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dimanche sous la pluie

“The purpose of art is not the release of a momentary ejection of adrenaline,” said Glenn Gould at the end of his life, “but is, rather, the gradual, lifelong construction of a state of wonder and serenity.”

Quoted in a fascinating article, written by a man in prison for life, in the latest “Walrus.”
I thought of Glenn’s words yesterday as Lynn and I toured the Musée du Quai Branly. We’d decided to see if we could get in, though yesterday was the first Sunday of the month and so all the museums in Paris are free – attractive financially but often impossible physically, as the places are jam-packed. By the time we arrived through the rain at Branly, however, there was no line-up, and we charged in.
It’s one of the best museums in Paris, filled with treasure – artifacts, stunning objects made by indigenous peoples around the world, including Native Canadians. And you do feel wonder and serenity as you look on the work of nameless artists, creating beauty just because. It’s a well-designed museum, dense and well-organized, leading you around the world with lots of places to stop and rest beside television screens showing videos and in bigger rooms with documentary films. I will go back again, in wonder, which is easy, and serenity, much harder.
At one point, as we toured, we stopped in front of a Mayan statue of a small dog. “Looks like Brunie,” said Lynn, remembering my family dog of the Sixties.
“Or Wolf-fang Leroy,” I said, remembering hers. Moments like that, old friends going back more than forty years – how lucky we are.
The rain had stopped when we got out, so we decided to walk back home, diagonally across Paris. Half-way, we happened upon the Musée Rodin, another of the most wonderful museums of Paris, and tried to get in there too, but were just too late. All the shops are closed in Paris on Sunday, except small grocers, so we could gaze in windows as we passed, with no risk of being tempted inside. I like to walk looking up at the tall narrow 5 or 6 story buildings with their decorative ironwork, their art nouveau embellishments, the endless facades of yellowy-white stone. But you can’t look up too much in Paris, because the legendary dog droppings on the sidewalk are a constant danger. God forbid that a Parisian should stoop and scoop.
Bruce came over at 7 from his own free museum day, his second visit to the Louvre; we had a drink here with “saucissons aperitifs,” delicious bite-sized chunks of dried sausage, and then went to “Le Languedoc,” a restaurant only two blocks from here, where BK had his most French meal yet – escargots for l’entrée and then frog’s legs. We talked about work, life, love, choices, and, for some reason, food. We drank the house wine, a Gaillac.
When we left, we were full.
***************************************************
I forgot to tell you, in my account of our hot Saturday ramble, that everywhere we went that day, we encountered protests. There was a massive rally paralyzing Bastille, something about health care, but then on another city square, we met another loud protest about Libya, and then another about somewhere else in Africa – all with megaphones, ragged banners, costumes, music, flyers. Large demonstrations have to be cleared with the police beforehand, so you can Google demonstrations and see where there are going to be traffic problems.
Very efficient, even in protesting, les Francais.

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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

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Chris Walks
This blog evolves. It once was about travels. Now it’s a reason to be at the keyboard that I value.

Theresa Kishkan
Theresa Kishkan is a writer living on the Sechelt Peninsula on the west coast of Canada.

I walk on. With my feet, and in my mind as well.

Carrie Snyder
Wherever you’ve come from, wherever you’re going, consider this space a place for reflection and pause.

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