Thursday, August 15, 2013

Paris eternal

Bumming around Paris, trying to catch a glimpse of the me who lived here in 2001-2, a joyful rediscovery of the incomparable church of St. Etienne-du-Mont, beautiful not only in itself but as the only survivor of one of the less-celebrated periods of European architecture - late gothic-into-Reinaissance. The resting place of Blaise Pascal, this is where I went to mass during my Parisian year, and also attended a concert of some Duruflé (he was organist here) and the performance by one Eugène Green of one of Bossuet's funeral orations from the pulpit.Also had an encounter with a new tradition I recall reading about somewhere. Padlocks of love, the keys thrown festively into the Seine, have transformed the Pont de l'Archevêche and the Pont des Arts. I'm curious when and how this tradition began - a quick internet search suggests it might have been an East Asian thing - but now it's part of tourists' experience of Paris, the eternal city of undying love. I didn't check to see if any of the names written on the padlocks were of same-sex couples, so recently recognized in France... But, especially since most of the locks are quite hefty, there seems something a little brutal in the whole thing: a vignette for a future history of the institution of marriage in a rapidly dissolving Europe?

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