Too much to say from Paris

One of the commonest reasons a would-be writer sits paralyzed before a blinking computer screen or a blank sheet of paper, or the tribe's singer commands attention but is unable to speak, is that there is too much to say. Another reason might be that he is using an unfamiliar French keyboard where the letters are in unexpected places. But let's return to the first impediment. The keyboard doesn't stop me, it just makes everything painfully slow. And it's late here, so all I'll attempt tonight is a brief list of thoughts that this return to Paris brings to mind.

Some context: a tiny apartment in Montmartre (18è arrondissement), rented this week so I can be at the presentation of a book (Above Ground, where I have a story) this Thursday at the Village Voice Bookshop here. Susana and I arrived on Saturday, and so far we've experienced:
  • Palais de Tokio, the museum of contemporary art now showing "Dynasty", exhibition of 40 installations by upcoming (if they're lucky) young artists;
  • The headquarters of the Parti communiste français, a big and graceful building by Oscar Niemeyer, that can be my "hook" to talk about what has happened and what is happening with the Left in France;
  • The funiculaire up to the top of the Butte Montmartre, now supporting the huge and ugly Basilique du Sacre Coeur, but important to me for an earlier memory that the big church (with its around-the-clock prayer services) was meant to erase. That was where the revolt that sparked the Commune took place, 18 March 1871. The Paris Commune, a defining episode of the European and global Left--well, that's one of those topics on which there is too much to say: So far I've only made one small attempt, in a short story, but I'll come back to it again. And again it will be through fiction, to try to reach the sensation of such exuberant hopes and disappointment;
  • Musée du Quai Branly, vastly improved since our earlier visit--another topic I'll want to write about when I'm back to my familiar keyboard.
Geoffrey Fox introduces Above Ground
Le siège du Pcf d'Oscar Niemeyer
Butte Montmartre, 18 mars 1870