The False as failure, asynchrony, unfulfilment. Will and action. Is it possible to reach at least a partial truth through a misconception? Paradoxically, if your mind and senses are open to what is around you, failure can be the way you reach the truth, even though it was not the truth for which you were originally seeking.
«Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.»
Like the first Mrs. De Winter walking back into a dream, through the gates and into the drive of the old house, I watched as we locked the solid red wood door behind us and walked along the narrow passage and out into the small enclosed back yard. On one side were parked motorbikes, water filled plastic bowls, flowerpots and clothes hanging out to dry. On the other were wrought iron railings and behind them endless open windows rising way up high. Above us, in the blue rectangle of the sky we could see grey clouds. We were leaving through the back door of Jamal’s house, a large comfortable ‘maison de maître’ in the centre of Paris. It’s nine thirty A.M. and the raw bright sun lit up the way too successful architecture of the buildings surrounding us casting dark shadows upon the wide boulevards. A cold breeze found its way to my back between my collar and scarf. This was like winter in Portugal and cold shivers went down my back. It is a painful reminder that I have not packed enough suitable clothes for this trip. We began our walk relying on a hopelessly inadequate map, really it was just a tatty piece of paper with the streets roughly illustrated on it. Our attempts to understand it were even more laughable and in the end we just give up on it. This meant that the expedition was doubled in length but also doubled in experience. It was probably just as well at that moment that we didn’t know we were at least three hours away from the place we wanted to see, the BNF, the Bibliothèque national de France. The French National Library is actually an archive housed in five different buildings around the city. These are the Rez du Jardin F.M. Library, the Arsenal Library, the Open House Library, the Maison Jean Vilar Avignon and the Richelieu Library.
This would have been a short story about two young men visiting the place where Walter Benjamin walked and studied, his favorite place in the whole Paris. They wanted to encounter, in those corridors and labyrinths of reflection, an aura of a master that could change their views about life and art, that could enrich their own understanding.
Rue Cardinet, Rue de Courcelles, Pont des Invalides, Boulevard Saint Germain, Fondation Cartier... «..., at the time I could no more believe my eyes than I can now trust my memory.» (Boulevard du Montparnasse, Avenue des Gobelins, Rue de Croulebarbe, Place d'Italie, Boulevard Vincent Auriol, Avenue de Choisy, Rue Nationale, Rue Jeanne d’Arc, Rue Thomas Mann, 45 Quai François Mauriac) BNF.FM Cedex13
Keeping a straight line can be challenging. Where does it come from, that tendency to walk around in circles when you are lost? I remembered reading about a study made in 2009, by Jan Souman and a team of researchers, which looked at the human sense of direction. They wanted to answer the simple question, «Why cant we walk straight?». It seems that it’s not due to a physical failure or some bodily misalignment but from the tendency of our senses themselves to mislead us into asynchrony. As is so often the case, knowing the cause doesn’t necessarily lead to a solution, and so like watcher walking down the track in the woods, we wandered on!
After three long hours we eventually reached our destination. What we found was an amazing, an incredible overwhelming building certainly, but definitely not the one we were looking for! Instead, we were standing in front of the glittering glass towers at Rez du Jardin F.M. Library. Therefore, not the historical BNF Richelieu we so much wished for and that Alain Resnais contemplates in Toute la mémoire du monde (1956).
Sometimes we feel we need to free ourselves from the tyranny of what is yet to be clarified, from what we feel compelled to. We need to be released from the disappointment of seeing the inadequacy of our writing on the page, of our drawing and painting, and the things we focus action upon. We contemplate unhappily the substances we are manipulating and feel we can´t live a day working at the studio. The sooner these compulsions are left behind, the faster I will be free and happy. Raise your glasses and celebrate with me the ending of these ways, these entrapping mechanisms. Farewell to the oils, the crayons, the duct tape, the plastics, the graphite, the incomprehensible readings. As I walk down my own private labyrinths this feeling presents itself closer to an illusion. In this whole text some things might seem to be missing but that’s just the way it is. Some gaps are kept at the writers own circle, sometimes even from himself.
«No poem is intended for the reader, no picture for the beholder, no symphony for the listener.»
In the new library, the library we actually came to, we found a temple to knowledge old and new, and the triumph of human endeavor that WB certainly would choose as well to hid his works from the Nazi. We found a showcase for French culture and civilization that spoke of confidence in the value of knowledge and confidence in the future.
I wanted to write about journey and search. I wanted to write about the power of, through encounter, imbue by atmosphere. I wanted to believe that, on those unreached corridors, there could be something able to redeem myself, carry me back to a state that had been part of me, something real and intellectual.