Paris Diaries: Eternal
I wasn't leaving Paris again without seeing the Thinker in person. While David had told me to go to Musee de Rodin, he hadn't quite impressed me with why I should go.
The Musee de Rodin is one of the best museums in Paris and the perfect museum to visit in May. The Thinker is in the sculpture garden amidst rose bushes taller than I am. I, saving my photos for Versailles, foolishly thought SOMEONE would definitely take a picture of such a glorious sight-the seriousness of the Thinker in the middle of such a romantic celebration. Thinking is romantic! How revelatory!
But no one has taken a picture and so you'll just have to rely on my description of it. You walk into the garden ,and there are several large bowers of red roses that obscure the statue so you must walk to the center in order to actually see the statue, up on its pedestle, in the sun.
I moved onto to the Gates of Hell. For the first time, I was a little lonely that the Doberman wasn't there. I'm sure we would have gotten ourselves almost arrested, him trying to get the guard to take a picture of him dragging me toward the Gates as I attempt to escape Eternal Damnation.
The gardens are lovely in that very precisely designed way that the French have of gardening. The grounds are also not crowded. People come there to read the paper, to have picnics, to sit and have tea. And if one bores of the company or needs to take a moment of silence, why there is also all this sublime art to admire. There is also le Jardin de Varenne by the garden where you can buy salads, sandwiches, ice cream, and most importantly, wine. While many museum "cafeterias" are over priced and disappointing, Le Jardin de Varenne, while a bit pricey was worth it and I enjoyed a salad a glass of wine while sitting in the sun admiring the fountain that depicted Ugolino.
If picnicking there, however, one should beware that the little birdies are so friendly and tame that they will make off with the entire top of your sandwich if you aren't careful, which happened to the elderly couple next to me. Incidentally there is one other fun fact about the Musee de Rodin, it's free for the unemployed!
Unfortunately, Rodin is known for his erotic work. He understand the lines of women, how to give the inner curse of a leg or the twist of a spin. It made me regret not having a lover, which was odd since only a day before I was overjoyed not to be so burdened. It seems it is hard for me to remember what pains the asses boys can be. Luckily there is always one around to remind me.
While walking through the Musee de Rodin I was again struck by what a miracle art is. A person can take a hunk of clay or a block of marble or a heap of words and out of that create figures and characters and make people feel so much they go home and cry or laugh or screw-to me this is the greatest of miracles.St. Augustine wrote about the power of literature complaining that he wept tears for Dido that he never felt for himself.Thus artists have the power to coax emotions from us that we feel for no one else, not even ourselves.
If that doesn't seem miraculous to you, it's most likely because you haven't really thought about it. Because it's stunning. It's a miracle. It's glorious. You think water to wine is a miracle? That's a liquid to liquid conversion. This is taking a blank page and making characters and a world and a life. OK so it's not slaying of the first born, but it's still pretty impressive especially considering how little time we have on Earth and how many limitations we face.
My students can't think of anything more boring. I wax on about the wonder of Dante-a three part epic poem 100 cantos all together in the terza rima, which reorganizes Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven, handles characters from Greek and Roman mythology, Biblical characters, and contemporary figures not to mention charting the entire trip in real time (there are hints in the Inferno about what time it is, thus you can chart Dante's journey and what time he hits certain levels of Hell). He had to come up with successive tortures not to mention a logic to Hell. (In Dante, that logic is that the sinners are punished by their sins-thus the depressives wallow in the mud of a bog.) It's amazing, it's epic, it's unbelievable. It is, to my students, the height of boredom.
After appreciating the beauty of Rodin, I made my way to the Eiffel Tower. I had never actually seen the Eiffel Tower. My friend David who recommended the Musee de Rodin told me the Eiffel Tower wasn't that interesting. And I believed him.
There may be not logical reason why the Eiffel Tower is so impressive. It just is. I walked close and lay on the grass and looked up at it. With my knee and and ankle bothering me there was no way I could climb the stairs to make it to the first set of elevators, but that was OK. It was a nice day-there was a child climbing a tree near me. Boys walking around oogling girl tourists. Busload upon busload of people from all over quickly trying to snap a pic. The mounted police trot by. Two women walked by and one leaned over to the other and said, "you know they have a smaller one of those in Las Vegas."
But me, I was content to just lie on the grass and look up at the Tower. It's not the Thinker. It's not a Monet, but there is something about it the curved lines. It just seems lovely and strange as does almost everything in France. I took out my guide book and picked a restaurant in the area to find. And I thought about sending him a letter, the one I came here to escape. Everyone deserves one letter from Paris. After all I have let go of my rage here. And he sent me here. Shouldn't he know?
I begin to write in my head, and rewrite it, and perfect it. But I don't bother to pick up a pen. Eventually I tire of imprinting my letter on the Paris sky and just lean back and look and listen and breathe.
Finally I get up and begin to meander in the direction of the restaurant. As I walk, I find a bakery and buy a baguette. It's still warm and crispy from the oven. I begin to feel like i am finding my way again, like I know how to do Paris. I walk the small side streets investigating little markets and stores. I find a dress or two before I finally collapse in a booth at the restaurant. The couple next to me is Texan, they ask if the escargot are "big snails." I manage not to visit violence on them so filled am I with good steak and butter and wine.
I walk slowly back to the hotel through the perfect Paris night. Tomorrow, rain or shine, it's time to go to Versailles.
Labels: eiffel tower, paris, rodin
Bad Bunni posted at 9/22/2007 08:27:00 AM