Readers, I have just returned home from a very lovely weekend in Paris. A very interesting city for the ghost-buster.
I must report that I did not find any ghosts, though I came close in the upstairs readings rooms at Shakespeare and Company Bookshop. There, I purchased Reason and Revolution: Hegel and the Rise of Social Theory by Herbert Marcuse, and an insightful treatise on Tai Chi. Certainly the traces of the past are much more vivid, much more evident on those beat n dusty bookshelves in Shakespeare’s, in the back alleys of Les Halles – than my own Whitechapel. I did not get the chance to practise Xing-Yi or Mizong: for the sharp incline at the Parc de Buttes Chaumont prevents any rigorous arm-swinging. That and the cigarette, constantly drooping from my lips in August heat. Why I was there only this morning. I now write this from Tottenham.
We stayed here readers, just off the Rue de Montorgueil; superbly captured by Monet in a painting which we observed in the Musee D’Orsay.
I found it incredible. The silence of the museum is marred by the incessant whirring and clicking of digital cameras, phone cameras and mobile phones. They play a digital recording of the noise a real camera makes when a photograph is taken. American tourists, Japanese tourists, British tourists. All obsessing about capturing the famous works on display there. Capturing an iconic painting, an iconic image on one’s phone: regardless of name, date or timbre. It matters not. Art is consumed like this. You enter the room, recognise a masterpiece and then capture it, for a lifetime, on the megapixels of one’s Nokia. Surely this is anti-ghost///anti-spirit. The gallery as mall. Shopping for snaps to take back and show Whistler’s Mother to the folks at home, how you saw it and got the photo to prove it. Where is Spirit in this picture?
Up close I went and looked at the brushstrokes.