Sunday, 27 March 2011

Savoir-vivre?

Ever since reading The Secret History, by Donna Tartt, I have been fascinated by the idea of having a bacchanalia, which is a celebration in honour of Bacchus. Now, Bacchus is the god of wine and revelry, but a bacchanalia as presented in the novel is not so much a giant party as an occasion that, with the help of wine and any other intoxicants that might be useful, can lead one to a proper loss of self. It tended to involve things like bonfires, animal sacrifice, flaming torches, and insane amount of wine and hallucinations. Now, Isabelle and I had plans to run around Kenilworth Common in white bedsheets before sacrificing a goat on a bonfire, but we never got round to it, what with exams and all. But I'm making up for it here, Paris has been full of bacchanals.

We're not fitting in well with the locals.

The logical explanation is that the reserve of British culture leads us to seek in the liminal states such as that induced by binge drinking, the self-expression and loss of reserve necessary for psychological balance. When in that state of course, it never seems that prosaic. It seems like a totally normal way of viewing the world through oil pastels rather than watercolours. It's ironic it's all happening in Paris, a city whose inhabitants are renowned for their reserve and moderation. Well, in most cases. I am so used to the Puritan ideal of pleasure as something that must always be paid for (wine/hangover, chocolate/exercise/, a shopping trip/a few days of frugality) with an activity linked to guilt, it's unreal. It is no coincidence that the French use the word plaisir approximately fifteen times more than the English use pleasure, and that profiter de has nothing to do with money (and is also used constantly). Christ, I'm starting to sound like Elizabeth Gilbert (not a good thing). I wonder what I'll occupy my brain with when I'm back in Britain and no longer have Interesting Cultural Differences to dwell on.

So. I've been meaning to write for a while about specific events, but didn't get round to it. Generally I prefer that each entry should be focused on one event or place, as this isn't some kind of journal that I need to "fill in" on a daily basis regardless of what I've been up to. It's just snapshots Usually I just take a lot of photos all the time, then look back over them when I feel like writing a blog entry and post the most interesting ones, so here goes.






















Tiffany and I took an unintentional daytrip to the banlieue, which was rather pointless but I did score the above photos as we sat by a stream, in a field, a half-mile from the indifferent apartment blocks and grimy supermarket complexes of Roissy-sur-Brie. I have no idea where why went there, but it was a nice day nonetheless.

I saw Black Swan twice.

It was Mardi Gras and we briefly joined in with the parade before finding a place that did 2.50 Kirs.


American, Brit, American, Brit, Brit, American/Brit.


A few weeks ago, a night of blossom and Bach.

Street art in the Butte aux Cailles, now that the evenings are light almost until the end of Happy Hour, this is an excellent place for an after-babysitting drink or two.

And then I went back to London for the weekend! It was my birthday party of (one of) my best friend(s) and a chance to see my family as well. London actually seemed cheap after Paris, although I've completely lost any sense of how much money it's normal to spend on a cup of tea and some cake/ a night out. At the party, we had delicious food and drink at someone else's expense, lots of people from university were there. A few people made speeches in her honour, if I had been brave enough I simply would have said "I've travelled over a hundred miles for this girl's birthday party because I have never met anyone who makes me laugh so much". Apart from the hundred miles bit, I'm sure I wouldn't have been the only person in the room to think that. What can I say? I love my friends. I was reminded of the infuriating, fascinating, hilarious, supportive, transient community I was a part of for my first two years at Warwick. Home is where my friends are, and they keep getting more and more displaced. I'm lucky in that I haven't been too homesick while in Paris, but seeing so many of them was a huge rush of nostalgia, lovely and sad. 

And next morning, a walk in the woods with Mum & Bethany. My sister loves photography too! Although  for her, it's not the apotheosis of her extremely limited creative skills as it is with me, she's actually an artist. 

My shadow over crocuses, in a field near to my family's house/home.




I have a friend who lives near the Eiffel tower, I was a bit early for a soirΓ©e (ha!) at hers last week so I wandered around and attempted an interesting take on the tower, along with hundreds of other tourists. It reminds me of the best photo I've ever taken, that one was greyscale with a flash of yellow as well. While I was there, I overheard one American guy saying loudly to his friends "Oh my God, doesn't it make you want to waterslide down it?!" to which my answer would be - NO OF COURSE NOT YOU FUCKING IDIOT. Ahem.

Last of all, my friend Dhruvni came to stay with me for a week. The weather was sunny all week, and we had fun. To commemorate her stay, here is a picture of her sitting on the butte (hill) of the Parc de Buttes Chaumont, enjoying her new favourite vice. Because if there's one thing cooler than smoking, it's smoking two cigarettes at once!



She left yesterday, leaving behind only wilted roses, baked beans and a vague haze of Vogue Menthols. Ma vie est pleine de bonnes choses, j'ai de la chance. 


2 comments:

  1. What to say, firstly it would be nice to live in a world this dreamy :)but alas I am a finalist. I did eat a dodgy "space" muffin whilst in Amsterdam though which was definitely a dreamy experience that would be in keeping with a bacchanalia methinks.

    Liked your observations on our view of pleasure as something that always has a price. Never thought about it much before but I completely agree, to the point where one has to justify enjoying oneself or make excuses.

    I'm not sure about the your psychological explanation of binge drinking though,among the young I always saw it as engaging in something that was once forbidden. Yet I guess your argument could be supported by the observation that with binge drinking among young people at least it doesn't seem like pleasure is taken in the actual drinking, more it is about producing the desired effect whilst drinking the nastiest, cheapest vodka that tesco's can offer... how depressing. Where's the appreciation, the pleasure in a nice glass of wine? :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Great blog! Good to hear what you have been doing and it's really interesting to read about the differences between the two cultures. Personnally I have no guilt enjoying a good glass of wine or two.
    Laska x

    ReplyDelete