It amazes me that you can now travel just about anywhere in the world within a 24 hour period. Sure, there are examples of more remote places where it take longer, but still, you’re looking at a few extra days tops, unless its to some crazy monastery up in the Himalayas, or somesuch. Despite the cramped seat of my 10 hour Lufthansa flight, it still amazed me to awake from hibernation on the other side of the planet.
I was invited to France by journalist Eric Pape, to meet with some potential investors, teach a bit at Isart Digital, and check out the renowned comics convention in Angouléme.
Paris had a pretty profound effect on me. I suppose I never really understood French culture, but after immersing myself in the Parisian lifestyle for a week, I can see just how much of French culture resonates with my own values. It is a culture of the artisan.
The artisan is apparent in everything from the architecture, to the food, to the language. Everything seems to have an extra artistic flair added, because that is part of the underlying value of anything the French do. When I lectured at Isart on the future of storytelling, almost all my examples were French! From Eric Chiahi, to Luc Beson, to Michel Gondry, to Silence Beneath the Bark, apparently I’ve been in love with French art all along, but just didn’t realize it!
Aougléme was very enlightening. Graphic Novels, or Bandé Dessané (BD) are HUGE here. Mainstream culture embraces and celebrates the medium, and the variety of style and subject matter is much more diverse than what we get in America. In short, its higher brow. Given that I prefer non super hero comics, I now can see the value of learning to read and speak French, and discover the treasure trove of these books.
Visiting the Musée d’Orsee was also mind blowing for me, as I had studied art history in college, but only recently developed an appreciation for the Impressionist paintings we had spent so much time discussing. I didn’t realize that I was making a value judgement based on aesthetics, and how that was keeping me from seeing and appreciating the historical significance of the works of Manet, Degauss, Van Gogh, etc.
To see these paintings live in the flesh is a completely different experience, observing the depth of the actual brush strokes, understanding from that how these pieces were actually crafted. And then, in the larger context, understanding why it was in France that you have such a concentration of all this art. I can see why of all the places in Europe, the great painters came from France.
Being hosted by friends was a treat, and a very sharp contrast from my previous trips across Europe as a backpacker. I can’t wait to return the favor.
It became clear to me during this trip that the audience for work like Ajax is far more likely to be in France, if not Europe / Asia. Now I’ll need to figure out a way to work internationally, and intersect with iphone / ipad culture abroad. I’m getting into the jetset lifestyle, and I realize now that I only want to travel abroad with purpose.
Here’s to more trips in the future.