Sunday, October 19, 2014

Les femmes aux chapelles de l’art: then and now

During the months I lived in Paris, back in the mid-late ‘60s, among of the cultural oddities that struck me  were signs on the gates of a couple of the most prestigious museums, denying entry to women (and  à l’époque, it would only have been women;  back then, people seemed to know what sex they were) tricked out in stiletto heels.   The floors were of rare and expensive wood, and would otherwise be permanently damaged.   It was impressive that these palaces of high art could be so bold as to do that,  since a stiletto-heeled woman is likely to be both self-involved and on a short fuse;  the confrontations cannot have been pleasant.


In the top of today’s Paris news, was an incident at the opera, in which a rich couple visiting from the Gulf, seated in the costly first row, was perceived to be wearing, not only the traditional Islamic gown and head-covering (which are legal in France) but a veil (which, by recent law, is not).   During the first act, a number of performers noticed this, and complained to their manager, the chorus even going so far as to refuse to sing in Act II, unless the law was enforced.    To the surprise and (in some quarters) delight of many Frenchmen, this was actually done:   the offender was given the alternative of obeying local law or departing;  she chose to depart.

All this caused an uproar, which reached all the way to the Minister of Culture, who issued new guidelines.

Travaillant au noir,
le détective  se trouve aux prises
avec le Saint-Esprit


Mais… Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose (as someone once said -- I forget).
Just now, re-reading Proust, (A l’ombre des jeunes filles en fleurs, 1919), I happened upon this passage, 
as Marcel, long having dreamt of attending a performance of La Berma, now at last it on the threshold of doing so, as he stares at l’affiche outside the theatre:

je ne fis qu’un bond  jusqu’à la maison,
cinglé que j’étais  par ces mots  magiques
qui avaient remplacé  dans ma pensée
   “paleur janséniste”
  “mythe solaire” :
 Les dames ne seront pas reçues à l’orchestre en chapeau;
les portes seront permées à deux heures …”

[NDLR:  “Found poetry”, c’est le pendant linguistique de l” objet trouvé”. 
Pour d’autres exemples -- en anglais, en français, et en allemand -- cliquez ici.]

Pour nos essais
en langue
la plus châtiée qui soit,
checkez-out   …..

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