London calling to the faraway towns: what I learnt about my cultural identity as a British culture enthusiast

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           I am a child of the Mediterranean coast. A French girl, born in Aix-en-Provence, a lovely and sunny town in the south of France. Yet, I also have Spanish and Italian origins. As a result, I have been raised in a family which values the Latin culture. Of course, my cultural identity is composed of different European cultures, and I feel very lucky to “come from” all of these amazing countries. I learnt these languages at school (my family surprisingly does not speak any of these languages as they have been extremely influenced by their French heritage) and I can still understand them perfectly. I then became passionate about another language… What happens when you fall in love with another culture and that it slowly becomes an important part of your life? I picture the English language as being the sexy guy who makes you forget about your husband: you cannot resist him and you just fly away from your well-ordered existence in order to discover new, exciting adventures. This is London Calling… and I have listened to this song for minutes, hours, days, months and years…

        My love for the English language was first sparked when I was a little girl. My mum had always appreciated British culture and she wanted me to learn the language perfectly before going to school. She used to buy copies of “Disney’s Magic English” videos and  “Vocable ” books (a children’s magazine for learning English). Yet in reality, she never “forced” me to become interested in this language. I was naturally attracted to this culture and kept listening and reading all the time, repeating each word until I could reproduce the “perfect” British accent. As soon as I returned to school after the holidays, I asked my teacher to find me a British penpal. I cannot explain why, but my life was subsequently cut in two parts as I would speak French with my family and English with my friends. Indeed, there was an international class in my high school and there, I made friends with British and American people. Although I could not express myself very well without a heavy French accent (which is why they called me “Frenchie”), I tried to improve my skills by working harder to master the language, and getting help from my friends was very useful. I was hungry to learn more words and more expressions in order to fully communicate with my pals. It was rather frustrating to not be able to say what I would have expressed easily in French, and these “silent ” moments were a bit embarrassing. However, I was conscious that I needed more time to get immersed in this interesting culture – and practice makes perfect, doesn’t it ?

         I studied English every day – from school to university. Learning a language is a daunting task. Don’t expect to stay in your bed with some Doritos while watching Netflix series with French subtitles. The most challenging thing was to push myself to stop thinking in French. It hardly works and your sentences will sound like a strange mix of Franglais with questionable grammar structure. I believe it is definitely the hardest part of the whole process. Moreover, as someone who is passionate about literature, I have also always been keen on understanding the subtle meaning of words. The English language is full of compelling expressions and words which have a variety of connotations. When you think about it, “to love”, “to like” and “to enjoy” all mean “aimer” in French while in English, you use them in different contexts to create different meanings– and this is what I find magical about this language. I aspire to become a journalist in England because my dream has always been to be able to speak the language as perfectly as these amazing people I hear on the radio and to have an English writing style as smooth as possible.

          Nevertheless, the language is not the only part of the “British culture package” that I admire. Studying English all the time was not the only way to extend my knowledge for my future career. Travelling around England also remained a vital opportunity to explore more vigorously the culture. I travelled a lot in eastern England between the end of 2015 and the beginning of 2017. I can agree with what many people have always told me: the best way to learn a language is to purchase a plane ticket and to live in the country. I stayed in Norwich City for several months, and found that my interactions with locals were completely different from my expectations. I needed to adapt to this culture – even when it came to finer details such as ordering “mushy peas” with your chips (and not to say “french fries”), putting milk in your tea (or coffee…), watching Jamie Oliver’s healthy cooking shows (and Rick Stein’s famous food tours), enjoying a curry before  several drinks in a pub, eating a mince pie for Christmas (it’s not made of meat and is quite sugary!), or being able to name all the supermarkets brands (Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda, Marks & Spencer etc)… I could not speak French as it is pretty rare to find people who can express themselves fluently in my mother tongue, so this was a challenging period of my life where my perception of the British culture changed. The more I got involved in events, tours, parties, festivals, art exhibitions, meetings, the closer I felt to the British people. I think it was funny to see a regular French girl eating some fish and chips in Cromer or walking around Aldeburgh – although I was pleased to find a “L’Occitane” shop there! I thus learnt many things about British culture in the east of England. However, I gained another perspective when I visited London.

        London is my favourite city and is considered the cradle of multiculturalism. Many French people live alongside many other nationalities. While running to catch the metro, you can easily jostle a Pakistani guy, a Polish girl or a Spanish child. People from all around the world live in London – which makes this city even more fascinating. Going to London made me realize that there was not “one British identity”. I could hear many different accents – consequently, many different ways of speaking English. The language became suddenly versatile and open to transformations, intonations, tones, new words and expressions… This led me to think of my origins – which I had deliberately put aside in order to absorb as much as British culture as I could. However, the fact remains that I’m French, and I’m proud to be French. I also have Spanish and Italian blood – and I’m proud of that as well. I love British culture, and although I don’t come from the U.K, I feel like I have built my own British identity through the years by moving to London and studying and working there as a journalist. I remember that someone once told me I could never be a broadcast journalist in England because of my accent. If that’s the case, could this person explain to me why there are so many beautiful accents that resonate throughout London? As far as I’m concerned, the diversity of my Latin background constituted a genuine advantage to integrate into British culture. Indeed, it is not about where you come from but how you contribute to the country to make it stronger, and diversity is what makes London an attractive city. It dismantles the borders and gives everybody a chance to play their part in the culture.

           To be honest, I have never loved my enthusiastic French accent as much as I do now, and I hope that I’ll be able to add a je ne sais quoi to your language.

 

 

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Why X + Y is one of the best movies about Asperger’s Syndrome that I have ever seen

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             X +Y, also known in the U.S as A Brillant Young Mind, is a 2014 British drama directed by Morgan Matthews, Asa Butterfield, Rafe Spall and Sally Hawkins. Inspired by the documentary Beautiful Young Minds and by the life of the mathematical genius Daniel Lightwing, the movie focuses on Nathan Ellis, a young man suffering from Asperger’s Syndrome who enters a mathematics competition at Cambridge University. While his mental illness causes him to struggle emotionally, he strives to understand the world around him.

            Nowadays, it is true that Asperger’s Syndrome is considered an inspiring subject for many writers and directors. Indeed, pop culture is building some stereotypes about this mental illness which affects many people in the world, even if there are still many mysteries surrounding the spectrum. From Sheldon Cooper (The Big Bang Theory) to Sherlock (BBC’s Sherlock), the typical Aspergers man is perceived as a self-centered genius that cannot communicate with the others. However, is this representation true? Let’s face it. Not only is this portrayal completely romanticized, but it also makes it impossible to dissociate the myth from the reality. I absolutely think it contributes to feeding the audience with preconceived ideas about a mental illness that is unfortunately rather difficult to understand. Even if there are some advantages to cast Aspie (a word which means “someone with Aspergers”) characters, they should not be the heirs of the mad genius’s myth that came accross the nineteenth century. Do you like Sheldon and Sherlock? Fine. Ultimately, if you want to support Aspies, don’t get mad at the young man or woman who wants to find a job and struggles during an interview. Don’t laugh at these people’s reactions, conversations and whatever. You should open your eyes and see that people with Aspergers are not only fictional characters on TV. Asperger’s Syndrome is different for each person – and that is why it is extremely difficult to diagnose.

            However, I have been pleasantly surprised by watching X + Y. This movie tends to challenge the stereotypes concerning people with Aspergers. At the beginning of the movie, Nathan Ellis seems to be a genius: he enjoys mathematics, he has a private professor with advanced courses and he is selected to take a difficult test at Cambridge University. However, Nathan is not the best student in his class. As the professor in Taiwan states, Nathan’s results were rather disappointing. While he is not interested in his peers, particularly not his mother, he falls in love with Zhang Mei, a girl he met during his two-week math camp in Taiwan. If you have seen movies such as Adam, by Max Mayer, you will realize that someone with Aspergers cannot fully integrate into society and, above all, cannot fully immerse themselves in a relationship. That is why I did not like Adam despite Hugh Dancy’s impressive performance. It did not give the autistic character a chance to have a “ happy ending”, while X + Y’s director, Morgan Matthews, gives Nathan Ellis an opportunity to face his illness in order to live a “normal” life.

            In addition to this, I am certain that the other interesting characters that take part in Nathan’s adventures also help to spread another perception of Asperger’s Syndrome. All charactes are somewhat “broken” too. There are no “villains” in X + Y, instead there are human beings trying to fight their personal issues. Martin Humphreys, his private professor and Julie Ellis, his mother, are both particularly touching. Martin appears as a fatherly and comforting figure who supports Nathan in order to make him reach his goals while Julie embodies the unconditional mother’s love. What’s more, Zhang Mei plays a key role in Nathan’s life as she is both his friend and his lover. She awakens him to physical and emotional feelings as demonstrated in the “kiss scene” shows. This large palette of characters has an impact on the way Morgan Matthews draws on some compelling features of Asperger’s Syndrome. However, if you look further, the director extends his thought by pointing out a social question: how can being different affect us? Aren’t we all different? Nathan is not the only character to be deemed as “different”. Martin Humphrey lost control of his own body because of sclerosis. Julie is a lonely widow. Zhang Mei, who has been taught all her life to dedicate herself to work, falls in love for the first time and chooses to give up the competition when her uncle discovers she has feelings for Nathan. Although they certainly do not fit in our society’s ridiculous models, they all find what they have been looking for since the beginning.

            Even the minor characters in the film are “different” from the norms and aim to question their place within society. For example, Luke Shelton, another autistic teenager taking part in the competition, is the hero of a powerful scene when he learns that he is not selected to take the exam in Cambridge. Later, Nathan finds him alone in the bathroom cutting his wrist. Luke explains that being a genius was his only way to exist as a person with Asperger’s Syndrome person and that now, he could only be considered a “weird”person: “It’s alright being weird as long as you’re gifted. But if you’re not gifted, then…That just leaves weird.” Once again, this moving moment constitutes an incredible revelation to all of the Aspies you can find in pop culture: if you aren’t a mysterious, intelligent young man with memorable punchlines, you’re just an “odd” person.

            X + Y celebrates the minds of autistic peoples Nathan himself says : “I find any communication of a non-mathematical nature very difficult. Because I don’t talk much, people think I don’t have anything to say or that I’m stupid. Or, that’s not true. I have lots of things to say.” It is not about creating a fake universe and pretending to put forward people with Aspergers as a charitable gesture. It is about revealing every side of the spectrum – regardless of whether it is “good” or “bad”. That is why Nathan can be as fascinating as well as irritating – particularly when he treats his mother badly. Yet you cannot help but sympathise with him because it is part of how his brain works.

            In reality, the whole movie is about facing our fate and fighting against our fears. Even if Nathan is different from his peers, he does not want to be defined as a man with Aspergers but rather as a human being. That is why I really love the final scene of X + Y. Nathan realizes he neveranted to win the competition in order to fit in the “autistic genius” stereotype. Nathan runs away and expresses his feelings about love to his mother for the first time. He starts to cry when he talks about his dead father and hugs Julie. At the end of the movie, Nathan communicates with his mother by showing different expressions: laughing, crying, smiling and by showing a strong physical connection to her by holding her in his arms. The last scene of the movie exposes Nathan and Zhang Mei together in a train hugging. Where will the train lead them? Where will they go? The “ train ” is often associated with Asperger’s Syndrome as something that most of Aspies are interested in. However, in this case, Nathan is not alone in the train. The shot emphasizes both Nathan and Zhang Mei laughing and being happy.

            I see this movie as a positive interpretation of Asperger’s Syndrome and a tribute to those who feel they are “ odd ”. I would even go further by asserting that X + Y is a progressive movie about Aspergers as it portrays the condition as a social problem rather than a mental illness. That’s why it gives an idea of love and hope that could help considerably people on the spectrum to feel more integrated in society. It could even help them realize that they can love and be loved in return. No matter who you are, you’ll always find your own path. We should all remember this beautiful lesson.

Why my great grand-mother is my favourite super-heroine

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         All little girls have a favorite super-heroine. That’s why pop culture is full of interesting female characters to whom you can relate. From Disney Princesses to Marvel comic characters, we all have admired a heroine because of her physical appearance, personality or powers. Society shows us different figures of women through a wide range of media such as books, movies, TV shows, advertisement and more recently, the Internet. I would argue that our society is a “society of images” where we are constantly confronted with a myriad of representations of women. It seems like Platon’s famous cavern could easily be applied today as we are heavily influenced by what we see – and it can be either bad either good. Therefore, I feel little girls need to find a role model. Most of the time, they are attracted to fictional characters as heroines take part in extraordinary adventures. Let’s not forget the « marketing » approach of them: Disney, for instance, developed the “Disney Princesses” brand in order to sell many types of products such as dresses, toys and dolls with different colors for each princess. This crystalizes the idea of “role model” or “favourite heroine” that nurtures the creativity of young girls. It is also important to mention that heroines evolved through years and have become stronger than before. Again, this is demonstrated in Disney’s movies. There is a significant change in the way we see women nowadays. Moana, for instance, appears as a feminist heroine who does not need a man to travel around the ocean and defeats a massive monster all by herself – which is way better than “whistling while you work” like Snow White, isn’t it ?

         And I suppose you are all curious to know who is my favorite heroine. Although I love Belle from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast and have dedicated one full year to studying this fairytle for my Master’s Degree in Comparative Literature, she is not who I consider to be my favourite heroine. Indeed, my favourite heroine is not a fictional character, but someone who existed and who was a member of my family: my great grand-mother, Marie-Jeanne. I have never had the chance to know her as she died before I was born. However, my grand-mother enjoyed talking about her mother’s adventures during World War II when I was little. Consequently, Marie-Jeanne was like a super-heroine from a novel or a movie to me. I must point out that she looked like a Hollywood actress – and that is why it is almost difficult to imagine that she was like you or me: red lips, subtle eye-liner, lovely short brown hair and these incredible brows that you’ll never get even if you make an appointement each day at Benefit’s Brow Bar. Marie-Jeanne was a mix of Greta Garbo’s mystery look and Marlene Dietrich’s strong features. She was also a “fashion addict” who created her own dresses and was particularly keen on hand bags. Not only was she extremely beautiful, but she was enough brave to defy German soldiers.

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         Yes. Marie-Jeanne was not your average French beauty that you could watch in a black and white Jean Cocteau movie. Conversely, you could maybe see her in a little house in the middle of the scary “provencal” forests near Aix-en-Provence, staying silent because she was regurlarly threatened by the curfew or encountering Nazis. And I want to emphasize this dominant feature of her personality because it is what characterizes her the most. When the Germans soldiers started to invade the South of France during World War II, Marie-Jeanne was married to a Spanish immigrant, my great grand-father, Marcel, who is also a war hero. She had four children and worked for British and American soldiers by designing their army outfits. Marie-Jeanne had so much work to do that she used to sew until late at night – Marcel would stay by her side, reading her books so she would not fall asleep. I am sure she looked unflappable albeit slightly anxious. Marie-Jeanne knew her family was in danger and remained conscious of France’s desperate situation. Nevertheless, her children and her husband were more important to her than her own fears.

         When Marcel was made prisoner by the Germans for being part of the Resistance, Marie-Jeanne realized she had to fight alone for her family and her freedom. Each night, she resisted the curfew and ran through le Montaiguet (a huge hill between Aix-en-Provence and Gardanne, a little town in the South of France) in order to exchange some cigarettes for meat to feed her family. This particular passage of my great grand-mother’s life greatly inspired me. I can just imagine this little woman, lost in the darkness of the night, struggling through the scary forests where the tree branches looked like human arms trying to grab at her legs. She would fall on the ground, tearing up her tights and classy skirt. Yet, she would stand up, pushing the branches away, looking straight ahead and everything around her would disappear. They could attack her. They could say she was just a weak “ little French woman”, but Marie-Jeanne would still run, face the rain, the coldness, the terryfing noises you could hear in the moutains and any other unforeseen threat. For instance, one day, she got caught by Marcel’s best friend who threatened that he would tell everything to the Germans if she did not give him meat. To the seven-year old me, Marie-Jeanne would always defeat the wicked trees and the “villains” because she was strong and fearless.

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         As I grew older and started to understand my role in society as a woman, I further realized why Marie-Jeanne embodied the perfect super-heroine figure. She is an inspiring “character” because she is not a “character” at all. Marie-Jeanne was a real person who lived through a difficult time period. She had many issues and her situation was certainly not the easiest. I admire her because every woman could relate to her – even if we don’t live in the fifties anymore. Marie-Jeanne never claimed to be an extraordinary super-heroine. She had no powers and did not fly in the sky like a French Wonder Woman. She also cannot be compared to Hollywood stars either as she was not a famous actress that we could still watch on TV today. Her entire life is based on unfortunate but true events – they are not a part of a drama. So, who remembers Marie-Jeanne’s bravery today ? Who knows her name ? Most of my cousins don’t even care about her. I have only been able to keep her ring and some photos thanks to my grand-mother. The sad reality is that Marie-Jeanne’s stories seem to have faded for some members of my family. They simply dismiss the fact that Marie-Jeanne was a feminist who contributed to what we know today as the “girl power”. She dismantled every cliché people had about women in the fifties. Certainly, you would not find my great grand-mother in an advertisement for household appliances with a big fake smile on her face and a man giving her orders. If Marie-Jeanne was capable of slaying the game in a sexist society, I am pretty sure that women today could follow her path. There are many wonderful women that we don’t know about whom surround us. Devoted mothers, amazing wives, brave labourers, intelligent businesswomen, inspiring artists… I thus realized how much Marie-Jeanne influenced me in my childhood, in my teenage years and even today as a young woman. She played a key-role in introducing me to feminism. It has always been clear in my mind that I am a woman and society will always try to shape my body, my ideas and my mind to preconceived disgraceful standards.

         There is a lot of « maybe » in Marie-Jeanne’s story. My grand-mother does not remember every detail about her – she even told me that Marie-Jeanne was rather mysterious. Although I never had the chance to share a cup of coffee with her (a cup of coffee without sugar as she apparently hated it!), I am under the impression I have always known her, that she never left this world. It’s like I was in front of a movie watching this woman running in this horrid forest, falling on the ground, her knee bleeding through her black tights. And she would stand up. And she would face German soldiers, loneliness, and life. And I would be there. In the same setting. She would look at me, smiling and would take my hand. I would follow her into the dense dark fields of Provence, fearing the wicked trees, crying a little bit when I would hear a noise. And then, I would understand that I had a duty, a goal. I needed to get out of this hell – no matter what. And I would walk by her side until she would let me go. I think this is what she would like. An independent young woman, walking alone in this declining society and still finding a way to be in the spotlight.

         Marie-Jeanne never died. She still lives on my heart and in my story – like an eternal figure of heroism.

 

Book in Bar : a bit of England in Aix-en-Provence

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       Victim of a “London calling” ? Did you know that you could find a little bit of England hidden in between some isolated streets of the sunny Aix-en-Provence in the South of France ?

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         Book in Bar. This name sounds like the ideal novelistic English setting: books everywhere, scones and teapots. Who wouldn’t imagine a genius writer expressing endless creativity while drinking a cup of coff….tea – of course!

         Book in Bar is the favourite bookstore of many international students visiting Aix. A relaxing tea room where you can explore both British and American literature, study and even eat some cakes if you’re hungry for more adventures!

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Not sure if it’s appropriate to drink coffee at an English tea room. Ooops.

         Take a seat, practise a bit Shakespeare’s language and get ready for an immersive experience !

[Around the World] Once upon a time…Aix’s Calissons : a story of love, hugs, smiles and sweets

 

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        Ever visited Aix-en-Provence? You should not be surprised to see people buying little white diamond shaped sweets made of almonds, candied fruits (particularly melon) and sugar!

         Today, I visited Aix’s famous “calissons” factory called « Les Calissons du Roy René », and had the chance to meet two amazing people (and one of them is the confectioner!) who told the story of these traditional sweets from Provence. I was surprised to learn from them that there are many legends about the origins of calissons. It almost sounds like a nice fairytale…

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         It is said that calissons come from medieval Venice and that they were made to celebrate religious holidays. However, they travelled to Provence where professional bakers decided to alter the original purpose of the « calissons ». Originally, René of Anjou, count of Provence, was desperate because his wife Jeanne de Laval was sad all the time by his side. Consequently, he asked his bakers to create a sweet shaped as a smile for her. When René of Anjou gave some to Jeanne, he said (in the “provencal” language) : “ Di calin soun… ” (Here some hugs…) which bought back her smile. Not only is this story cute, but it also shows that “calissons” are an important part of the culture from Provence.

 

         So don’t forget to get her some “calissons” to make her smile. Jeanne de Laval loved them so much that she had an affair…with the confectioner! However, who wouldn’t be tempted to get more « hugs » ?

 

 

[Around the World] Maison Weibel : Aix’s most typical bakery is a museum of cakes and sweets

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         While Aix-en-Provence, Southern France’s city of arts is famous for its unique museums and inspiring artistic figures – such as Paul Cézanne and Emile Zola, it also remains a classy and “chic” place for foodies around the world. Are you bored of this Starbucks’s Unicorn Frappucino trend? Pay a visit to Maison Weibel and enjoy a nice vintage moment.

 

            Founded by Georges Weibel in 1954, Maison Weibel’s products have always been greatly appreciated and considered fresh and delicious. The family business extended considerably when his son Nicolas Weibel became Maison Weibel’s chef. He is a talented baker and chocolatier who aimed to improve the bakery by offering completely new creations, such as fine cakes and artisanal ice cream.It is true that Maison Weibel is a small establishment hich seems a bit isolated around Aix’s town hall, however, its vibrant purple facade cannot go unnoticed. Some people are enjoying a drink outside while sharing a piece of French traditional cake.

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“L’Aixois” is the purple one. It is made of « calissons » , a traditional diamond shaped sweet from Aix-en-Provence.

         Maison Weibel takes the cake game to the next level. Baking is an art and I would even say : a “provencal” art. From the traditional calissons to lavanda flavours, Maison Weibel explores every facet of Aix as one of its most popular cake “L’Aixois ”. Not only does it have a delicate taste, but i twill also take you on a journey to a sunny and joyful Provence as soon as you enter the bakery.

      If you have the opportunity to visit Aix, you should definitely take a look (and a taste!) at this museum of sweets.

 

A consommer sans modération ! 😉

[Raise Your Voice] « Surviveika » : When a pen meets a guitar, when a man meets an artist.

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             I’ve always been passionate about art. When I was little, writing already appealed to me and when I grew older, photography was the natural continuation of my words and stories. I like the fact you can play with different types of art, creating links between them which give birth to a « mutant » piece of art – something quite unique, making you remember how much each human being is different and how much their unique experiences of life can communicate a powerful message about this world.

          I met Miles Peckover in the most ordinary way. I was researching some artists for my university project when I found his blog « Surviveika ». The title attracted me and it is the first thing you will see and remember. On the blog, I found something quite unique. Some photographs of drawings, some notebooks,some pens on a old wood table and a poster with two young characters in a On The Road style. The caption told me that it was set in a post-nuclear America. In this picture, the characters have deep human features. They both seem alive, even though the young woman is asleep. She seems to move while the young man is driving – his eyes are tired, concerned and hypnotized by the road. He doesn’t want to have an accident. Miles’s drawings fed my imagination. What’s going to happen? What are they doing?  Who are they? And why do I seem to know them already ? It feels like I was on the road with him and I was talking to him : « Please, be careful on the road. You’re too tired. Where are we going? Do you think we will survive? »At the same time, Miles plays with each element which surrounds you :« Surviveika » is not only a graphic novel. It is something I would qualify as a« musical novel » as music underpins every adventure of these characters. I was more and more intrigued by the fact that everything still seemed mysterious.

Miles didn’t give a lot of details on the blog. On the contrary, the sense of mystery gives such an incredible consistency to this new concept that it made me even more curious to talk about it with the author. I contacted Miles through Facebook. I introduced myself hoping to know more about his project and his artistic method. Miles answered with enthusiasm and we decided to meet each other on Skype for an interview. It is always quite interesting to meet an author. I’m always curious about how they would look, how they would interact. I remember that Patrick Modiano, for instance, is quite shy for someone who can express so much through his writing. I discovered through the webcam that Miles was a young man around my age. I could read on his face that the years had built in him a deep personality. It was easy to talk with him as he is as passionate about art as I am. His words made sense to me, and above all, I’m pretty sure his ideas cristallized slowly after years of thinking about art. I would say Miles is a « real » artist – you can’t imagine him being someone else than a person who feels the strong and captivating essence of art deep inside of him. It’s a quite different quality from fake intellectuals who enjoy talking for hours about theories they learnt through critics. It’s way more than that. He is an artist who is concerned with how culture can challenge in justice and unite each human being, to show that we should love.

              Because« Love » is the word that he pronounced the most. An artist loves deeply – not only her/his muse, but people in general. And this is what you can already feel about « Surviveika ». In a political context where humanity is split up, where differences are underlined while they should be considered as a gift, Miles is still hopeful to show that art is the key to meet each other. Miles explained in detail how he works and that he wants to dismantle the common stereotype about artists : that they are lazy. For him, artists work in anascetic way. It looks a bit like what James Joyce describes in his Ulysses – artists are inspired by this figure as his quest always leads him to something new which challenges his perspectives. And this is exactly what Miles wants to reach: he questions the way the artist interacts with the world around her/him in both a political and symbolic way. The artist is an observer who uses her/his magical glasses to see a world in 4D. Her/his perception is uniquely over-stimulated by all what she/he feels and sees. Also, there is an auto-reflexive sense of thinking in Miles’s work. What are the limits of art? What is my limit as an artist? The more I was talking to Miles, more I understood that he doesn’t want to confine himself in this way – he just wants to do what « he likes ». He enjoys illustration so why not draw characters and a whole universe ? He enjoys making music so why not create songs to express the experiences of his characters? Miles defies the « rules » and the « norms » our society has produced. His thoughts make me think of Jean Cocteau’s famous line where he explains that artists have no rules. Above all, I was touched by the fact I could interact with Miles not only as an artist, but also as as a young man full of dreams who made me travel through his incredible imagination. After all, imagination is a way to create, but as well a way to share. And this idea of sharing and giving is what I want to remember from this interview. When you create a piece of art, you have a nice conversation with a reader, a public. A « mirror-conversation ». A deep echo that you find in yourself and that show you that you have a lot of things to learn and to enjoy in life. And even if « Surviveika » is inspired by events which cross our generation – and those are not always sweet, it still remains an adventure you would like to take part in. Take a seat, open your eyes and yoursoul. Let the music begin.

To listen to Miles’s music, click here!

If you want to know more and to follow Miles’ project, you can follow him :

Twitter

Instagram: @surviveika