As I’m traveling to Paris with the Thalys, I thought I’d share this quote with you,
We all see our Paris as true, because it is. It is not an old or antiquated Paris that we love, but the persistent, modern material Paris, carrying on in time of postmodern immateriality, when everything seems about to dissolve into pixels. We love Paris not out of “nostalgia” but because we love the look of light on things, as opposed to the look of light from things, the world reduced to images radiating from screens. Paris was the site of the most because commonplace civilization there has ever been: cafes, brasseries, parks, lemons on trays, dappled light on bourgeois boulevards, department stores with skylights, and windows like doors everywhere you look. If it is not so much wounded – all civilizations are that, since history wounds us all – as chastened, and overloud in its own defense, it nonetheless goes on. The persistence of this civilization in the sideshow of postmodern culture is my subject, and the life it continues to have my consolation. I didn’t go on a bus in Paris without still expecting my balloon to be barred and the authority figure who oversees it is still a cardboard policeman in a cape. I see the moon these days from Paris because I once saw Paris from the moon.
This excerpt is from Adam Gopnik’s “Paris to the Moon” (2000), on pages 16-17.