Saturday, February 28, 2009

the word in Paris

French writer Daniel Pennac is currently reading Herman Melville's Bartleby, nightly, on a little side-street not far from the Paris Opera. it's billed as a theatre piece, and it sort of is--the audience sits in the theatre, Pennac is on stage, he is beautifully lit, there is a backdrop of sorts (an elegantly evocative sail-cloth, hung from the wings). but really, Pennac simply reads the story to us.

story-telling isn't exactly trendy, but when it's well-done, a sold-out theatre of people hang on every word. i think Melville would be contented by Pennac's rendition of his story, assuming he could understand the French. the translation is elegant and sparse and forced me to focus on the story, the choice of words.

these photos are from last week's flash mob. it's rare in Paris to have a gathering that isn't patrolled by the rather frightening security police, but this event, organized largely through blogs & cellphones, swam under the police radar.

at noon exactly on February 18th, people gathered to read aloud for 5 minutes at Place St-Michel--a traditional mob gathering place, not far from the medieval origins of the Sorbonne. the flash-mob was organzied as a protest against cuts to funding for arts education. we need a similar protest in Canada...

first, imagine a great crowd of people, each of them holding a book. a whistle blows, and for five minutes, each of these people becomes deeply immersed in that book, reading aloud. imagine the muttering, declaiming, murmuring sound...

1 comment:

Jennifer K Dick said...

Excellent photos here! It is too bad you won't be in Paris for this week's big strike day, going out and checking the scene with you then tea would be more fun. Instead, I am teaching, not on strike. Paris Misses you!