I still find each day too short for all the thoughts I want to think, all the walks I want to take, all the books I want to read and all the friends I want to see. ~John Burroughs
Today was a busy day! I was up around 7:30 and about in town by 8! We headed for Pere Lachaise first to visit some of more famous grave, including the grave of the great composer Chopin, and Jim Morrison. We also visited the graves of Oscar Wilde and Gertrude Stein, two writers whose work I enjoy. However, on wandering around to find these graves we discovered an entire section devoted to memorials of wars and of loss of life in general.
The Holocaust Memorials were the most memorable, all of them so painful to even look at, it made my blood run cold to realize just how much France lost in WWII, they still haven't full recovered from that lose of life and their psyche may never recover from having to see their own citizens deported and killed, from being taken over totally. Suddenly their safe havens, their homes, were not safe anymore. I cannot possibly imagine the terror and pain of living in a world where you are essentially held hostage by another country.
It's so obvious that France does not ever want to forget this. they have the unique perspective of being both invaders (when they acquired colonies for instance) and being invaded. They have seen both sides of the coin, and in general, I see the French as very resistant to war. They know firsthand what happens to the people who are caught in the battle, not even soldiers, but just civilians. The french are surprisingly proud of the fact that there was a resistance. there are actually plaques all over town marking 'Pierre Guillome died here fighting for freedom against the Germans' which is really amazing. I mean, there are hundreds of these plaques. The french want to remember that there wre those brave men who stood up and said 'No, this is wrong' and were willing to die to fight for freedom. These are the men France has come to stand behind, the fight for freedom within your own country.
I really loved seeing Oscar Wilde's grave too. It is apparently a tradition to kiss the grave, his grave stone is covered in lipstick and notes to him. It's really like no other grave site I've seen. He has made such an impact on both french and american writers that he will not be soon forgotten, as evident by the hundreds of kisses, some pretty recent, on the stone. Gertrude Stein's was also really interesting in that she and her partner, Alice, are buried together in the same plot it appears. Stein's name is on the front of the grave marker... and Alice's on the back. I thought it was a real testament to how liberal France was/is to allow the two women to be buried together, and also how close the two really were in life.
After that, we took off to the Clingnacourt flea market...and it was a BLAST! I went on a mini-shopping spree. I bought a few presents for people, and some clothes for me! I love the Paris fashion style, it's so free and colorful. I mean really, pretty much anything goes. it's a meld of cultures, worlds, and ideas into an explosion of every item of clothing. You can almost wear anything and get away with it here, or at least fit in. I know it's silly but I still get so excited when I am mistaken as french.... At one store, I actually went through the whole time without using english! He spoke to me in french, I responded in french and he never asked if I spoke english (even though I know he spoke english very well. he'd help a woman before me) and I understood him for the most part. it was just a really cool moment to be see as French... I felt like I got to dip a toe into the culture of France, a nice, brief embrace of the society.
That is one thing about France I love. They are very close. There is no real boundaries. there are so many inter racial couples, so many couples in general, and they are all over each other. They hold, they touch, they kiss. They are unconcerned with the world around them. Friends embrace and kiss the cheeks (they actually more go cheek to cheek and kiss the air). They are such a warm group of people... once they get to know you. It takes a long time to gain a french person's friendship, but once you have it, it is for life.
They're just such a unique group of people, so warm and cold at the same. But always very close, and very open. The french speak with their whole bodies, hands, faces, body, it's all moving and changing as they speak. They don't mind being shoved in with others in the metro (well, rather have gotten use to it) but they are always close. There isn't that personal space or seperation (emotional or physical) that seems so American. We're easy to make friends, but slow to open up. We have a lot of shallow friend ships the french would say. They think it is odd that we are so fast to call someone a friend.
After shopping and spending way too much money! we headed to the Louvre for one last look around. We explored the french sculpture section, which I found really enjoyable. It was full of pieces I didn't recognize, but I noticed a trenc of lions and Hermes through the section. These two images popped up all over the place.
After that we visited the oriental art section, and got to see Hammurabi's Code, which was way cool. Another of those things I've studied but never dreamed I'd actually see. As Wikipedia says: "The Code of Hammurabi (Codex Hammurabi), the best preserved ancient law code, was created ca. 1760 BC (middle chronology) in ancient Babylon. It was enacted by the sixth Babylonian king, Hammurabi. Earlier collections of laws include the codex of Ur-Nammu, king of Ur (ca. 2050 BC), the Codex ofEshnunna (ca. 1930 BC) and the codex of Lipit-Ishtar of Isin (ca. 1870 BC).
At the top of the basalt stele is a bas-relief image of a Babylonian god (either Marduk or Shamash), with the king of Babylon presenting himself to the god, with his right hand raised to his mouth as a mark of respect. The text covers the bottom portion with the laws written in cuneiform script. It contains a list of crimes and their various punishments, as well as settlements for common disputes and guidelines for citizens' conduct. The Code does not provide for an opportunity for explanation or justification, though it does imply one's right to present evidence. The stele was displayed for all to see; thus, no man could plead ignorance of the law as an excuse. However, in that era few people except scribes could read."
So it was really amazing to see something that ancient. Most of the art in this area was BC time and I was just so floored to see something so ancient. It was also a lot of things I was unfamiliar with, so it was really cool to learn more about this art (a lot of which was from the middle east). Very cool, and a great way to spend my time...
At the gift shop i finally bought a copy of Le Petit Prince, a famous novella written as a children's book by Antione St Expurcy and I am so excited to read it. Miss trent raved about it in high school and I have high hopes for it! Here's a summary for you all!
"Though ostensibly a children's book The Little Prince makes several profound and idealistic points about life and human nature. Saint Exupéry tells of meeting a young extraterrestrial (though entirely human-appearing and non-fictional) prince in the middle of the Sahara. In their conversations, the author reveals his own views about the follies of mankind and the simple truths that people seem to forget as they grow older. The essence of the book is contained in the famous line uttered by the fox to the Little Prince: "On ne voit bien qu'avec le cœur, l'essentiel est invisible pour les yeux." (One can't see well except with the heart, the essential is invisible to the eyes). There are also two other main points in the book, both spoken by the fox. They are: "You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed" and "It is the time you have spent with your rose that makes your rose so important."
Throughout the book, a child's view of the world, of the purpose of human life and of relations between people, (as represented by the Little Prince and partially by the narrator), is set off against the grown-ups' view (as revealed in memories of the narrator and in characters that the Little Prince meets on asteroids). But the author underscores that the "'grown-ups' are like that. One must not hold it against them. Children should always show great forbearance toward grown-up people."" Well... with that, I need to go study! Tomorrow is the last day of class...aka the day of finals!!Bon soir!