by Jack Kessler, firstname.lastname@example.org
January 15, 2018 issue. This file presents an archive copy of the issue of the FYI France ejournal, ISSN 1071-5916, which was distributed via email on January 15, 2018.
Versions of the following have appeared online regularly, since 1992, as a feature of the FYI France ejournal, ISSN 1071-5916, which is distributed for free via email every month except August. Ejournal subscriptions may be obtained via email request to: email@example.com
Here this file is one of a number made available -- hopefully attractively, all in one place, and relevant to libraries and online digital information work in France and Europe. Please email suggestions for improvements to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
[tr. JK] “A gift from C&F éditions for beginning the New Year — a ramble through the public domain, thinking about snowflakes...
“The Book of Snow
“To convey Best Wishes for the New Year 2018 from C&F éditions, we have decided to make a digital book about snowflakes. The selections presented in the book all are in the public domain, so we may use them here.
“However these things never are simple — we also must make such digital reproductions usable. We have studied, attentively, the conditions-of-use of many sites devoted to the public domain, with some surprising results which you will discover in reading this work.
“But we have found enough beautiful reproductions to make this little book worthwhile [JK: much better in the elegant French, ‘ce petit livre sans prétention...’]
“We will hope that you will appreciate it, as a distraction, a glimpse, a path less-trodden...
— “Neige : voyage dans le domaine public, by Hervé Le Crosnier & Nicolas Taffin —This material may be protected by copyright.”
So you must see this, as an example of what an e-book truly can become, far more than as just a digital / geek experiment, and as something definitely involving careful packaging and “pictures” — “Of what use is a book without pictures?”, asked Alice — also as an example of a truly-French touch... for there is an aesthetic, a sensitivity, to everything the French do, something always unique or at least different from the efforts of others — like the little brightly-colored origami bird which Japanese friends enclose in a gift package — this is a beautiful book, and as a gift at New Year’s it makes for a beautiful present. Manuscript and printed books forever have been this, and now e-books can do it too.
A now, a Note:
In the Anglo-American world we have a tradition of sending and receiving Christmas “cards”, in December: small and precious things decorated with images of Santa Claus, and Christmas Trees, and newborn babies in “mangers” — whatever those are... (French friends explain that is their word, for where the lowing-cattle eat their winter feed in the chilly barn) — the little cards can be decorated nowadays with varieties of ingenious artificial “snow” and “holly” and even tiny music-boxes, and most importantly inside there are seasonal sayings and messages, printed or best handwritten by the senders, and often too inserted photographs, it is a warm and welcome annual tradition.
But it is not French... Living in France we received such cards from French friends, at Christmas, but they knew we were Americans — and living in the US now we still receive some such cards from them. In chocaholic Lyon we learned about the bûches de Noël, and we still enjoy those annually here in francophilic San Francisco.
But in France the tradition, oddly we found, was neither for “cards” nor even “Christmas”. There certiainly are celebrations, with beautiful lights and music — but Easter is the big event there — Christmas in France is more of a Winter Holiday, like the Germans’ with their pretty Weihnachtsmarkt, and the Hungarians’ Good King Wenceslas warming the snow on St. Stephen’s Day, and for that matter the Roman Saturnalia.
We’ve learned the many legends of the Christmas-origins — that the early Church Fathers invented the celebration to supplant the orgiastic Saturnalia, or so goes one theory — that the “tree” came from older pagan Germany, Yggdrasil maybe — and the “lights” and fly-over gift-giving from Diwali, maybe even via the Gypsies from far-away Gujarat...
We’ve learned too of the many Christian sects who do not celebrate Christmas, either because their own strict readings of the ancient texts do not find it there, or because such a sect established prior to the Catholics refused then and still refuses to conform to Rome — Syriacs, Copts — “Christianity” is an amorphous thing, like anything human...
Not so the New Year, one would think. That the human-world is governed in cycles by the natural-world is a humbling realization dictated universally to us all by the moon, and then by the sun according to many mythologies, and then by our many measurement-systems relying upon those basics. So that “annual” event we all celebrate, and it seems we always have: even though we always get it wrong... wondering when it all began, and trying now to pinpoint the Year 1000 as its predicted ending when back-then calendars designated several of those... “time” can be a mysterious thing...
Still, though, we celebrate... and a little thing like a New Year’s gift can be both a time-bound and a time-less thing, time-bound in being French not American, and more about New Year’s than about Christmas, and time-less in being about snowflakes...
As we format our new communications media, let us respect the time-bound — the Frenchness, the foreign, the religious differences, the unique festivals — even while we reach for new evidence of the time-less — the snowflakes, which forever have fallen, regardless of where and however we have enjoyed them.
Read this beautiful little e-book, then, for its culture-bound language or its culturally-universal images... that was Alice’s point about pictures... The new web of webs makes all of this available to all of us, now, all the time: so my own New Year’s wish, and I believe that of these authors, is that we all will have the good sense to use our webs for that at-once celebratory and unifying purpose.
Happy New Year!
FYI France (sm)(tm) e-journal ISSN 1071-5916 * | FYI France (sm)(tm) is a monthly electronic | journal published since 1992 as a small-scale, | personal experiment, in the creation of large- | scale "information overload", by Jack Kessler. / \ Any material written by me which appears in ----- FYI France may be copied and used by anyone for // \\ any good purpose, so long as, a) they give me --------- credit and show my email address, and, b) it // \\ isn't going to make them money: if it is going to make them money, they must get my permission in advance, and share some of the money which they get with me. Use of material written by others requires their permission. FYI France archives are in various places on the Internet, i.e. at http://listserv.uh.edu/archives/pacs-l.html (PACS-L), or http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/Collections/FYIFrance/, or https://list.indiana.edu/sympa/arc/exlibris-l/ (EXLIBRIS-L), or http://www.fyifrance.com. Suggestions, reactions, criticisms, praise, and poison-pen letters all gratefully received at email@example.com . Copyright 1992- , by Jack Kessler, all rights reserved except as indicated above.
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