Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Strawberry Fields Forever

Laduree Sublime
Originally uploaded by ameliefreak

Food is a luxurious treat here. Fast food takes on an entirely different realm with ingenious chains like Quick. Wine flows freely (in no way necessarily associated with the title here). Itinerant stands offer greasy kabab sandwiches and Nutella crepes side-by-side. Rich creams and sauces keep the salmon and salads afloat, not drenched. Couscous and other cuisine of Afrique infiltrates little streets which perhaps had tables once graced only by le pain and a bottle. All of this gracious bounty doesn't come cheap, but that makes it that much more important. American me eyes the natives with wonder at their slender frames in spite of the bounty. Portions are key, and it's evident with what American me sniffs at with every Euro automatically converted into dollars in her head. The rhythms of this city hardly interfere with the pace and polish of picturesque cafes poised on corners for tourists bustling with digicams in hand for the next showing at the Moulin Rouge. Even on the most tourist-y strip in France can one relax with a fragrant cup of tea and the beauty of simple, halved strawberries perched pretty upon a pistachio and mint pastry.

Friday, June 22, 2007

There's nobody near me, there never was

Years ago, I saw a film called Paris, Texas. It was dark and uplifting, morose and humorous, quaintly American and very European, and above all, unrelenting in its depiction of one man's struggle against his own private hell: the one inside his head. Harry Dean Stanton, a perennial of seedy Lynchian plots and one memorable role in Pretty in Pink, gave the primary character Travis heft with his leonine, gangly limbs and sunken brown pupils. Though the film concentrates on Travis' search for his missing family, it also questions the sanctity of convention and companionship when the hills within cry hollow, wispy, and sullen.

One even more paradoxical fact is how the real Paris, Texas is far from any of the desolate desert landscapes featured throughout the film, a coincidence mirroring the truth of intimacy for anyone struggling with personal demons far more demanding than loved ones.

Paris, France does not inspire the solitude and remorse awakened by the dry, dusty, bleached desert of the aforementioned film. Nevertheless, its nexus of historical bohemia appears to infiltrate every stone, and the reams of historical data suggest that even some of the more famous members of bohemia likely suffered from the inertia and cold of solitary standings. Being without any particular occupation or avocation at present (not to mention an actual home, but such mundane details will be covered in a later post) leaves me with ample opportunity to dwell on the details amidst the rushing stream of tourists and Parisien(ne)s sprinting against the tide at the Metro stations. (And yes, I realize that there are likely others who share my thoughts ever so briefly as well, clinging to the valences of stranded solitary musings before shifting levels.)

Yesterday afternoon, on the occasion of this bright and sunny summer solstice, I settled into the cool solace - mind and body - at the Picasso Museum in Marais. In addition to being one of the larger oeuvres of the artist's work, gathered in part through tax "forgiveness" by the French government from his last wife and later his daughter, the museum also boasts a special exhibition on the artist's incredible fascination with the legend (and opera) of Carmen. Given my growing fascination with all things related to those Spaniards, I interrupted the chronological development of the madman's work to peruse the thematic collection.

Mythmaking abounds with grand twentieth-century artists like Picasso. He was certainly no stranger to the grandiose speculations on himself, and indeed, contributed to his own mystique. I can hardly conjecture as to his own particular state of mind, though the exhibit did due justice to showing the symbiotic relationship between life and art. It could be said that Picasso pursued hedonism with the same mathematical precision as he did analytical Cubism (a term he never devised but certainly practiced). The little brochure I got with my ticket explains the artist's fascination stemming from a lifelong admiration and identification with the tragic femme fatale, as well as a tribute to his Spanish heritage: a fantastical hispanity derived from an exile's adoration of bullfights, corridas, and Moorish pasts. Fans, mantillas, toreadors, bullish men, and a few phallic bulls filled the dozens of sketches, studies, notes, and memorabilia collected by the master while contemplating his own epic dramas, all of which unfolded somehow into masterpieces like this.

How strange. Picasso's more famous works scythe the woman's body brutally into fragments with cruel humor for measure. To think that these cleaved works were a double image folded back upon himself threw all of my suppositions out the window as I perused the galleries. Blurbs speaking about his heady lifestyle added more questions to the plate: how could a lover become the enemy? Where was the line between adoration and pathological hatred, sensuality and blatant ugliness? In truth, such binaries had no place in his life, nor any other complex life far from the maddening heteronormative voices of historians. Each image furrowed my brow more so, and riding back home, I wondered how intimacy could be such a sad, scary place. For even his primary lover for nine years couldn't escape his torturous gaze.

Nevermind that I'd been there before. I'd seen that place before, and I knew how and where my memory cleaved the bodies of lovers point blank without even wanting to, a case of trigger-happy knifing that can best be described as the easiest defense. Or the onlinest tribute when far worse things tread upon one's sanity.

** Special thanks to brimful and Ganesh for introducing me to the title that sprouted from this little gem.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

I paint pictures to remember

I've stopped and started and stopped, only to start the prose again. There's a time and place for everything, and right now, I'm reading the barometer. The pressure is exact, it's time to begin. Again. Each edit steady, swift, and sure, and then, in an instant, all changed with a few keystrokes.

Several years since this adventure in navel-gazing first began, I could have hardly imagined myself to be where I am today. Things I once thought unbelievable in my life have all taken place. Yet many tenuous gaps gape at the seams here. Still: it's the exercise of analysis that makes me resist the truth of this futile typing, an electronic memento, a small glimpse into what swarms in this skull.

The hour is late. There's so much to say beyond these cryptic lines. Bonne nuit, my lovelies.