Tag Archives: Art

Doris Lessing again – about great men

I wrote in Testament or Testimony ? Lessing, Reich, Grothendieck, Jobs, Arles how much I loved reading The golden notebook.

I just read another strange page which stroke me. And even more strangely, I discovered that the French translation (that I first discovered) was quite different from the original version. Have a look here at the French post if you read French or at my translation below. Here is the original text (but please read until the end of this post for some surprise):

You and I, Ella, we are the failures. We spend our lives fighting to get people very slightly more stupid than ourselves to accept truths that the great men have always known. They have known for thousands of years that to lock a sick person into solitary confinement makes him worse. They have known for thousands of years that a poor man who is frightened of his landlord and of the police is a slave. They have known it. We know it. But do the great enlightened mass of the British people know it? No. It is our task, Ella, yours and mine, to tell them. Because the great men are too great to be bothered. They are already discovering how to colonise Venus and to irrigate the moon. That is what is important for our time. You and I are the boulder-pushers. All our lives, you and I, we’ll put all our energies, all our talents, into pushing a great boulder up a mountain. The boulder is the truth that the great men know by instinct, and the mountain is the stupidity of mankind. We push the boulder. I sometimes wish I had died before I got this job I wanted so much – I thought of it as something creative.

Now here is my translation of the French translation, and it is quite different from the original version!

But, my dear Anna, we are not the failures we think we are. We spend our lives struggling to get people hardly less stupid than ourselves to accept the truths that great men have always known. They have always known, for ten thousand years, that by locking a human being in total isolation we can make him or her an animal or a beast. They have always known that a man who is poor or terrorized by the police or by his owner is a slave. They have always known that a terrorized man is cruel. They have always known that violence leads to violence. And we know it. But do the great masses in the world know this? No. Our job is to tell them. Because great men cannot waste their time on it. Their imaginations are already busy inventing ways to colonize Venus; they are already creating in their minds a vision of a society made up of free and noble human beings. Meanwhile, human beings are ten thousand years behind them, and are locked in fear. Great men cannot waste their time on it. And they are right. Because they know we are here, the rock pushers. They know that we will continue to push rocks on the first foothills of a huge mountain, while they are already free at the top. They are counting on us, and they are right. And that’s why we are ultimately not useless.

I am not sure which version I prefer, but I was quite amazed by what Doris Lessing had written more than 50 years ago, all the more it reminds me again the quote by Wilhelm Reich in the post I mentioned above.

Now shame on me! I had second thoughts and could not believe the translator was so creative so I looked again, and I found this new piece:

‘But my dear Anna, we are not the failures we think we are. We spend our lives fighting to get people very slightly less stupid than we are to accept truths that the great men have always known. They have always known, they have known for ten thousand years, that to lock a human being into solitary confinement can make a madman of him or an animal. They have always known that a poor man frightened of the police and his landlord is a slave. They have always known that frightened people are cruel. They have always known that violence breeds violence. And we know it. But do the great masses of the world know it? No. It is our job to tell them. Because the great men can’t be bothered. Their imaginations are already occupied with how to colonise Venus; they are already creating in their minds visions of a society full of free and noble human beings. Meanwhile, human beings are ten thousand years behind them, imprisoned in fear. The great men can’t be bothered. And they are right. Because they know we are here, the boulder-pushers. They know we will go on pushing the boulder up the lower slopes of an immensely high mountain, while they stand on the top of the mountain, already free. All our lives, you and I, we will use all our energies, all our talents, into pushing that boulder another inch up the mountain. And they rely on us and they are right; and that is why we are not useless after all.’

Why was there Anna and Ella, I should have thought about it immediately. The Ella piece is on page 107 and the Anna one on page 311 of my version. My mistake at least is an indication of the strange richness of Lessing’s novel.

Whats’s a startup? (part 4)

I used today again Steve Blank’s marvellous definition of a startup that I had used last time in 2013 here.

You can listen to him giving it in Helsinki in 2011 at Aalto University

or through his Mooc here:

It’s obvious once you heard it and took so many years to be designed!

In these uncertain times of Coronavirus, I can only advise you to relax. One way for me was tonight through Recomposed by Max Richter – Vivaldi’s Four Seasons.

Creativity according to Isaac Asimov

While travelling in the USA in January, I was mentioned a 1959 Essay by Isaac Asimov on Creativity “How Do People Get New Ideas?”.

Isaac Asimov by Andy Friedman (Source: MIT Technology Review)

I have always been skeptical about how to teach creativity or even how to encourage it. I felt very much in agreement with what Asimov had written way back 60 years ago. Let me quote him:

– the method of generation [of ideas] is never clear even to the “generators” themselves,

– what is needed is not only people with a good background in a particular field, but also people capable of making a connection between item 1 and item 2 which might not ordinarily seem connected,

– once the cross-connection is made, it becomes obvious,

– making the cross-connection requires a certain daring,

– a person willing to fly in the face of reason, authority, and common sense must be a person of considerable self-assurance; since (s)he occurs only rarely, (s)he must seem eccentric (in at least that respect) to the rest of us,

– my feeling is that as far as creativity is concerned, isolation is required; the creative person is, in any case, continually working at it; his (her) mind is shuffling information at all times, even when (s)he is not conscious of it,

– the presence of others can only inhibit this process, since creation is embarrassing; nevertheless, a meeting of such people may be desirable for reasons other than the act of creation itself,

– the optimum number of the group [i.e. such people just before] would probably not be very high. I should guess that no more than five would be wanted.

This is quite fascinating: according to Asimov, creativity is an isolated act; making connections possible maybe helped by small groups, but even this, Asimov is not totally convinced of… I have often read interesting articles about creativity in art, science, technology and the idea that freedom to think combined with obsession to solve or do something might be much more critical than social interactions.

When Entrepreneurship Meets Street Art

From time to time, I post articles not related to start-ups and entrepreneurship, but to other topics such as Street Art for example. Now comes the opportunity to join both thanks to Banksy. Indeed I can even relate both to migrants (who are a critical component of entrepreneurship). Banksy recently created the following Street Art work:



Banksy explained: “We’re often led to believe migration is a drain on the country’s resources, but Steve Jobs was the son of a Syrian migrant. Apple is the world’s most profitable company, it pays over $7 billion a year in taxes—and it only exists because they allowed in a young man from Homs.” Do I need to add about the importance of migrants in high-tech entrepreneurship? If yes, just read again AnnaLee Saxenian, Migration, Silicon Valley, and Entrepreneurship.

Art as an Answer to the Tragedy of Life

This blog is about Start-ups. But from time to time, I take the freedom of touching other topics. Often about Art. It will be again the case here. And also when tragic events occur. Last Friday, Paris was stricken again. And I do not have any answer but to say I believe in Peace and Love, not in war and hate. My brother sent me two beautiful pictures he took in Paris recently. They mean a lot.



My friend Dominique sent me a quote from René Girard in “Achever Clausewitz”, 2007, Champs Gallimard, pages 57/58« Ces échecs de résolution [de conflit] sont fréquents quand deux groupes « montent aux extrêmes » : nous l’avons vu dans le drame yougoslave, nous l’avons vu au Rwanda. Nous avons beaucoup à craindre aujourd’hui de l’affrontement des chiites et des sunnites en Irak et au Liban. La pendaison de Saddam Hussein ne pouvait que l’accélérer. Bush est, de ce point de vue, la caricature même de ce qui manque à l’homme politique, incapable de penser de façon apocalyptique. Il n’a réussi qu’une chose : rompre une coexistence maintenue tant bien que mal entre ces frères ennemis de toujours. Le pire est maintenant probable au Proche Orient, où les chiites et les sunnites montent aux extrêmes. Cette escalade peut tout aussi bien avoir lieu entre les pays arabes et le monde occidental. Elle a déjà commencé : ce va et vient des attentats et des « interventions » américaines ne peut que s’accélérer, chacun répondant à l’autre. Et la violence continuera sa route. L’affrontement sino-américain suivra…. » which translates as follows:


So my reaction goes elsewhere. I recieved emails on Friday night and Saturday from the Space Invader community checking that everyone was all right. People who love street art go out to find the works and take pictures. Indeed Invader was in the same mood last January. He is now invading New York City, with a fifth wave. By following him with a work in progress, I see art as an answer to the tragedy of life.

SI est charlie

Here is my own work in progress:

as well as my map (if I gave you access – Invader asks people not to give inidcations to people who destroy his work).

Space Invaders in Paris and Tokyo: an update

Not directly linked to my main blog activity, I publish from time to time about Street Art. The summer is a good time for summarize findings and I did some work about my Paris and Tokyo’s quest of Space Invaders. Paris has now 1167 invasions. Tokyo is still at 138 but I could find old ones online.


Here are also two other nice works. First my favorite artist, “Mirror Man” from Pully (Switzerland) who created this in Paris.

– Breaking Bad

– Cost

More “seriously” here are some stats about Paris (updated as of October 2015 with 1182 invasions)

So my synthesis, which you also find on SlideShare gives this:

Paris: from PA_1000 to …


Street Art, Space Invaders and Mirrors in Pully

The recent weeks have been fun for me relatively to Street Art. First I found a really beautiful mirror in Pully. I have now found more than 40 places with about 50 mosaics.


Second I accidentally found two Space Invaders in Tokyo. Quite nice too! I finished compiling the Tokyo Space Invaders and have pictures for most of the 138 which have been put there..)



Finally, I finished my crazy work of compiling all Parisian ones. I have counted 1’139 works until now (May 2015). Crazy probably but fun… you can find the full compilation in my post about Space Invaders in Paris.


Patrick Modiano, Nobel Prize in Literature

I remember a conference by Carlos Fuentes at Stanford University in 1989 or 1990. The Mexican writer said there that literature had become mixed. I did not find any trace of this conference, but some traces of a similar conference.
“Our future depends on the freedom of the polycultural to express itself in a world of shifting, decaying and emerging power centers.” He talked about the voices in literature today – Third World writers such as Salman Rushdie and V. S. Naipul – whose works reflect a diverse world that is no longer bipolar in terms of power and culture.

I took my courage in both hands and lined up to talk to him for a short moment. I asked him when my turn came what he thought of French literature. He told me that in this trend of global mixing, it was less visible except some authors such as Michel Tournier and J.M.G. Le Clézio. He did not mention Patrick Modiano but he should have! Nothing is more mixed as the writing of Modiano from La place de l’étoile until aptly titled Un pedigree. And nothing beats the most surprising opinion on this great author than François Mitterrand and Frédéric Mitterrand.

Frédéric Mitterand: “He received the Nobel Prize because, in my opinion, he permanently searches the Western guilt about the behavior of each other in times of totalitarianism, cruelty, and maltreatment from the state. […] he does not know why good people have become collaborators and bastards, resistant and what is perhaps the key to the deep melancholy and poetry that emerges from his books is that he does not know exactly.” (Minute 0:56 of the video below)

As for François Mitterrand, the archive dates back to 1978 when Bernard Pivot asked the man who was not yet President of the French Republic to invite four authors. He invited among others Patrick Modiano and Michel Tournier also! From minute 56:10, we could hear an amazing exchange … “There is a great clearness of style, which can deceive. Rue des boutiques obscures, it is an interesting story of someone who, in search of himself – he has amnesia, he does not know who he is – falls on Russian picturesque, families… But this is just a simple story. And then we get to the end […] and suddenly you realize that it’s not a simple story, it’s not a clear story. […] We realize that we are projected into another story; this man who is looking for himself does not just have amnesia – or so we all amnesic: who are we? […] This is a great classic French style and then we realize that there is some Russian under this. These are people who talk like Dostoevsky would do, but in the style of Stendhal or of a detective novel. »

When you know the relationship also ambiguous and far from simple between François Mitterrand and the Second World War, the exchange is amazing. I do not know if Modiano was surprised by the invitation. He was to receive the Prix Goncourt a few months later and the Nobel Prize some 25 years later…

NB: Fuentes and Tournier did not recieve the Nobel prize, but Le Clézio and Modiano did. If I had to bet, the next French writer on the list might be Michel Houellebecq.

NB2: when available, I will add here Modiano’s speech in Stockholm for his Nobel Prize.

Brussels, Street Art and Space Invader

Two articles tonight on my blog. A serious one coming, a huge criticism of Christensen’s disruptive innovation and an equally important one on Street Art. Yesterday there wwa a magnificent athletics meeting in Brussels where two high jumpers soared ever higher, and tried in vain for the world record at … 2.46m. It was beautiful to see. It was the perfect opportunity to show the work of Invader in Brussels in March 2012.


Here is the pdf file: Space Invader in Brussels. He obviously did not fail to invade the symbol of the city!


Street art again: Space Invader in Grenoble

Street Art is a strange combination of references to art of course, but also to sociology, politics and economy. It might be why I became interested in the phenomenon and mention it here, in a blog related to start-ups which are also a strange combination of creation, social policy and economy. Both reconsider the established world, the institutions. Street Art interferes with private property and invades places it is not allowed to touch in theory. Street Art revisits consumerism and capitalism in a very interesting manner. And in the end, it became a part of consumerism, capitalism and the established art world. In a way, it’s exactly the same thing with start-ups. The successful ones become a part of the established economy. Also, both appeared without a clear objective. The computer, the Internet were nearly as useless as art in its first years. In the next picture, what does belong to advertising and what to art?


Whatever I continue my virtual and real visits to street artists with Space Invader in Grenoble in 1999. As you may imagine, there is not much left, but still a lot online! Attached is my pdf compilation of Space Invader Grenoble invasion.


PS: You can find my compilations of Banksy in New York, the beautiful mosaic-mirrors of Pully and the invasions of Lausanne, Geneva, Bern, Basel, and Toyko under the tag Street Art.