My nineteenth etude: white melancholy, in which Roland Barthes figures, is situated in the Paris tenth quarter and just as in the books of Simenon and Patrick Modiano, the names of streets and café’s do form a poem in itself. The rue Bichat, café: Le coup de Torchon, the rue des Écluses Saint-Martin.
In the nomenclature of these routes and places the whole history, culture, geography, literature and fantasy world of France are captured. These names should not be translated, because they only exist in their own French linguistic existence. Translated they become flat and lifeless, cut off from their French native ground and presence: the first light of the morning in a street in Paris, the waking up of the city, the lives which throw themselves in the minefield of choices, again and again, each and every day, desires, fears and expectations. But also in their secret ecstasy, their tiredness and isolation. In that sense the names of streets and café’s become personages, just as people, spirited by their lust for life, excitement and death struggle, drowning in the whirlpool of the city, in search of times lost. A scene from earlier time, in that street, on that courtyard, that spot, for a moment the centre of the world, before disappearing in oblivion, just as we do.
But what did happen in the Rue Bichat? And what about the piano? And Roland Barthes? There’s just one way to find the answers: go to the Piano Etudes performance and wait till Etude 19 starts:
Behind Hotel du Nord, is the Rue Bichat that leads to the Hospital St Louis, where I had a student job as night porter in the late sixties for a few nights per week. I studied literary semiology at the Collège de France….
Everything written above I wrote last August, because of a lack of time these days in November now during the intense rehearsals, to already have some blogs at hand.
Today, reality has put rue Bichat in a different and painful kind of light because of the attacks in Paris last Friday, from which the first one took place in this street, in and outside restaurant Le Petit Cambodge, where two people died and seven got wounded.
Nous sommes Paris, we cannot put it a different way, we are Paris, where the apparent unsolved conflicts in the world on this thirteen of November are transformed in a battlefield, in which so many people lost their life’s through a shooting by brute force from totally deranged minds..
Is de rue Bichat in our etude 19 still being an innocent landscape and scenery of a dawning but finally lost love above a small piano factory, now she has become a marked place forever because of a world-wide conflict with victims we could have been all, on a café terrace, in a restaurant, Le Petit Cambodge, or a theatre, like Bataclan, in the Boulevard Voltaire, on the street, like in the rue Bichat. And we feel the pain of these sudden destroyed life’s with just dreams and desires like all of us. And then announcing from Paris that we are save….
illustration: Plan de Paris par arrondisement, Nomenclature des rues avec la station du métro la plus proche, Editions Laconte, Paris
photo: Leo Divendal, Canal St Martin, Paris 1979