Updates, Live

Monday, July 17, 2006

Edouard Boubat, A la terrasse des Deux-Magots

Edouard Boubat, A la terrasse des Deux-Magots

It is the wide piece of sidewalk whereon stand the red marble-topped tables, the wicker chairs, and the old waiters of the Cafe des Deux-Magots. From it you can look undisturbed at the chalk-colored walls and the tower of St.-Germain-des-Pres... Nuns with white butterfly hats come out of the church...
This corner I love best of all in Paris, and here I sat down in peace.
Ludwig Bemelmans, My English Suit in Paris

Cafe des Deux-Magots, St. Germain-des-Pres, the two opposite dimensions of the French spirit. Le Moyen Age against Les Lumieres. The Romanic abbey, severe, perfect in its austerity - In the Beginning was the Word - there is no God but God - and God is in stillness - look for the silence to hear the Word. La France de Saint Louis. And across, les Deux-Magots, le rendez-vous des philosophes.

I was there one evening, with Mike, he was the sound engineer for Family Secret, some scenes of the movie were shot in Paris, and we were there for a week. There was a large bookstore, La Hune, sandwiched between Les Deux-Magots and Cafe de Flore, upstairs was a huge selection of art and architecture books. Mike was passionated about art books, and he was looking for a gift for his fiancée - she had graduated an art college in Italy, and was working in the domain.

I visited them once in New York, they were renting a very narrow apartment somewhere in Brooklyn - then I received in Bucharest photos from their wedding. They moved meanwhile to Los Angeles, he's now a sound engineer at Hollywood.

Mike made his choice at La Hune, a book about Ozu. I would discover him later, by seeing the movies of Hou Hsiao-Hsien. By that time I didn't know anything about Ozu (about Hou neither). It was 1999, and Cafe Silence, the movie made by Hou a la maniere de Yasujiro Ozu, would come in 2005.

Two days later Mike and I discovered in the cemetery of Montmartre the grave of Man Ray. Mike was telling me about Kiki, the great love of Man Ray, and about the photos he had made, the Tears of Kiki, like pearls, or the Violon d'Ingres. The stone on his grave had as inscription, Unconcerned but not Indifferent.

Ozu was exactly 60 years old the day he died. His friends came to the hospital to celebrate with him his birthday, he was just passed away. On his grave there is only one hieroglyph, NU, it means nothingness, nowhere - we come from the country of nowhere, we go back to the country of nowhere. Allan Granville, the beat poet, said once, I found holiness in the country of nowhere.

We went on other day to a small cafe, that I forgot the name. A strange impression, it was like some verses of Eugene Guillevic were floating in the air - I would give you here a Romanian version, as this one is now coming to my mind,

Si am vazut atunci o umbra,
Era poate cea mai veche dintre obisnuitii cafenelei,
Si se lasa plimbata de soare, pe un crestet, apoi pe mana mea,
Si cand s-a inserat s-a retras, discreta.

I have in my apartment in Bucharest a lithograph, showing that cafe. It is a gift from Mike, as a remembrance of the great time we had that week in Paris.



Post a Comment

<< Home