April 9 Paris
After several days of sun, the rain and the cold were back. I decided to return to Rue Daguerre.
On my way, I stopped at the Cimetiere Montparnasse: at least, I could find Agnes’ husband Jacques Demy, the director of The Umbrellas of Cherbourg. He rests in a serene site in Division 9 protected by a small tree.
Once the rain started up again, I made my way to Rue Daguerre and found a cafe that offered sanctuary, a view of the street, and is, seemingly, a hang out for locals- a man seated at the bar was reading a newspaper.
I drank my coffee and watched the street, but reckoned my vigilance would not be rewarded. Why would a 90 year old women come out at noon to walk in the rain? Why had I?
Nevertheless, I persisted and walked up and down the street but no discoveries. I did see two Vietnamese restaurants- a link to Marguerite Duras. Making connections between disparate ideas, people, even places that have no relationship can be a symptom of pyschosis. The troubled mind may be trying to make sense of a chaotic world, to find meaning as I am.
That evening at the Irish College, Declan Long presented his book, Ghost-Haunted Land which looks at the art of Northern Ireland since the troubles. My neurons bounced against each other in a explosion of ideas and feelings.
The art opened up deep reservoirs of empathy for the suffering that took place. A photo of Bernadette Devlin haunts me. During the discussion afterwards, despair over our inhumanity surfaced. One artist who had gone to art school during the troubles spoke of a tutor questioning why people were wearing black arm bands. Dismayed at his insularity, she explained that they honored the men who had died in the hunger strikes.
Still of Bernadette Devlin by Dublin Artist, Duncan Campbell
At first, I thought America should have such an art show, one that would help us embrace the other whether a Trump supporter, a person of color, a white person, an immigrant. But the country is so vast. Who would be affected? Anyone? The discussion also touched on whether someone who isn’t from Northern Ireland can really produce art that authentically represents the situation. It reminded of whites coopting Black art, their language, their music.
Two words bedevile me: authenticity and relevancy. What the hell am I doing? And who cares? These questions circulate frequently. I try to remember this is an experiment, a possibility, an opening, a making, perhaps, as I follow these women, follow my younger self, live again in Paris.