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Dear Diary (Paris Octobre)

October 6, 2019

Chère Diary – In Paris for the month (2 pleasant appartements in the 20th near Parc de Belleville and Buttes Chaumont) with the author and his friend, the painter TF (whose francais est fluent voilà—moi, je still struggle, but less so). (Author posting pics on Fcbk.) Excellent bustling workerfolk neighborhood with lots of bookstores and local cafés, the way Seattle used to be, before Amazon and Starbucks. Very friendly shopkeepers and all. The variety of people feels like home, in Columbia City/Hillman City. And in Octobre, pas trop touristico. But of course the greater population density in this quartier, in addition to the density in season, provides clientele to support beaucoup de plus small businesses. And the winding streets feel more natural and comfortable than does an American grid. CC/HC has some of that, because of the hills, plus more trees, and more small front yards of flower gardens. One advantage for trees that want to be picturesque, in Paris, is that they are set off by the grays of the stone facades of the taller apartment buildings seen through their branches.

10-8 Two enjoyable experiences of French persons (in store and in restaurant) enjoying talking about their language.

Saw a knockout exposition of Degas drawings, oils, and pastels of opera and ballet. Brilliant, explorative artistry. But thematically very distressing. Tableau after tableau of the culture of Male predation and domination. Gesture after gesture of women and girls living in such a culture. The show began with the early painting of Spartan youths, standing in gendered groups, one girl stretching out her arm and hand to the boys. That gesture was repeated throughout the theatre, night after night, show after show, exactly or in modification or substitution. We might imagine this exposition as it would Have been painted in an FDC (Female Dominant Culture) instead of our PMDC (Predatory Male Dominant Cult), or a culture that was nonhierarchical, gender neutral, such as Larks!!

10-12 Met our host at our apartment for the second two weeks. At 78 she can’t participate in a scheduled manifestation at the Place de la République at which the police are likely to be violent, because she recently hurt her shoulder. She’s active in the movement against the 6th extinction, and in support of other causes. In the early ’60s she and her husband lived in Algeria and he refused to fight against Algerian independence, so he was banned from returning to France. They met Che in Algeria, and in ‘65 they moved to Cuba. Etc. Wonderful conversation. Meeting her was a great pleasure.

10-14 Continue to experience the courtesy of Parisiens towards old folks, especially on the metro.

10-20 One thing that makes life in Paris delightful is the small pleasures, such as buying a baguette on the way home, right out of the oven, and eating half of it, chunk by chunk, while walking the last few blocks to your door.

10-24 Train to Chartres. Experienced again how good it is to have trains. Hour and a half presentation by guide, focused on several of the stained glass windows. Then lunch followed by many more hours in the cathedral. The day was partly cloudy, with moving clouds; and of course from morning to evening the church moved around the sun, and the light waned into near darkness. The result was that I had an excellent experience that I’ve never had before, but which I suppose Medieval people had often. I saw the changing of the windows, the changing of their colors, with the changing of the light. Glorious. Magical. Like watching an artist painting being.

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