Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Day Has Come...

...for "be[ing] small," as per the advice of Adam Gopnik.  In his New York Times bestseller Paris to the Moon, Gopnik paints a nuanced picture of Paris as a city of grandeur--une ville de puissance!--and its American inhabitants as poster-boys and girls of humility.  He warns the Americans who follow in his wandering footsteps aboard an airplane to touch down seven hours later in Charles de Gaulle "to be prepared...--to live, to trudge, to have your head down in melancholy and then lift it up, sideways--to get it."  Paris: where the architecture is grand and imposing, not the people (what a concept).  If Americans cannot check their beer guts and jelly rolls at customs, then surely try to check the attitude Gopnik coaxes his reader (because Paris is only big enough for one type of pompous pretention and that is French nationalism).
Of course, at this point I am mostly concerned with checking three suitcases which racks up $100 in additional fees if you're traveling with US Airways now'a'days.  This cost is approximately a quarter the price of my affordable one-way ticket between NC and Europe.  For those youthful (i.e. broke) travelers not fortunate enough to have a personal Mommy fast-cash ATM dispenser along for the ride, consider:

A passage from the beginning of Gopnik's book (which is quickly becoming my Bible of sorts, my sole insight into Parisienne life before I am dumped in it) captures perfectly my sentiments towards my next year abroad: "Americans, Henry James wrote, 'are too apt to think that Paris is the celestial city,' and even if we don't quite think that, some of us do think of it as the place where tickets are sold for the train to get you there."  I will board my metaphorical train shortly with humility but also with wide eyes and this blog will be my weekly political-cultural-travel report for the rest of you all, what it actually means today to be an American in Paris.

1 comment:

  1. It's interesting you say that about "a celestial city" because I flew over Paris a few hours before sunrise last night and looked down thinking it looked more like a universe with all its lights than the sky. Anyway, have an awesome time!
    P.S. Your blog is very sophisticated with its literary references and whatnot, you set a standard I don't think I'll be able to match.