To Missy Dotty from Paris – Darkness 2010

March 9, 2010

Until you have really dedicated yourself to getting lost and wasting time in a city, you can never claim to know her. Never. The soul of a city is like a heart of a woman; she has many chambers……….who said that? No one special. I just made it up bc it sounded cool.

Dotty I am sure you heard of appellation le Ville Lumiere or City of Lights, better known as Paris.

Mention Ville Lumiere and most people will conjure images of well lighted sparkling pools doting the length of the Seine – the Champs-Elysees and Eiffel ablaze. Or perhaps the Pantheon, Sacre Coeur, Trocedero – all bathed in an amber hallo.

Personally I’ve often imagined the expression has more to do with the soul of the city. Only in Parisian café’s Dotty do they do something that no other city in the world does so well – Parisans talk; I am not talking about the bs type of talk; but they really talk…the deep spirited version, that is.

Dotty this just goes to show so much starts with simple conversations (nothing ever comes from the silent treatment). The kind in which you start with a willingness to become a slightly different person, these are conversations that not only open your mind to the possibility of changing your being – but the change they bring can even be transformational. Maybe that why so many new experimental hubs in the world insist on stealing the appellation “café” as a metaphor to describe their quest for discovery –it’s precisely because these places offer loads of opportunity for life changing conversations.

In this respect, I don’t think the appellation ville Lumiere is just about physical light. Besides half a dozen other cities probably have more wattage per square foot than Paris these days. Rather I believe it’s a reference to the light of life changing conversations.

The glow emitted by these café’s which dot Paris is not only climatic; but it’s a something that many refer to as “la atmosphere”, that distinguishes Paris from other cities – it’s a spiritual force that also shapes one’s character, opinions and judgments. It’s a powerful astringent – coffee, cigarettes and conversations – the 3C’s which defines the City of Lights.

 I guess the reason why I see these café’s as embodying the light of the city is because they’re also about escaping the cacophony of modern life all about truing oneself – whatever that means; can well be something trivial like how to hand roll cigarettes or drawing a perfect circle free hand – I bet Mr Dentist can’t do that!

By this, I mean you can teach a man to draw a straight line; or how to string a sentence or even pronounce a word, with admirable speed and precision; but if you ask him to consider the deeper meaning of why he really writes, he stops, his execution becomes scraggy; he thinks, and ten to one he thinks wrong; ten to one he slips up and doesn’t quite manage to convey what’s really in his head on paper – that’s what happens when sometime mechanical is rendered a thinking being, till then he was simply a monkey trained to pick coconuts, a machine, an animated tool, that to me is what these café’s meant to heal; it has to be a human flaw; a condition that even requires medication IMHO – otherwise how can you explain why cafe remain so timeless in the scheme of things?

I know that may come across as trite and even cliché to the uninitiated – but surely even you cannot deny, it may have something to do with the ability to cut out much of the pain in Thoreau’s dictum the “mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.”

I want to show you this side of Parisian life – I bet Mr Dentist can’t do that – place you there where you suddenly find yourself in that familiar depressing sense of estrangement – deepening and sharpening the abyss with the chastening passage of time – only to rescue you……in the land they call lost and found.

Darkness 2010.

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