Sunday, 25 October 2015

Paris II: Me, Myself and Oscar

I think it would be fair to say that I love Oscar Wilde.

My second and final day in Paris began with a visit to Père Lachaise Cemetery. This was one place that he (I still can't say the phrase "my ex" at this point, so bear with me...) he & I agreed that we both wanted to go, to visit Oscar Wilde's grave.

I never expected that a trip to pay my respects to a historical stranger would end up being such an overwhelming and emotional experience. Well, at first I was obviously upset that I was going alone and wouldn't be sharing this with someone who understood my own connection to Wilde as well as having one of their own.


But then I was just hit by the importance of the moment, standing in front of this monument. The scale of Oscar's tomb is massive. It stands out as a huge chunk of stone amongst a hundred others, but I was drawn to this one. I found it almost without trying, I accidentally picked the right gate entrance, I walked just far enough, chose a turning at random and walked straight up to it.

The cemetery was empty except for 2 staff members mowing the grass. It was just me, myself and Oscar.


The plexiglass box around it, however, presents me with a philosophical dilemma, as a Wilde fan and a historical conservationist. I hate the glass box. The kisses softly laid for Oscar, every day of the week, make his memory so much more vivid. I can't help but think that he would have loved the constant row of petals at the base of his tomb. But I am also constantly aware of the fact that its an Epstein sculpture. Epstein whose work I studied and admired throughout my undergraduate. A piece of work that, if it were in a museum, would have a little velvet rope around its base.


All I wanted to do was reach out and touch it.

I paid my silent and distant respects, much like everyone else, then picked up my suitcase and went back to ticking things off my list. I obviously had to go to the Louvre.





There are some remarkable items and sights in the Louvre, that's for sure. I really enjoy this picture that I took, but I only had the opportunity to take it because I was stuck in a crush of people on a giant staircase. I've ended being really happy with this picture because I've somehow manage to shut out all of the noise and unpleasantness that was surrounding me at the time & capture this incredible calm image instead.


As I said in my last post, famous art galleries in the Summer are the worst because people don't actually look at the paintings. & here's a perfect representation of that. I would have loved to get close and actually see the Mona Lisa, but instead I just had to peer over people's shoulders and see it through their viewfinder.

& with that my time in Paris was pretty much over. It was time to hop on a train to Beauvais for my second air b'n'b experience before flying to Rome the next morning. I was originally concerned about my lack of time in Paris, but I managed to squeeze so much in that I made a good go of it. & really, I was very glad to be going to Beauvais as I was desperate to see the Cathedral (obviously).


Even as a student I loved the idea of Beauvais. I loved the idea that these people were so convinced that they could outshine all other Cathedrals in the world. I love that they took the spirit of the Gothic to the extreme. I love that they failed.


In their quest for decoration, verticality and light, they ended up with a beautiful but half-finished building that is held together by props and supports... and lightly sprinkled with rubble.












I just found it really amusing that this merry-go-round was plonked right in front of the Cathedral. I think it just struck me that the ride was clearly trying to show off about the fact it had a properly supported roof system.

But then that's just me.


My host Francis had recommended I go to see this little church of St Etienne, but unfortunately I was too late to get a look inside. I did, however, get a long and leisurely stroll around the outside. It was a pleasantly complete version of Gothic that the Cathedral hadn't quite seemed to manage.







& here's just a little bit of the Last Judgement to round of my blog post with a light bit of The End of Days.

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