notes from an urban hibernation

Paris : Simon Cutts & Erica Van Horn

A Grid to the City

Back to the city, and always astounded by its wonderful contained-ness. I can work at the desk in the morning and then walk out and drift home throughout the afternoon. I feel that I am held in by the city in a inclusive way, and in this there is some comfort. In our earlier days, we could cross it in such an afternoon.

We must all find our map for a city, the grid we impose to make it understandable to ourselves, a way of dealing with the randomness and chaos of interaction and synchronicity.

For instance I remember running and walking in New York using a sort of I Ching imposition : at WALK /DONT WALK signs I would follow the instruction and go left or right. What was curious about it was that I almost inevitably formed a circle after an hour’s near random navigation. I never understood it.   Paris by contrast is more classic.  Whatever you impose on it, it will somehow hold its randomness. In its simplest form, from the structure of the snail-spiral of the numbered arrondisements leading to the centre, almost a sort of Fibonacci system, to more analogical impositions and schemes. We had our own linear, rather straightforward, formation of the Porte Walks, travelling out to the edge of the city by bus or metro, and walking back to the centre. To date, we have done 31 of the 39 of these identified entries to the city.

In Le Pont du Nord, that extraordinary film of Jacques Rivette, Marie and Baptiste plot out the city using an overlay of Goose Game for children. By the rolling of dice, they begin their chance journey through the city, by its rules and talismanic sites.

I suppose this is a slightly more homely version of the Situationist derive, the continuous drift through parts known and unknown . You would hope that it might be even more delirious than a merely personal psychogeography. Paris is still the headquarters of a kind of wanderingness. We  have to do it to remain sane and believe in possiblities, and leave the so-called real world behind.                                                                                                                 SC



One comment on “A Grid to the City

  1. dm
    January 30, 2018

    Dear Simon, this map of Paris looks like a sort of Gidouille, isn’t it ? dm

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This entry was posted on January 30, 2018 by .
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