Ephemere (Jean-Marc is taking over today's post...)
Une vue de l'esprit - what a great term in French!

Seize the day (then write about it!) Une causerie with writer Sylvain Tesson at Château de Pibarnon


The above is part of the invitation Jean-Marc and I received, to attend a most inspiring causerie. Read about it in today's chronique....

Today's Word: une causerie

    : une causerie is an informal talk by an interpreter, given in a familiar tone and often accompanied by a demonstration, a theatrical animation, a slide show, etc.

Click here to listen to the example definition in French

Une causerie est une conférence informelle d'un interprète, faite sur un ton familier et qui est souvent accompagnée d'une démonstration, d'une animation théâtrale, d'un diaporama, etc.

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse

'Beyond Fiction'

A somewhat fractured compte-rendu for you today...as I'm anxious to post Chapter 5 of our memoir (and promise to this afternoon)...

Compte rendu
, just the word to dive into today récit, about a talk Jean-Marc and I attended on Sunday. Mille mercis to Eric de Saint Victor, Anne-Laure Couralet, and the friendly team at Château de Pibarnon, for introducing us to an adventurer, philosopher, and geographer--and especially the writer Sylvain Tesson.


Éric de Saint Victor welcoming his guests.

There in the chateau's poetic Orangerie looking down through the pines to the Mediterranean, the sea breeze cooling the room, some 100 fans were captured by the guest of honor, Sylvain Tesson, during an interview or causerie by fellow author Sébastien Lapaque.

As an autodidact whose writing practice intensified when this blog began, I found yesterday's causerie inspiring. I could relate to Sylvain Tesson, who says he has never written fiction. And yet, 30 published books under his belt, and he enjoys (literally finds joy) in writing essays, comptes rendus, chroniques and, perhaps especially, in keeping up his journal intime.

How that brings me back to my own diaries, set aside when I began this blog--this 17-year warm-up for the novel I fear I should write if I am to be considered a 'real' writer.

Nonsense! Sylvain Tesson might say. He doesn't see the point in labels--or even the need to write fiction or an epic novel--not when everyday life is filled with experiences that are beyond fiction. As he spoke, my mind drifted back to early that morning, when a dragonfly alighted on my hand as I reached into our fountain to fill a watering can. Those 10 seconds were epic. The glint and glimmer of the libellule's wings were like cathedral glass; the insect's long pause on my skin reminded me of a conversation with a friend who'd lost her mother. Before her mother passed away, my friend said to her: Send me a message when you reach the other side, Mum. But how will I know it is you?

I will be everywhere in nature, her mother answered, in the squirrel that runs across the grass, in the bird that flies past...(and, I wondered, remembering my friend's mother--who was also my dear friend, Kate--was she here...in this mysterious dragonfly, with the great big eyes?). 

I so wanted to write an essay about the dragonfly encounter, yet--in the order of priorities--I needed to finish my current chapter!

What would Sylvain Tesson say about all of this? (This and transparency. Something I've struggled with in the writing of our vineyard story, having torn out three-quarters of the last chapter).  I don't know what Monsieur Tesson would say, I did not have the chance to ask him. But one other thing he talked about that resonated deeply, was this: the betterment of his writing. That is: he does not or has not measured his advancement as a writer nor does he think he has advanced. His writing today, he trusts, is the same as when he began journaling, chronicling, essaying, as a young man. 

Notre dame
Sylvain Tesson's 80-page tribute to Notre Dame de Paris after the fire.

As or me, I like to think that with all this writing we learn ways in which to better express ourselves. So write, write, write!

But I need to learn to relax! relax, relax! It brings me back to striving, something I spoke about in a previous edition, about a sabbatical. Take away striving and what are we left with?

Purity, innocence, and perhaps even beauty? (And peace and rest and tranquility!) This, according to Sylvain Tesson is a lesson he learned later in life, after catapulting himself--literally by his own to feet--to far off places in search of happiness. Most people know, he said, that happiness is right in front of us, if only we will stop to look around. Happiness is in the familier. And yet we strive for novelty.

Which brings us back to novels.... or writing.

As Sylvain would agree, joy is jotting down--in a little carnet, or calpin--the record of one's day: a day that is first lived organically (physically?), and then lived again, on paper, as we retell the adventures of our journée. Just knowing that we will be writing them down at the end of the day influences our decisions--the decision, for example, to seize the opportunities that come our way.

I have only told you about Sylvain Tesson's writing and not his favorite subjects. You can discover his adventures, his philosophy, his deep love for trees and rocks and nature, in these books, Including the original French versions. He has won many awards and surely many hearts, by his example.

Tesson consolations

*   *   *

Sylvain Tesson and I have one more thing in common. I was deeply moved to hear him speak (at a vineyard, before a crowd of wine-lovers...) of his own adieu to drinking. And that is the story I've been struggling to write in Chapter 5. If you have not yet begun reading our memoir The Lost Gardens, please join us now by ordering here. Your purchase is the best motivation to complete the next chapter--and the next.... Merci beaucoup!


un compte-rendu = report
le récit = story, tale, account
une causerie = talk, conversation, chat
mille mercis = a thousand thanks
orangerie = orangery = a room, often with large oval-topped windows, in which citrus fruits are protected in winter

la chronique = chronicle
journal intime=diary
une libelulle = dragonfly

le carnet or le calepin = notebook

I purchased a few of Sylvain's books, including this one: Abandon yourself to life!

View from chateau de pibarnon
At the breathtaking Château de Pibarnon, more here.

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