Rants and reactions to contemporary politics, art and culture.
Tuesday, October 14, 2014
Paris Journal II: Sous les toits de Paris
photograph by Hallie Cohen
Triangulation is what neurotic/oedipal people tend to enact.
Rectangulation is the essence of Beaux Arts classicism, the epitome of whose
expression is the Jardin du Luxembourg. It you take a left off the entrance on the
Rue de Vaugirard next to the Musee Luxembourg you will soon come to an oxidized bronze bust of Delacroix and below engraved in the pedestal “Les Admirators”
flanked by two sylphs. You turn and stare down the long grid which might recall
Alain Resnais’ L’Annee derniere a Marienbad(1961).
The rectangles lead to an arbor of chestnut trees whose branches have been trimmed
to accentuate the lines, with nature mimicking the order of architecture. But
along the way on a sunlight October afternoon are concentric circles of purple and green coleus and pink geraniums. The colorful flowers are surrounded by another
circle of equally colorfully attired strollers and runners. The landscaping is
fixed; it’s the people who are the wild card. In the distance the roofs of the
Latin Quarter recall another movie Rene Clair’s Sousles toits de Paris
(1930) But what it’s really like is the illustrations from Ludwig Bemelmans'Madeline, a picture book come to life.
Walking through the gardens is the experience of an idyllic remembered past in
the present. On the other side of the garden facing theLycee Montaigne on a
street named after another classicist figure, the positivist philosopher August
Comte, a woman sits under the russet leaves of a tree, reading in front of a
bust of Baudelaire. Walking towards the Rue d'Assas you pass an espaliered
apple orchard where at least a hundred species are each carefully named and wrapped for protection. Maintenance is hardly the word to describe the love that goes into the upkeep of this immortal landmark.
Francis Levy's debut novel, Erotomania: A Romance, was released in August 2008 by Two Dollar Radio.
His short stories, criticism, humor, and poetry have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The New Republic, The Village Voice, The East Hampton Star, The Quarterly, Penthouse, Architectural Digest, TV Guide, The Journal of Irreproducible Results, and other publications. One of his Voice humor pieces was anthologized in The Big Book of New American Humor (HarperCollins). He is presently the Co-Director of The Philoctetes Center for the Multidisciplinary Study of Imagination (philoctetes.org), where he supervises roundtable discussions on topics as varied as “The Psychology of the Modern Nation State” and “Modern Traffic Theory, Behavior, and Imagination”.