Sunday, October 4, 2009

Art and History

The other day I was exploring Montparnasse and out of nowhere suddenly loomed the Montparnasse Tower – a huge, black, imposing skyscraper that, at night, is especially dark except for the red lights that shine out from every other floor giving it a demonic presence. The tower itself is very reminiscent of Centre Point in London but is newer and not nearly as friendly looking. It has, in fact, caused a lot of controversy and Parisians generally hate it for destroying the skyline of historic Paris. I took the metro home just past midnight and just as we had left the station the train lurched to a halt, the carriage was plunged into darkness and it suddenly became very hot. Whilst I quietly waited for the dementors to arrive another girl was not quite so calm and started screaming and jiggling around in her seat. Her friends consoled her in a half joking, half serious manner and within a couple of minutes we were on the move again. Nevertheless it was rather un-nerving especially since there was no explanation from the driver.

I paid a visit to The Louvre the other day. I have to say I was somewhat disappointed. It was too big, there were too many people and it was too hot. Despite my having timed my visit for a weekday afternoon it was still absolutely packed and rather than spending time looking at the works of art I seemed to spend more time dodging people who were taking photographs. Instead of wandering peacefully from room to room as one does in London galleries you can either fight against hoards of people surging through the various galleries or you can simply go with them, which, although might make for an easier visit, certainly doesn’t make for a more pleasurable one. Aside from all this, very few of the paintings seemed to have blurbs written about them and most just had a line or two giving the name of the artist, where they came from and the date. They say that if you spend just three seconds looking at every piece of art it will take you three months before you’ve seen everything.

Once I’d found my way out I decided to go and sit in the gardens just in front of the museum. It was a lovely sunny day and as the rats scampered back into the hedgerows I settled myself in a quiet spot in the shade. I was teaching in an hour so I set my alarm and dozed peacefully for 30 minutes. I woke up feeling refreshed and energised. I stood up to leave and caught sight of a used condom that had been lying just a couple of feet from where I had been sleeping. Needless to say it marred the experience somewhat and I hurried off to get the metro.

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