Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Paris Journal: Fender Bender

photograph by Hallie Cohen
“Subvert the dominant paradigm” is a bumper sticker recently spotted on the rear of a gray Prius parked on the Rue Servandoni, a small street running up from Saint Sulplice to the Rue de Vaugirard, facing the Jardin du Luxembourg. You might look at the car as a latter day version the bus in which Ken Kesey's Merry Pranksters traveled. However, despite the anomalousness of a Japanese vehicle on streets lined with Peugots and even an old  Deux Chevaux or two, its message is perfect for the land of Jacques Derrida who was one of the founders of deconstruction. You wait for a bespeckled professorial type with wire-rimmed glass and tousled hair with a weathered leather sachel strapped across his shoulder to lay claim to the vehicle. On a quiet Saturday at dusk, in one of the most serene sections of Paris which radiates a profound sense of history, it's, on the other hand, difficult to do anything but bask in the classicism. Rather than subversion, your thoughts stray towards the notion of a perfect Cartesian universe, exemplified by the architecture of Paris’s second largest cathedral and the beauty of the nearby park, in which the heads of famous artists on pedestals dot the landscape. For a moment the universe seems unchanging and full of a purpose which will challenge the anarchy and oblivion that, like a threatening invading army, lay outside the bubble of prosperity and magnanimity that the neighborhood radiates.

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