Coming Soon:

The following books by Robert Paul Wolff are available on Amazon.com as e-books: KANT'S THEORY OF MENTAL ACTIVITY, THE AUTONOMY OF REASON, UNDERSTANDING MARX, UNDERSTANDING RAWLS, THE POVERTY OF LIBERALISM, A LIFE IN THE ACADEMY, MONEYBAGS MUST BE SO LUCKY, AN INTRODUCTION TO THE USE OF FORMAL METHODS IN POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY.
Now Available: Volumes I, II, III, and IV of the Collected Published and Unpublished Papers.

NOW AVAILABLE ON YOUTUBE: LECTURES ON KANT'S CRITIQUE OF PURE REASON. To view the lectures, go to YouTube and search for "Robert Paul Wolff Kant." There they will be.

To contact me about organizing, email me at rpwolff750@gmail.com




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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

PARIS EPHEMERA

One of the truly remarkable features of Google maps is that if you zoom in to the maximum, the map switches to a picture of the street or house you are searching for.  In some cases, there is even a line down the middle of the street that you can follow with the wheel on your mouse, producing a moving picture of an entire neighborhood.  If you Google the address of our Paris apartment, 17 rue Maitre Albert, you eventually get a picture of the street, and on that street is a little man with a mustache, wearing a cap, walking along the street.  That little man is a local whom I see almost every day.  We have now progressed to the point that when we meet, we shake hands, and ritually ask, “Ca va bien?”  If Susie is there, he doffs his cap and inquires after “Madame.”  I know nothing about him beyond that, and my conversational French could not support a real chat, even if he had a mind to it.  The waitress in the local cafĂ© greets us with handshakes, and the proprietor of the notions shop, “Bazaar des Ecoles,” recognizes us when we come in for a battery or a coffee pot gasket or even, on one occasion, a new rolling suitcase. Being greeted this way makes me feel that I am truly a resident of this quartier.

Having circumnavigated the fifth arrondissement on one of my morning walks, I tried a new route, along the quais, up to Place de la Bastille, then west past Place des Voges along rue des Franc Bourgeois, which is the boundary between the fourth and the third arrondissements, past la musee de Pompidou, to Boulevard de Sebastopol, which is the continuation north of the Seine of Boulevard St. Michel, and home past Notre Dame.  The fourth being smaller than the fifth, this circumnavigation of the fourth is a shorter walk, but it was fun to see an entirely different part of old Paris.

Under the reign of Louis Napoleon [see Marx’s great tract, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Napoleon] and with the direction of Baron Haussmann, Paris was totally reconfigured.  One of the many changes was the creation of a pair of intersecting streets, one running east-west, the other north-south, to facilitate getting around in Paris.  What we now know as rue de Rivoli did not exist.  A mare’s nest of tiny streets and buildings interrupted east-west traffic.  Haussmann tore down buildings and pushed aside neighborhoods to create a thoroughfare along which carriages could drive.  The north-south axis became Boulevard St. Michel on the left bank and Boulevard de Sebastopol, then Boulevard de Strasbourg, on the right bank.  Boulevard St. Germain, which now runs from the point across the river from Place de la Concorde through our own Place Maubert to the Institut du Monde Arabe, did not exist either.  As I write these words, I sit under a framed map of Paris, dated 1789.  Our little street, Maitre Albert, is identifiable by its distinctive hooked shape, but it was then called “rue Perdu”  [the lost street.]

Try as I do, I cannot muster the same sentiment for our planned community in Chapel Hill.

3 comments:

Adam said...

Why do you not stay at your Paris apartment all year round?

David Auerbach said...

You should head east of the Bastille and find a lot of streets with pre-Haussmann buildings; the old furniture makers' workshops were (and to some extent are) there; a brave push through large doorways into courtyards still festooned with exterior wooden staircases gives one a feel for the pre-Haussmann.

Robert Paul Wolff said...

David, your comments on my Paris bloggin makes it clear that you know Paris much better than I. Thanks for the suggestion. If I have time before we go home Christmas Eve, I will walk up to Place de la Bastille and then roam around east of there.

Adam, 330 sq ft is a little small for a year round stay, and my Bennett gig is still taking a good deal of my time. But don't think I haven't thought about it!