test of time and takes responsibility for its consequence. Everyone knows the core message of “The Turtle and the Hare,” “The Grasshopper and the Ant,” or “The Boy Who Cried Wolf.” Whoever reads them can infer the meaning. This is true in Europe, Africa, or Asia. We called these lessons morals. Morals may have originated from socio-religious concerns, but they parlay an ethical code for social conduct. Most fables have managed to remain as relevant today, through all types of circumstances, as they were 3000 years ago.

This moral endurance is useless for dictators. The only permanent truth is the myth about the dictator. Only personality matters in myth, the more exalted the better. In fables, where morals reign supreme, characters, no matter how they behave, have little relevance. They only represent the failure of their moral conduct, and they can be substituted for other characters. Replacing the Hare, the Turtle, or the Boy with another Hare, Turtle, or Boy would not change the nature or outcome of the story. The fable of an everyday man seeking to become a king would suggest that the story will not end well, or in humiliation as in “The Emperor’s New Clothes.” Preachy endings make a poor bedfellow with the celebratory stipulations of someone seeking a mythic status. It would be a mistake, for example, to claim that the myth of a man who wants to rebuild a crumbling empire is about a moral lesson.

Given the constant demands of the dictator, myths are never about long-lasting truths. They are only concerned with any bright outcome. And the subject can never be replaced by any other subject. In fact, myths only celebrate the greatness of its subject. The myth of an everyday man, who claims to have a special destiny to rule over a vast number of people, without their consent, expects the same people to suspend common sense and believe in his supernatural power. This is what I failed to comprehend.

This failure made me realize that as much as fables have steady narratives, myths do not. The characters of fable live forever, whereas the subjects of myth are prone to mortality. The dictators must constantly update their wardrobe not to run the risk of falling out of fashion. Maintaining a myth current requires an unfettered, scruples-free, imagination. The would-be dictator must prove his extraordinary talent over and over to prevent the masses from questioning his actions. This unending process forces myths to escalate their display of fortune until the people, on the ground, feel dazzled by the burning rays of their fanatical mission.

Satisfaction is a big component of a fable’s resolution. Given their precarious nature, a myth never yields clear satisfying results. The endless quest of a shifting narrative explains why it is hard to learn anything from a myth. What can be inferred from a mosaic of disparate ideas cobbled together? In a fable, a character would see through the problem at once and expose the subject’s flaw. It is not advisable in a myth, at the risk of exposing its motive.

Preserving the integrity of a myth is therefore paramount. Dissent must be readily suppressed. The myth-monger must target the myth-busters: other politicians, journalists, and scholars, down to the single mother who commits high treason for requesting a foreign song on the radio to celebrate her daughter’s birthday. Nothing must threaten the image of the dictator. The survival of a myth is directly related to the darkness of its defensiveness. No myth no dictator. A fable’s moral is set in stone. No one can alter it. Given my lack of critical understanding about the nature of fables, no doubt I was setting myself for failure.

Yet, I made an unsuspected discovery. A myth’s ravenous instinct of preservation, sooner or later, triggers its own comeuppance. The more extreme the myth, the fiercer the reaction. Human history abounds with cases. The allies decimated the Aryan Nazi myth. Mussolini’s or Ceausescu’s myth did not fare much better. This reversal takes place when the dictator, by attacking its coveted audience, makes the myth prone to unpredictability. This explains why, at some point, the dictator will experience a mighty fall. It may be triggered by a boy shouting in the street about a bad outfit. The downfall of three mythic dictators, in Tunisian, Libya, and Egypt, started with a street fruit vendor in Tunisia. The lesson is not that the day a myth starts forcing its clothes on everyone to justify its existence, though it is true, it de facto incubates an unpredictable street-vendor. The valuable lesson is that myths never proceed with caution. They are so blind to their greatness that they fail to see that inside each one of them hides a fable, pregnant with a hard-earned moral, eager to speak its truth. So, the boy in me is now shouting that a myth without a coat reveals nothing but a powerful naked fable. A terrifying revelation for a dictator. We knew this all along.

Of Wanderlust (2003)

Of Wanderlust

PEN America

There was a popular series of illustrated books when I was in England in the late 80s’. It was an unusual series. A silly-looking guy, with thick glasses, and red ski hat, walking around with a walking stick, a backpack, and a white and red stripped shirt, through complex imaginary landscapes. That was the world of Wally, as in “Where is Wally?” Everyone read those books, spending hours to locate for “the silly guy” buried in the various scenery.

When the series was transferred to an American audience, the name was changed to Waldo, which is a weird adjustment, since the new name conveyed nothing of the original title. A Wally is a Wally, not quite an idiot but a stupid or silly person. Waldo carries no meaning whatsoever. Basically the English cheekiness was lost in translation.

Attached is a photograph from a PEN America event back in January 2024. Can you find the Wally/Waldo in the picture? Clue: This Wally attended the event, and his face landed on the main photograph of it. He is standing, clearly a victim of imposter syndrome, along the crop of the best young emerging writing talent in NY. Next to him, Ayana Mathis.

Conversations with Gnausgaard

(Dec 08, 2023) You may not be aware . . . But I interviewed Karl Ove Knausgaard back in 2012, before he achieved a worldwide fame with his six-volume autobiographical series My Struggle as part of my own TV series, Books du Jour. The interview has just been published by the University Press of Mississippi, along many other in-depth conversations from the literary landscape. Bob Blaisdell did a remarkable job editing all these conversations in this must-have book. Whether you are a Knausgaard fan or simply a curious aspiring author or reader here is your chance to get a close look at Knausgaard’s creative process.

A Book for Emotionally Exhausted Women

Emotionally Exhausted Women by Nancy Colier

This is a message for all the exhausted women out there, who spend their life taking care of others and forget themselves in the process. Check out this book. Just released. It will help you to find yourself again.

From the author, Nancy Colier, “Are you feeling emotionally exhausted? Do you worry about being likable (at all cost)? Are you trying to do it all and be it all—all the time? This radically different self-care guide will help you find the courage needed to express your deepest needs, nurture self-awareness, and be yourself in a world that expects you to be everything to everyone.

New from BWLB: “Detour” a novel by Michael Brodsky

Brodsky-Detour-1-small-04-25-19Detour,” a novel by Michael Brodsky (BWLB, ebook $ 5.99, print $23.99)

Detour charts the struggle of a film-crazed young man to shape his identity; it is also about his resistance to doing so at every turn. Owning an identity can mean being straitjacketed, condemned to a living death; language becomes both an escape from the straitjacket and its evilest genius.

Detour is also a story of first love, as it concerns the intense, transient sexual relationship between the young man, who is very reluctant about to enter medical school in the Midwest, and a rootless former heroin addict named Anne.

The hero of Detour experiences movies the way Don Quixote responds to the romances of chilvary—as being infinitely more real than anything else in the world. Hence the connections relentlessly made between his own often Bresson, Welles, Fellini, Ophüls, Sternberg, Sirk, Karlson and Godard. Camera movements, cuts, dissolves, tension between sound and image—these torment, fascinate, liberate and exalt, because they seem to lie just beyond the vampire clutch of words, thoughts, analysis.

It is within such contexts that one begins to understand the “detours”—social, psychological, familial, erotic, existential—that frustrate and enrich the protagonist’s quest for love, for connectedness, for the satisfactions of a calling. As well as the artistic detours that are crucial to depicting his complex, lacerated, maturation.

It is by means of a technique that has truly absorbed the formal lessons of the novel and through an extraordinary command of language—and of the many different languages inside language: colloquial, technical, abstract—that Brodsky makes this account of the growth of the self so unnervingly new and unpredictable. In sentence after sentence, he manages to discharge the shock of the unknown, the unspeakable, the never before said.

Detour is a vastly expanded version of the novel that received the Ernest Hemingway Foundation Citation of the PEN American Center in 1979.

New from BWLB: “Three Goat Songs,” by Michael Brodsky

Brodsky-3Goats-2-03-06-19-smallWe are continuing to reissue Michael Brodsky‘s entire catalogue. This is installment #3. “Three Goat Songs” is a series of variations on a theme. It is divided into three novellas, each about a man who sits on a rocky coast by the seashore, contemplating. Herbs of goats come there to graze. The man is a husband and father of two children.

Three Goat Songs” is an exploration into the existential boundaries, in the “sea-bounded goat world.” It is a philosophical look at the essential sameness and, at the same time, the diversity of all stories. It has in common with the other books of Michael Brodsky the theme of the protagonist’s struggle to survive, and more than that, to comprehend.

Together, this body of work has led critics to compare the writing of Michael Brodsky to that of the masters like Dostoevsky, Becket, Joyce.

Need Your Book Translated

Lingorama-Logo-CroppedDo you need your book to be translated either into English or any other language? The first question that always comes to mind is why should you need to have your book translated? The answer is as simple as the question. There is nothing like visibility in foreign markets to gain a wider audience. Our affiliate, Lingorama can help you achieve this goal. Lingorama specializes in book translations. All book sizes are welcome (fiction or non-fiction), and so are languages. Want to learn more about how you can truly increase your book sales? Don’t hesitate to reach out.