Paris Letters #78

Turner: Ulysses deriding Polyphemus

I started this blog last November with the intention of writing 108 small essays about Paris, or rather about the ‘invisible city’, which is Paris to me. My idea to was to write 500 word vignettes, polaroid photos, of Paris—to expunge a sense of violation, and to give something back to this place that has given me so much. However, when the immediate feeling of the terrorist attacks—which happened in my old neighbourhood—subsided, I lost interest in writing about Paris, and instead wrote mostly about other things.

Last November I felt I had to say something about Paris—now I forget what that was. The title ‘Paris letters’ therefore doesn’t fit—seems a bit pretentious—the story of Un Canadien errant, is less compelling to tell. And anyway, I only wanted to put on the Paris mask for short awhile.

What intrigues more is the idea of being a stranger—perhaps that been the real theme of this blog. One can be a stranger in a foreign land, or even in ones own country, or in ones own family. The deeper strangeness is that image we see in the mirror. What part is fiction, what part is mask, what part is real? And aren’t we all in a state of dislocation: isn’t everybody, a refugee, un stranger? Don’t we reject the foreigner to the extent that we have become foreign to ourselves? Don’t we draw our borders and lines, based on our panicked vertiginous feeling of being nowhere.

Anyway, any spiritual odysessy begins of course with the question: ‘Who am I?’. My larger interest is this: not in external events, circumstances, places — but in the many layers of this fathomless question. Of course ‘the answers’ are found not in the isolated self but in relationship, and in all the different layers of relationship, including ones relationship with oneself, the place where one lives, and the people that one lives among.

In any case, my origional inspiration for writing this blog was an act of violence, the voilation of a place, which I sometimes call home. The question of interest was the same one any child has: Why do we do violence to each other, to the fragile world, to our our intimate relationships? And how to untangle ourselves from mechanisms and dogmas of harm?

In any case, perhaps I will call my next blog: ‘Stranger writings’. If one is a stranger, one is always in a dynamic relationship, with a place—one never gets lost in any fixed identity. Home is not some fixed place. And furthermore, in stillness, at the writing table, one travels even more swiftly than by any mechanical bird, and to even stranger lands. The spirit is a bird: its home is in its inner migration pattern, and not any fixed place.

Some now, we shall say goodbye this this imaginary blog, and this imaginary city. Are we not all tourists here?

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