Edmund White’s The Flaneur: A Stroll through the Paradoxes of Paris (2001); or, another night of insomnia, another short book

511krl1ZVELEarly on, White offers a hostage to fortune when he quotes Loius Sébastien Mercier:

Like a true flâneur, Mercier found his ‘research’, disorganized and fragmented as it might be, endlessly absorbing. As he put it, ‘I haven’t been bored once since I started writing books. If I’ve bored my readers, may they forgive me, since I myself have been hugely amused’. (35)

However, White knows how to create the impression of flattering his reader when really he is flattering no-one but himself. Describing Théophile Gautier’s attendance at a monthly meeting of Le Club de Hachichins, who basically ate huge lumps of jellied hash, he writes:

All the signs of being totally, deliriously, even dangerously stoned, so well known to my readers, were already familiar to the arty denizens of Hôtel de Lauzun. (132)

He then goes on to quote the position Baudelaire, who likely only took hashish once or twice, in the great wine vs. hash debate that raged through probably very few fashionable salons:

he compared hasish  unfavourably to wine, which he thought was more ‘democratic’ because more cheaper and more widely available… To be precise he praised both wine and hashish for promoting ‘the excessive poetic development of mankind’, but he pointed out that ‘wine exalts the will, hashish annihilates it. Wine is a support to the body, hashish is a weapon for suicide. Wine makes people good and friendly, hashish isolates. One is hard-working, so to speak, whereas the other is essentially lazy. … Wine is for those people who work and deserve to drink it. Hashish belongs to the category of solitary pleasures; it is made for the unhappy idle. Wine is useful, it produces fruitful results. Hashish is useless and dangerous.’ (133-4).

And to end on a bitchy note, after several pages snarkily but not inaccurately lambasting the lifeless artworks of Gustave Moreau, he concludes the chapter:

Moreau once declared: ‘I love my art so much that I’ll be happy only when I make it for myself’. His wish came true. (144)

With luck I’ll sleep tonight…




Paris – mostly revolutionary, mostly morbid, but with a hint of nudity

This statue stands on the spot where the guillotine was erected to execute Louis XVI in January 1793. guillotine a Somewhere near these gates, the guillotine was erected to execute Marie-Antoinette in October 1793. guillotine b Jean Sylvain Bailly was an early leader of the French Revolution and the first mayor of Paris. He was guillotined during the Reign of Terror. guillotine In April 1834, a workers uprising broke out against new laws limiting the activities of Republican organisations such as the Society of the Rights of Man. 13,000 police took four days to quell the uprising. On the Rue Transnonain, police massacred all the residents of one apartment building. transnonain Not even a fucking plaque. rue_transnonain_le_15_de_avril_1834 Honoré Daumier’s lithograph Rue Transnonain, le 15 Avril 1834 appeared in the journal La Caricature. When the original was discovered, he was imprisoned for six months. In the the Musée d’Orsay, we found Maximilien Luce’s Une rue de Paris en mai 1871. painting We also, I kid you not, saw a hipster find a portrait of a 19th century man with a similar beard to his own and take a selfie in front of it. The whole city groaned. In spring 1871, the last of the communards hid out in the Père Lachaise cemetery. The victorious Armée versaillaise put one hundred and forty-seven Fédérés up against the wall and shot them and threw their corpses in a trench by the wall. communards communards a Opposite this simple memorial is the grave of Marx’s daughter Laura and her husband Paul Lafargue, who wrote among many other things the excellent The Right to Be Lazy. In old age, they committed suicide rather than be a burden on the revolution. lafargues a     lafargues           Nestor Makno, the Ukrainian anarcho-communist revolutionary was cremated here, too. makhno   I guess I’m wilfully mistranslating/misunderstanding the inscription on this. mistranslation On a cheerier note, this is the bar where Lenin and Trotsky used to hang out in 1915/16 to play chess. lenin I guess it was a little less blandly bourgeois back then. The current management are less inclined to recall Bolshevik grandmasters than to boast that Pierce Brosnan once ate there. Lenin, mind you, can pop up in the least expected places (as, indeed, can Stalin). lenin penis

le hipster parisienne 2015 – un essai photographique dans le français execrable

dans le matin, le hipster parisienne salue le soleil  et chills sur sa balcon (sans underpants)
dans le matin, le hipster parisienne salue le soleil de son balcon, sans le underpants
après un petit déjeuner tardif, le hipster parisienne...
après un petit déjeuner tardif, le hipster parisienne dans le underpants comicale aime à contester …
...avec ses amis imaginaires: qui a ordonné le espresso Guillermo?
…avec ses amis (imaginaires): qui ordonné l’espresso Guillermo?
le hipster parisienne dédaigne ironiquement chaussures afin de cacher à son engagement à consommer des produits masculins de toilettage
le hipster parisienne disdainé (ironiquement) les shoes en order de concealé son passion à consommer des produits masculins de toilettage
le hipster parisienne, il transpire, est...
le hipster parisienne, il transpire, est…
insufférable totalement (sans underpants)
…insufférable totalement. Sans (ou même avec) le underpants.