1 The constraints: 1) No more than
one hour. 2) No more than 20 lines.
The result ? Genius or Not.

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02.05.11

By Cassandra Moss | 2011 May 02

I hate maps. Attempting to read them feels like liquid metal seeping into my blood: the start of a mechanical takeover. I understand, within this context, why some people cannot stand formalism, as the coloured lines and blocks do seem to be to the detriment of experience. So, I dispense with structure and, consequently, spend a lot of my time getting and being lost. I entered Père Lachaise in this manner, wanting to see Proust's grave. Those feelings of awe, humility and absurdity that always surface in cemeteries made me think of the line 'They were born and then they lived and then they died'. By Sarah Bernhardt I was accosted by a middle-aged man and his grown-up daughter who insisted on asking me in French about the Royal Wedding, saying it must've been a great day to be British. His whole manner was pre-set to respond to the one and only answer he could comprehend. When the incomprehensible came towards him he blinked in rapid succession, preferring, I think, to believe that the language barrier was accountable for his expectations not being fulfilled. Spoken language providing the obliteration of opposites, the thought that no one who sounds the same as you could be that unreasonable or radically different. Near to Oscar Wilde an elderly American couple were demonstratively disagreeing about which way to exit. Looking at all the conjugal graves they seemed so reductive: two names placed together in eternal solidarity; arguments, pleasures, indiscretions and regrets – the complexity of a shared life somehow nullified. Swann and Odette, the narrator and Albertine, Charlus and Morel: romantic love, desirable and unbearable. I'd been walking around for ages, hoping I'd stumble upon the grave I came for. It started to rain so I asked a few people for directions, most of whom didn't seem to have even heard of Proust. When the narrator of In Search of Lost Time is struck by memory and realises that all the time he thought he had wasted is sensation and experience he can write about, he regains his faith in art because through it he'll be able to transcend his mortality. His subjectivity will never be lost. The tomb, when I found it, was just a tomb. It said nothing to me. I felt ridiculous for having spent three hours looking for it. Stone doesn't speak to us; it doesn't elucidate any mysteries. I took a picture and left. Across the streets and through the buildings a pre-war Paris of salons and society people carry on, unaware they've died and been replaced. In a room a young woman sits alone, waiting for her captor to return. A Baron sneaks into a brothel for his sadomasochistic pleasures. Wrapped in the reflections and expansions of time the past and the person are transferable texts that retell themselves in separate languages of sensation, things that are lost and found over and over by another consciousness's present .

Time, Directions, Proust

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