mercredi 21 septembre 2011

Un café à trois : A lazy girl's diary

Thursday, September 22nd

Today's contribution to The Bridge will be a mess, not in its contents (at least i hope so), but in its shape, because i started filling my Moleskine a few days before my turn and kept writing in it until today, getting more scared with every line by the amount of typing that would be waiting for me in the end. I would have been capable of going on that lazy way, unable to take the bull by the horns, had i not decided this morning to promise a post for tonight.
Here it is.

Saturday, September 10th, 12 a.m.

- This sudden craving for a Bridge moment deserves to be crowned by the creation of a new word.
I name thee, Bridge urge, a Process of Bridgification. Starting from this very instant, it will become possible to Bridgify (the act of Bridgifying), to Bridgify (turn a moment or a location into a Bridge topic), to be Bridgified, to be caught Bridgifying. -

It feels good, now. Even if it is not my turn, i have decided not to wait any longer to have this café à 3 alone. It is funny, how the process of writing works, because if i wanted to be precise and use tenses cleverly, i would rather say that i am deciding it right now. Anyway. Grammar carefully left on the side, i switch back to the main course.

You can say it is 'the place' you want to bridgify when you find 'it' randomly and instantly think that you would have to come back here when you'll be alone, have some time to lose and be equipped with your Moleskine in a pocket. But as it usually ends up in quickly writing the address on a piece of paper torn from a table mat, tuck it in a pocket and let the washing machine take care of its destiny, it tends to bring nothing, no post at all.
But today, i happen to be fortunate enough to be in possession of both Time and Moleskine and decide to turn the latter into an ink-witness for the progression of the first.

All is well that starts well, and the best way to start is almost always a description of the surroundings.

On the ceiling, separating alveolar areas thouroughly vented by hyperactive fans, ranges of fake red wine bottles are held on suspended shelves, each and every of them labelled with the same '2o1o Bouquet!' mention. Instead of red, it is fake white wine that is filling every twentieth bottle, lit from underneath (or behind, it is hard to say from where i am) by powerful bulbs. This particular uncommon way to gloomily lighten the room would have been sufficient to bring me here, but what i spotted first and which decided me to sit in this brasserie and nowhere else was the display of the tables, round, large and comfortable-looking leather couches around them, and on top of everything, the old-fashioned articulated desk lamps scattered throughout the place.
The view of these lamps suddenly reminds me why i was looking for a seat in a café in the first place: i came here to start sketching the dozen illustrations i promised to my sister-in-law for her new website. So much for the drawings: frantic Bridgifying cannot wait nor be held inside.

At the table right next to me, a woman has the neck bent low on a book filled with crosswords grids that she has been solving without the shortest break for the past twenty minutes, maybe even more. I realise that i have been watching her for more than five minutes as intensely as if she had been manufacturing a very fine piece of jewelry. The velocity of her ball-point pen is beyond human writing skills and she seems to be as absorbed by her activity as i am. I risk taking a picture because she will doubtlessly not notice me (and indeed, no the slightest sign of a reaction, despite the loud 'hey!-i'm-taking-a-picture-of-you-look-look!' click of my camera). The waiter on the other hand is looking at me, amused by the scene. I throw him an apologetic half-smile and resume with my writing after a long sip of my 'Coca Zero'. I would love to shake the woman's shoulder, not as much to disturb her as to check whether she is human or if she is the last prototype of a crossword-bot.

3 p.m.
Surprise surprise! (Or no surprise at all, as i was actually waiting for her) i was joined by Elodie for lunch, which allows me to add a second location to this post, as i moved to another drinkwell, th Pick-Clops, an american-retro-looking bar located in the 4th Arrondissement where they manufacture dream bagels. I did not come here for the bagels though, i came here because i was hot, thirsty, and because i knew i would find there what i was craving for: a nice squeezed lemon and a clean table on which to keep writing (and eventually start drawing). I actually found more that i was praying for: a dark haired woman, sitting in front of me accross the bar, using her left hand to write in a black notebook and drinking a squeezed lemon. I could swear that she is the 'through-the-looking-glass' version of me. There is no doubt about the fact that, had i the opportunity to spy on the contents of her notebook, i would discover her through-the-looking-glass version of The Bridge, linking South-America, Sweden and France, (-logically, but not ideo-, based simply on the fact that she is in France right now and not on the chauvinist thought that good Bridges can only be partly set on a French shore). The sight of her, or rather the knowledge of her presence over the looking-glass, as i don't directly look at her but try to focus on my own writings, will keep my mind busy for a while. The pair of us in a place like this on a sunny Saturday afternoon, in the most animated area of the city, in the glorious company of four sqeezed lemons in each glass and a notebook, this is priceless!

Le Pick Clops is the dreamland of those who fancy the smell of fresh pop-corn as much as the thought to have slipped into another time zone. The classic 'mojito' and other standards on the menu are a bit of a give-away that it really is the twenty-first century in Paris, but apart from that, bright-coloured tables and chairs, pink neon tubes on the walls, turquoise blue bathroom and mosaic pilars, iron-clad high stools around the counter, retro movie posters, almost everything is made to plunge the customer into the Grand American Sixties. Doughnuts would make the perfect picture but (and it is a mystery) they have not been adopted yet.
And it is with the quite touching vanishing mental picture of a plump cinnamon doughnut with dark chocolate icing that i decide, out of sheer frustration, to stop the contemplation of the bar and pull my drawing sketchbook out of my cotton bag.

Sunday 18th

Sunday, gloomy Sunday.

Heaven knows why i want to write about today. Possibly because of that suspicious habit of mine to be very serious about a certain dark topic, maybe because i have had a very unpleasant revelation about the very same topic that shook an entire part of my education, of my culture and of my sensibility. No matter the reason, i feel like it should be Bridgified, because it is directly linked to the History of Paris and after all, The Bridge is also about History.

Today, Elodie and i answered to Erwann's invitation to accompany him to work (n.b.: he's a journalist) in Drancy, for the commemoration of the seventieth anniversary of the internment camp that stood in this small town of the suburban crown.

To quickly summarise the thing, the camp of Drancy is known for having been the most active internment platform of occupied France, through which transited thousands of prisoners from the whole country (including a large amount of small children) before they were sent 'to the East' under Nazi authority - but by French hands.

No need to give that many more details about the afternoon to explain why i got out of it a bit shaken. What is interesting on the contrary is the explanation i came up with after a few hours of deep reflexion and which proved to be far more disturbing.
I've been reading about deportation and concentration camps since i was a child, novels, documents and testimonies, i've visited Dachau and the Struthof-Natzweiler camp, i've been talking to eye witnesses and survivors, i've had nightmares, i've been watching documentary films and fictions for years (almost two decades) and despite all this i found myself almost cold when the mayor of Drancy gave his speech, in his thick and simple man-next-door's voice. No emotion, no feeling but one of puzzleness, as if all of a sudden, the tragedy of extermination camps had turned vulgar, as if i had been caught in a violent state of misanthropy.
The square was very windy (but not in that poetical way i worship so much). Everyone was here rabbi, police officers, choir girls, grandchildren of victims, but they were all blank, talking about another time, another world they knew nothing about, or at least it felt like that. It felt like they were on a stage and their words, prayers and songs were empty, factice, meanwhile i was listening to them only thinking how boring and dull the whole human race was. Shameful misanthropic thought, very unusual in my head.

But something odd happened then:
I was shivering and shaking under the assaults of both the wind and the global nonsense of the scene, when a man put his palm on my shoulder. I turned to face him. He was wearing a long tan coat on which was pinned a label claiming that he belonged to the Jewish community of survivor's children. He looked at me and, designating his own collar, simply asked if i wanted him to lend me his coat. Out of the whole freezing assembly, i, the only tall, blond and blue-eyed girl, i was the one who got offered a coat by the most anachronic man i had ever met. For a moment i thought i was facing the ghost of a man from the forties. Simply looking at him made the dimmer of the afternoon switch to another setting. The speech was now touching, normal random people surrounding me were no longer random at all but unique and precious, the way they looked at each other was that specific vernacular way of those who have a common fabric, and the offer from that man was highly symbolic and moving. I declined politely, but i was shaken.

All this to say that after thinking back a while, i started to feel uneasy and the feeling has not left me since. I feel uneasy because i suspect myself of having a fictionalized vision of the second world war's deportations and of being unable to link it to reality, to the human lives it directly concerned, to the tangible human flesh and to the most precious daily existence of these victims, which would make me almost as dangerous as those who believe that all this belongs to the past and has to be forgotten to move on.

That was a very gloomy Sunday indeed and it took me a while to pinpoint that knot.

Thursday, September 22nd

I cannot post this as it is: it looks like a teenager's diary and i am not entirely certain whether The Bridge can be that or should rather not.

Tomorrow, Elodie and i will be spending the day in Disneyland. Maybe i could bring back something that could lighten the post a bit?

Friday, September 23rd

I found what i was looking for:

especially dedicated to those who usually get lost in the maze.

2 commentaires:

  1. It's interesting that with this post, I understand now why I was sent to Himmelweg, or the reenactment of what was that concentration camp. I swear though, it felt like I was, I'd been there ..

  2. "Alice: Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?
    The Cat: That depends a good deal on where you want to get to
    Alice: I don't much care where.
    The Cat: Then it doesn't much matter which way you go.
    Alice: …so long as I get somewhere.
    The Cat: Oh, you're sure to do that, if only you walk long enough."

    It is a relief to know that there are other crossword-bots out there, I thought it was just my mom, but she really is a pro, I could stand in front of her dancing hula-hula and she wouldn't notice...

    I hope you had fun in Disneyland!