Art Groupie

Sunday, February 27, 2005

We exhausted the morning and afternoon inspecting our dinner restaurant, playing at art museums, and returning to the Jewish quarter to, in film industry terms, pick-up shots—i.e., take photographs at places we missed during normal shooting. I hoped to revisit the Horsey Museum to purchase postcards for my office, but after a second lunch, we went to rest in the hotel room, and as happens, we woke up hours later with barely time to write and prepare for dinner. It’s for the best. Doolies’s feet and legs hurt from the walking, and mine aren’t much better. We’ve drank many sights with a large straw over four days, and we’re now taking time to savor them—or at least that’s how I justify laziness.

Today dawned cold, with moments of sun giving illusions of warmth, which the troublesome clouds smashed with ice picks. We started by tracing our—as in the Doolies/David team’s—plan for dinner to impress GWEC. While Doolies did all the preparations, I provided slight ancillary support in the form of choosing the time. We then visited the Jewish quarter. Our plan was to take photographs of the few orthodox storefronts in Paris we visited earlier. I don’t think I would have gone if Doolies hadn’t dragged me, which highlights my dilemma with Judaism. I enjoy its beauty, ancientness, and traditions, but there are parts that I don’t identify with, and parts that embarrass me. We did manage to shoot a few photographs and eat lunch at a kosher-falafel restaurant. It’s been too long since I’ve reexamined my beliefs, especially since I want to convince Doolies to join me in my faith.

During our nap, I dreamed I attended a banquet where the diners interrogated one another about some crime. It turned out a female diner sitting next me was a Holocaust doubter. I verbally attacked and vanquished her (not sure the details on the vanquishing, but the dream had that hero-quality I’ve related previously). I don’t know if this erupted from today’s thoughts or because I’m in France, one of the seats of the massacre.

After leaving the Jewish district, we visited the Picasso museum. Rick Steve, who’s opinion we’ve trusted, gave this museum one triangle (he rates sites based on triangles—don’t ask) and three triangles for the “Picasso fan.” While any self-respecting Picasso fan would not look to Mr. Steve to decide whether to visit this museum, it turns out that I am a Picasso fan. I loved his work (Picasso’s work, not Rick Steve’s, who I appreciated but didn’t love in the traditional sense). As I mentioned yesterday, I enjoy imaginative work that pushes the edges of sanity. Picasso has plenty of this, from his sculptures to his paintings. I purchased half dozen postcards with some of his stranger (and therefore more interesting) work, which I’ll use to decorate my work office. I tried to buy a larger poster, but all the large posters were of his more standard fare.

After visiting the Picasso museum, I must correct yesterday’s declaration of being a late-stage Van Gogh fan. I’m actually a Picasso and late-stage Van Gogh fan.

After leaving the museum, we headed back to the Pompidou. During our first visit, fatigue kept us from understanding its layout, and we missed the entire top floor crammed with the modernist movement including more (but slightly unsatisfying) Picasso. This gave a wonderful sense of how the painters of this movement worked together, freely borrowing one another’s ideas to move the art forward. Some of my old fears and doubts rose up during this visit. I wondered again if I discovered art too late. There were whole worlds of expression and, more importantly, ways of perceiving the world that I didn’t know existed until recently. It’s the same thoughts I have about my writing: I wasted so much time not writing, I wonder if it is it too late to begin now. In my insides, I know that loving art is not a question of when but if. It is better for an eighty-year old to spend the last years of her life enjoying a newly discovered love of art, than spending that time lamenting that it took her so long to find it. I’m not eighty yet, and I should use my exposed passion not by regretting the past, but with joy of the future. I do not want to write about cleverness; I want to write about revelation and squiggly mental imagery.

I wrote some of the above after napping from the latent jetlag and exhausting walks. When I woke, I asked Doolies what time it was. I should have known something was amiss when I asked and she answered, “what time?” When I asked her for a third time, she said, “I said it’s five,” and fell back asleep. We planned to meet GWEC at 7pm to start our evening activities, and I made a note of my computer’s clock, which I never bothered to reset from Seattle time, and added an hour and a half to ensure that we’d have time to prepare before dinner. When the phone rang thirty minutes later, I knew we were in trouble. Erik called and said, “We waited until 7:30pm, but then had to call you.” I thought he was joking. When he convinced me that he was serious, I looked to Doolies, who woke up confused, and with no recollection of checking her watch earlier (or of the conversation). This was the second time we were late to a GWEC dinner. Our first night in Paris we had a good excuse: we deplaned early in the afternoon and were still affected by the flight. Even with our lateness, we succeeded with tonight’s dinner. The dinner Doolies planned was tasty, and our night walk to Notre Dame went well. Okay, that’s probably stretching the definition of “well.” The plan was good, but the weather was vicious; with the wind-chill factor, the temperatures probably dipped close to zero degrees Fahrenheit. We tried to make do, but after snapping a few pictures, we hurried to the Metro station to return to the hotel.

Doolies is now sleeping and I’m finishing typing my thoughts for the day. I still have much to supplement in the earlier sections, and I’ll save my final thoughts on the trip for tomorrow’s ride home.