This a.m. I was cutting grapefruit and listening to NPR's "Morning Edition." The show featured a lovely incisive and succinct report on when and why the city of Paris took on some of its characteristics as a city of light and romance.
The prompt for the story is the publication of How Paris Became Paris Joan DeJean's latest book about French culture and history. Joan DeJean is a Trustee Professor of Romance Languages at the U of Pennsylvania. She writes fascinating, insightful historical studies that give an entertaining and very readable account of some of the major themes in French civilization and culture. One of her previous works is The Essence of Style: How the French Invented High Fashion, Fine Food, Chic Cafes, Style, Sophistication, and Glamour. This morning's piece of journalism reminds us of how the pursuit of leisure and pleasure - loisir and plaisir - have molded aspects of society that we often take for granted or dismiss because they are the fun-side of life.
- Kevin Elstob
- In my interests below, I list French language, cinema, theatre, politics, art, and wine. And while French brought me to a lot of these things, I also like all of them in a more general way. I really love languages and their connections. I also have a thing about how theatre and cinema, art, politics and wine all hook up in some way. As I think of these ideas, I can hear the thwonk of the cork coming out of the neck of the bottle, and the gentle squeak as the cork is twisted off the tire-bouchon. Ah, that oakey, musty, acidic aroma wafting, wafting and people talking and talking and talking. And, oh they found out we have some sets of boules and they want to play pétanque. "Let's pick teams and play in the shade of those plane trees." The sounds of summer resonate: the crunch of the terrain under foot, the click of the iron bocce knocking in the players' hands, and the soft kiss of the wooden cochonnet as it hits the ground scuttling down to its resting point where it will await the arrival of each team's battle-worn aggies.