travel journal 2010 part 1

I’m doing this from memory since the world file originally containing these entries was corrupted.

Paris, France
Jour 1

Today, we saw the Notre Dame. I had heard of it before, seen it in pictures, even seen it once when I was much younger. But, the size of it did not have less of an impact on me. What dawned on me was what this all meant. Art is only achieved when what is done has gone beyond the normal means, when the creative child is a product of an almost religious dedication. I guess it has also to do with the culture of religion, to be close to God and to create something much greater than man.

Jour 2
We visited Musee D’Orsay today. The one that struck me most was not the Impressionists beautiful air plein paintings. Rather, I was struck by Van Gogh’s self portrait. It was everything from the overall feeling the painting gave to the uniquely drawn parts. The background is drawn in Van Gogh’s signature swirly texture and the colors of his clothes are presented in a similar swiveling brush stroke. But, his face is drawn in sort of a realism style, prominently showing the creases around his eyes and eyebrows. Facing the painting, you don’t know where he’s looking at. I covered his eyes one at a time. His right eye seems to be looking forward while his left eye seems to be looking to his left side. I can’t tell whether he’s dazed or looking ahead. My one interpretation is that he sees the world as swirly and chaotic, seen by the
background and even how his jacket is painted. He sees himself as the true force in the universe of art, as the only thing tangible and real in the world.

Jour 3
In the past few days, we’ve been bumping into Parisien pride, where we have been refused admission into historic buildings because of missing the latest admission time by five minutes. I finally understood what it means to be Parisiene when we drove down Avenue Champ-Elysees under a setting sun. Avenue Champ-Elysees starts from the Louvre and then cuts through a park lined on both sides by tall, grand trees. On the horizon, beyond the sea of cars you can see Arc de Triomphe rising above all else glowing gold. This is the boulevard which French soldiers have marched down for centuries, including Napoleon, including the French army at the end of WWII. As it looms high above you, its grandeur is intensified by the miniscule people under it. You only need to go around once the roundabout to be baffled by its majesty, its size. This is what it means to be Parisien, to live in the shadow of the Arc de Triomphe, under all its represented greatness.

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