Thursday, March 29, 2007

rue des solitaires [part II] head out of the park and wind your way down towards a nearby working class neighborhood around the Place des Fêtes.
The buildings here are modest in size, the streets are narrower, and worn-out clothes hang to dry outside the upper windows. In a small courtyard, you hear children's voices and cartoon songs echoing from dim interiors, and the smell of cooking wafts out with the sounds. The late morning light is brightening up above the shadowy corners, warming the pale stone walls.
You hear the approaching sound of heels clicking sharply in hurried steps along the cobbled pavers, and then retreating behind the slam of a door. It is a scene that could easily be suffused with Magritte's visual sensibility. Still astride on your bicycle, but balanced on the curb, you take it all in.
This metaphysical tranche de vie that goes on around you while you insert yourself for a brief moment... and then wondering what it would be like to be imbued with it for a while longer, to actually saturate yourself into this vague "surreal-scape" as a sojourner.
Number 18 on the Rue des Solitaires has weathered celadon green walls and grimy white window shutters. Above the front door on the second floor is a large arched niche with a statue of a male nude. His right arm is tucked up behind him while his left arm is raised, with the nicked elbow leaning against the wall and the hand shielding his eyes, as if he is waiting... or searching out for someone.
You feel an immediate pull... un rapprochement...
The latent possibility of "Life itself... summoned into being this poetic deity which thousands will pass blindly by, but which suddenly becomes palpable and terribly haunting for those who have at last caught a confused glimpse of it."
[Louis Aragon in 'Paris Peasant', 1926]
You want to enter his private domain, to behold the lives within... to peruse their solitudes on a street with such an achingly romantic name.
You look up at the three windows on each of the two upper floors, with their shutters now thrown open... and you feel your spirit yearning for a spell in these rooms.
You imagine yourself standing at one of the windows above, breathing in the soft spring morning on the Rue des Solitaires, while tracing the path of a lone cyclist riding by with a warm brioche nestled in the basket of his black vélo... both of you raptly intoxicated by all the nostalgic possibilities that is still Paris...

[excerpted from "Rue des wistfully explored by Mme. V" by g. verster, 2004]