hearing, seeing, breathing Paris

The day we arrive in Paris, it is the solstice, and we are in the thick of the Fete de la Musique, which means that the entire length of the Boulevard Saint-Germain is infested with bands. Bands everywhere. Across from each other, beside each other, surrounding squares and in the middle of them, of every type and description. Think of a long, extended soundclash in all directions between all genres: hip-hop v. jazz v. funk v. hardcore v. goth ... and thousands of people, young and old, drinking, yelling, smashing bottles, dancing, hands in the air, screaming, moshing, singing... ah Paris: what an excellent day to arrive in the city, and a seductive kiss of the night.

We're staying at this exquisite apartment in the Latin Quarter, not two blocks from the Sorbonne. Observing the crowd dynamics last night, I imagined how the energy of May '68 must have erupted, the surging of bodies through streets, to the Seine and the boulevards only to retreat into the windy confines of the student ghetto. A seedy district it is no more, however. It has long been gentrified and the Sorbonne an ancient relic. It is hard to believe it is an active school. Graffiti and posters are utterly absent, the streets lit and safe (so different from Barcelona). The ghost of Debord has been exorcised as clean as the streets the morning after the fete: not a broken bottle in sight.

Trace Reddell and Glenn Bach are with me, neither of whom who have thrown anything at me yet, so I think our flesh relationship is developing nicely. On Thursday we will be dunking the panel, entitled "New Applications in Psychogeography," at the Society for Literature and Science (SLS) conference, taking place at La Cite Universitaire (Paris-VIII).

This morning I awoke and wore the radiation suit. Paris is like that.

Barcelona's labyrinthine Garcia district would be a much better place to blockade and hide, play the revolution game. Certainly it is violent enough -- before I left, a friend of mine was attacked by a knife-wielding Latinate itching for the bloodsport. He escaped alright. Barcelona now is what Paris must have been around 1968. Even then, the Barcelona artists I was staying with tell me that it's nothing like what it was before, that is, before it was "cleaned up" for the 1992 Olympics. Even then, Barcelona slaps me a constant jolt of fear. Paris is relaxing in comparison.

posted. Tue - June 22, 2004 @ 06:36 PM           |