My Brain on Fire: Paris and Other Obsessions

My Brain on Fire: Paris and Other Obsessions

by Leonard Pitt


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My Brain on Fire: Paris and Other Obsessions by Leonard Pitt

This is Leonard Pitt’s story of growing up the misfit in Detroit in the 1940s and 50s. In a later age he would have been put on Ritalin and paraded before psychiatrists because he couldn’t pay attention in school. In 1962, at the end of a misguided foray towards a career in advertising he took the ultimate cure, a trip to Paris. He thought it would only be a visit. He stayed seven years. There in the City of Light, Leonard’s mind exploded. And it hasn’t stopped since.

Studying mime with master Etienne Decroux and living in Paris were the university he never knew. This inspiration unleashed a voracious appetite to understand the “why” of things. He asked a simple question, “Why did the ballet go up?” While building a theatre career performing and teaching, he embarked on a quest to study the origins of the ballet, the history of early American popular music, the pre-Socratic philosophers, early modern science, the European witch hunt, the history of Paris, and more. To his unschooled mind it all fits together. Who would see a historical arc between Louis XIV and Elvis Presley? Leonard does. And he’ll tell you about it.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781593766344
Publisher: Soft Skull Press, Inc.
Publication date: 03/15/2016
Pages: 356
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Leonard Pitt is an actor and author. He has written three books on Paris, Walks Through Lost Paris and Paris Postcards: The Golden Age, plus A Small Moment of Great Illumination, Searching for Valentine Greatrakes the Master Healer. He currently teaches physical theater in Berkeley. He has performed and taught around the world and lives in Berkeley, California.

Table of Contents

Introduction 9

Chapter 1 Early Misery, Later Salvation 15

Chapter 2 Breaking Away 33

Chapter 3 Paris at Last 43

Chapter 4 Louis's High Heels 59

Chapter 5 Pursuing the Dance 79

Chapter 6 The Fabulous Garden of the Palais-Royal 91

Chapter 7 The English Lesson 101

Chapter 8 Richard's Turtle 121

Chapter 9 Thrown Out of the Café 133

Chapter 10 The Spectacular Rise and Ignominious Fall of Napoleon III 147

Chapter 11 My Dinner with Simson 165

Chapter 12 Oceans of Black Ink 177

Chapter 13 My Fifteen Minutes of Fame 193

Chapter 14 Life After Paris 211

Chapter 15 Seeing the Patterns 223

Chapter 16 Chasing That Thought 233

Chapter 17 Eco-Rap 247

Chapter 18 Writing Paris 253

Chapter 19 Paris and the Future, Uh-oh! 259

Chapter 20 The Key to a Brilliant Paris Future 275

Chapter 21 The Origins of the Aesthetic of Modern Architecture 285

Chapter 22 Dissociation in Architecture 301

Chapter 23 Back to School For Me 307

Chapter 24 A Family Portrait 313

Chapter 25 Surprised by Love 325

Chapter 26 The One Thing Missing From Our Beautiful Life 337

Chapter 27 How Can I Forget, Chocolate 343

Chapter 28 And in the End 345

Epilogue 349

Acknowledgments 351

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