The thing about Paris at this time of year is the light.
Glorious. Irridescent. Variegated. Like neopolitan ice cream melting on top of an oven-baked berry pie.
The light. It is really worth the price of admission. Which is to say: the plane fare, the bus fees, the hotel bill, the food receipts. The irritable, irrascible French folk. Add all of them together and you still would be getting a bargain. Considering that what you are getting in exchange for all that trouble is the light.
At this time of year, it stays light until well into the late evening. 8 p.m. Nine. Ten . . . arrive, as I did, at a time when you might be thinking about sleep, elsewhere, and wind up thinking that you can’t possibly take to bed; it is so bright it must be mid-afternoon.
The splash of color exerting an undeniable effect . . .
Ornaments glisten in that light.
The Louvre shimmers in that light.
People shine in the brilliant caress of that light.
Monuments near and far bathe in the glow of that light . . .
In Paris . . . mid-morning light . . .
. . . differs from afternoon light . . .
. . . which differs still from early-evening light . . .
In Paris, light comes in all sorts of flavors and tempos and styles.
In Paris there are different shades of sunset . . .
And after that sun sets, the lights of the Seine look something like this:
It is more than light, of course. As with just about everything in life—from the most fundamental atomic unit up—what makes that aspect under study so special, so much “itself”, is its coupling with its antithesis. Without its opposite, it simply can’t “be”.
The inverse refracting, modifying, ultimately defining the thing, itself. And thus is it that without shadow, absent contrast, light carries less meaning; it communicates less truth.
In Paris it is the combination of light and shadow, the counter-play, the agitation and juxtaposition of difference that rises up and declares “life”. Well, anywhere, in fact. But what is special about Paris is that the place reminds us immediately, jarringly, unequivocally, of this verite, So strongly . . .
because of something as simple, as fundamental, as elemental and ubiquitous . . . as its light.
The light, Alive . . . it is. Here in Paris.
In Paris, And elsewhere. Long live light.
// Notes from the Road
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