I once heard learning equated to the way computers with dial-up service could load information on the screen. There are two separate ways in which this could occur; the first method loads information line by line and it slowly stacks to reveal a picture bar by tedious bar. We have all had teachers who teach in this sequential manner and probably have read manuals, books, or articles that unfold in this predictable way. I find that this method of inquiry closes the winding, wonderful, and awesome avenues of critical thinking that every person wants and deserves from their learning. So if not this, then what? In the second method, the picture is presented all at once in a frighteningly fuzzy amorphous form on the computer screen, and slowly each dilated pixel suffuses itself into focus and suddenly this chaotic mass of color or and undefined edges resolves and becomes clear to the user.

This is how the learning of my independent study has occurred. Everything I read at first glance seems unrelated or coincidental; Diaghilev and Milhaud’s correspondences, Salade, the evolving culture that surrounds the Ballet Russes, the 1924 Olympics, and the Grande Saison d’Art cloud my mind in some amorphous pool of random facts where all the lines are blurred and each thing seeps into the others. However, I know that history is hardly ever lazy enough to allow itself to be defined by the unrelated or coincidental. I have to take the time to put the picture in focus.

As I’ve read I find one particular question keeps coming up in my mind: in 1924, did the French want to define their culture by keeping a foot in the past or moving into the cosmopolitan style that seemed to be the inevitable future of modernity? Obviously many people had varying opinions on this, but it’s fascinating to me how France decided to portray their culture during a two month event called the Grande Saison d’Art to open the Olympics. Six years after the First Great War, this was France’s opportunity to show their place as Europe’s cultural center. In this event they presented works and artistic endeavors that I would call “quintessentially French”, however, the irony of this is that many of the performances features artists, compositions, or participants who were expatriates. As I find programs and documents related to this two month event what is “French” is so much more than just that. I am looking forward to uncovering more about this.

Every article has delivered some information on what could be defined by the word “French”, so it’s been helpful to hear Pasler’s argument which ties history to the French culture in an inseparable way. Also, the Jackson reading dives into the idea the French adopting different musical traditions to define a distinctly French sound. The first one that comes to mind is using jazz idioms when writing French chansons. They use the sounds of the expats, foreigners, and immigrants around them to create something uniquely French. However, this seems to breed a xenophobia also pervades part of the culture at this time. All these things appear to be working dynamically and in opposition to one another.

The picture is becoming clearer and more distinct every day, yet the road to understanding is paved with many twisted and strange avenues. I am excited to see what picture comes into focus as I continue to a foundation of understanding to support my research.

-Derek Smith