Thursday, 2 April 2009
One day in Paris, I forget which one, walking back through the town that afternoon took longer than imagined. I detoured via buildings that I should have seen regardless, those imperatives of city-tourism. So it was that I walked down the Champs-Elysees, taking in the Grand Palais, L'Arc de Triomphe, and the Jardin des Tuileries in some order unremembered. Cultural markers, indicators of a national or regional identity that stands out in this era, where monoculturalism is an exception and a globalised outlook is the foundation from which reductions towards identity are made, identities that are themselves reversals. So it happens that these places, their plaques and rope fences, look backwards at themselves and tell more of now than then. Can it be that a national monument is a conceit that is incapable of apprehending the city in which it stands?