Thursday February 27
At breakfast, we (the three female artists in residence and I) discussed Freudian and Jungian theory. Each woman artist found Jung insightful. I have my doubts: I’m skeptical of theories that have little basis in data but seem to be fabrications of the theorists’ world view. Considering that Freud and Jung believed women were the lesser sex and lived in a world that supported that notion, how can I subscribe to their ideas?
My breakfast companions observed that many artists find Jung of value. I know Samuel Beckett who once lived around the corner at Rue d’Ulm found him useful in the writing of his novel Murphy. As Deirdre Bair, Beckett’s biographer explains,
The patient sinks into the unconscious altogether and becomes completely victimized by it. He is the victim of a new autonomous activity that does not start from his ego but starts from the dark sphere.
Beckett found a way to explore the protagonist’s, Murphy’s mind.
I posed the question why there wasn’t a woman analyst with the same recognition as Freud and Jung. Interesting as men were raised by women. How does that affect their theories and practices?
One of the artists mentioned the book, Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead by the Nobel Prize winner, Olga Tokarczuk. Her description excited me perhaps because the main character is a reclusive- a life that appeals to me. I wanted to read it immediately. The closest bookstore with English language books is Shakespeare and Company which I usually avoid as it’s a tourist trap. To get there I had to walk down Rue Galande a charming street once an old Roman road, then, inhabited in the 15th Century.
After I returned to the Irish Cultural Center, I got ready to go out again, this time, to the Bibliotheque Historique de la Ville de Paris located in the Marias. It has a beautiful reading room where I hoped to spend the afternoon writing. On my way out, one of the artists asked if I’d like to go to the kitchen and finish off the pastries from the night before. Mais oui!
While we were feasting, we met a filmmaker, Norah Dineen, who had been living on the third floor for over a month but never seen by any of us. She can no longer afford to stay and would be couch surfing until some monies “turned up” to finish her film. It’s subject is love in three cities: Berlin, Athens, and Los Angelos. Whenever, she makes a film, she lives in the country for a month, immersing herself before writing, casting, and filming. That’s the way to do it. I’m just getting settled and I have to leave. Why do I think I can just drop down in Paris and begin?
The rest of the afternoon was spent in libraries. At the Bibliotheque Historique de la Ville de Paris, I had to get a library card in order to use the facilities which entitled me to all the public libraries in Paris. Magnifique! However, the woman assisting me decided to go beyond issuing a card: she would help me with my research. What was I looking for? What names did I have? I was unprepared as we went from French to English to French. All very confusing. She assured me there was nothing there for me as she quickly went through databases, none of which I understood.
Reading Room Bibliotheque Historique de la Ville de Paris
Back to the mediatheque (a library with digital access) at the Irish Cultural Center. As my great grandfather was a physician, it might mean he had attended a medical school in Paris. I told the librarian I now had a library card and asked if there were records of 19th century medical students studying in Paris. He found that the National Archives did have such a list which could only be accessed at the Archives themselves. A plan for tomorrow. I moved on to my Irish side and took out Social Change and Everyday Life in Ireland, 1850-1922. It provided some interesting information on clothing, education, farming.
I ended the day with another writer from the center. We met for coffee at Numero 220 on Rue Saint Jacques. Her local. Delicious coffee and a friendly owner. She thinks someone should write a novel about women of a certain age- their struggle to be independent, that is, from familial demands. Saying no to requests poses problems.
Friday February 28
Several of the artists have come to the end of their residency, so we arranged for a farewell dinner Saturday night.
I needed a pair of jeans, and, on my way to the National Archives, went to Cos, a clothing store in the Marais. Success. Since it was Fashion Week, the narrow streets were crowded. Before people entered the shows, they were given an electronic temperature reading to exclude those who might have the coronavirus. Many Italians were there although there had been were rumors that a travel ban on trains from Italy might be forthcoming.
I saw a small elderly woman and her companion making their way towards me. I pushed myself against the building to give them room. As they passed, this “frail” woman elbowed me- hard. I turned towards her as she walked away, dumbfounded. Then she cursed me. I replied “Vous n’etes pas tres gentile Madame.” You are not very nice, Madame.
Rue des Rosiers
Although I had success buying a pair of jeans, my luck didn’t hold at the Archives. The receptionist informed me that I was at the wrong library. This library only had records from before the revolution, that is, before 1789. I asked if the correct library was open tomorrow, Saturday. Yes, she said but the request for records had to be put in before 3:00 P.M. today. It was 2:58. I had forgotten the rules which I had once known by heart when I used the Archives d’outre Mer in Aix en Provence. A bust.
But not completely. I got the best fallafel in Paris. No room at the inn, so I leaned against a building and chowed down. Delicieux.
L’As du Fallafel