Tuesday, August 23, 2011
The rain has finally won and forced me inside. As I climb the twisty old staircase, there is the sound of Indian music that fills the stairwell and the smell of incenses. Everything is dirty here, worn, old. Nothing seems to fit and it is all pieced together little by little, year by year until the original form is no longer recognizable and it all looks like a shambled mess. I hear the sounds of sewage being flushed though pipes on the outside of the building. At least I have a bathroom with a shower. I am on the top floor looking inward toward the hotel and only see the rooms across the garden. A middle-aged man in his underwear appears in an open window below, he smokes and watches the sky. I can see by his expression it is not going to be a good day for him either. Suddenly many of the rooms below me become alive with people waking, dressing, showering. I begin to feel I am the character in the Hitchcock film Rear Window as I sit at small wobbly desk in the window and write.
Dexter Gordon blowing his sax on a tune called Darn That Dream is both soothing and calms my nerves energy but is disconcerting to my state of mind, as I ponder if all that I have come to Paris for has been a success? In some ways, yes I have made some incredible connections and found a calmer side to my restless soul, but on the other side, no I have been confronted by the realization that this process does not happen over night, like we always tend to dream in the United States. It’s going to take a lot of work, considerable time, and endless effort, to make a go of this. And I am sure it’s going to take days for the effects of this journey to settle in my mind. Another man strips in another window across one level down, I see him fully exposed, absolutely bare, I laugh at the irony of myself being the naked man, seeing more nudity this morning from my window. It is becoming amusing and yet I am filled with a sadness and a loneliness like I have never known. I can see the sky from my window and the clouds are beginning to break. The coolness is a relief after all the muggy hotness. I can smell the smoke from Cigarettes wafting up from the courtyard below as all the naked people are now dressed and eating their petit dejeuner (breakfast.) The final window opens to reveal another naked man sitting at his window trying to get his laptop to work, as I want to yell across the courtyard “good luck with that one buddy”. He scratches his head in discouragement.
I did manage to spend most of the day at the Louvre, went early afternoon when there were throngs of people that I could barely work my way trough the crowds, took a break and then returned again late afternoon when it was not quite so crowded to see the remaining things I really wanted to see. The Louvre is probably the most impressive collection of art in the world. To walk its massive galleries and corridors is like stepping into another time, many other times. It represents the best of every artistic period up to the modern era perfectly categorized into country, origin, and history. It’s almost overwhelming to see so much really remarkable works. I found myself constantly going in circles and sometimes ending up in the same place, with the woman in the same chair, probably taking the same nap, when I realized I been lost. In the wilderness, we mark the trees when we are lost, but in a place like this, the beautiful colors and frames should be your markers, but there is such an abundance that I was so often disoriented and confused by direction or time. Then suddenly I would step into a gallery and would be captivated by something I recognized from my study in books so long ago. It’s vibrancy becomes it’s own seduction on the wall. Indeed there is a plan, but perhaps this is the real way to experience the majestic world of The Lourve. I thought I was fairly educated on art, its history and many of its movements, but I felt like a complete fool seeing so much stuff I had never heard of before. It would take years to even research. It was a humbling experience to stand before an original Caravaggio painting and gaze into its haunting beauty. The images in the books do no justice to the brilliance of what the images are as they hang before you in such a place. So many of them are massive that I caught myself wondering how does an artist maintain such perspective.
The sun is beginning to break over the top of the building before me. Its warmth fills my face. It is time to get out and explore this fascinating world one more day. What haven’t I done that needs to be done? Where haven’t I been that needs to be seen? Today is for me.
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