Sunday, March 06, 2016

Paris-New York

In a few hours I'll be in the air, on my way to Paris! Busy and scatter-brained as I am, I haven't put much thought into what I'll do there, beyond the colloquium, a visit with old family friend, and a trip to see an eccentric relative marooned in Burgundy. But, really: Paris, and in the Springtime! But... is it Spring there yet?

Wondering what it's like in Paris of a March 7th, I checked my diary from the year I lived there, 2001-2. Turns out I wasn't there but ... in New York City, having a campus interview for a job at a place called The New School for Social Research! (We know how that turned out,) While in New York I swung by the Oscar Wilde bookstore and picked up a little book by Edmund White called The Flâneur: A Stroll through the Paradoxes of Paris and found it wanting: even after just half a year I felt quite the authority on flânerie. But I did quote, in large letters, some words White cites from John Ashbery: "Having lived in Paris unfits you for living anywhere, including Paris." Is that a Parisian state of mind? Was that mine, the year I was sort of trying to be Parisian?

In any case, it's clear what I will do between and around my commitments this coming week. I'll flâne. It might even intersect with the concerns of the conference - "Walking in the city" is one of Michel de Certeau's most widely read works (in English at least), though I don't recall his dwelling on flânerie. Funny that I hadn't noticed that - though of course de Certeau's essay purports to be about New York, not - as every work of French theory inevitably is - about the city of lights.

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