A FEW WEEKS AGO the radio warned of a ‘tempete’ over all of Europe. In fact bad things happened elsewhere, power failures and fatalities, but as in the riots of ’05 Paris appeared immune, a city in a bubble. I walked & metroed over to the musee d’orsay. The wind was simply wind. Day very dark, a spit of rain now and then. Nothing big. It was the warmth that astounded, this tropical winter.
Painter Maurice Denis was a bourgeois homebody of st germain en laye where he lived all his life with enriching excursions and the incredible luck to meet early in life such friends as Vuillard, Bonnet and more, then Cezanne and Redon. Also Verlaine. The boys all met at school. Some schools, and why are certain times and places full of yeasty encounters, and others thin as gruel? Denis was not the strongest artist of the cadre but he was their theoretician, lynch-pin of the ‘nobis’ group, whose idea seems roughly to have been: art is a representation of an intent, at least a singular emotion–but not a representational ‘window’. Denis praised decoration, which became his fatal weakness, but I loved the painting in which fallen leaves are worked in like carpets– the outside world become an interior. He was madly in love with his wife, Marthe; their first child died but another five or more lived to be loved and painted. His palette is very studied: greens with oranges, blues with rose. Amazing work with oblique light. The painting of himself on the terrace at dusk, eating fruit with Marthe. What tugs most in his work is the adored family, and, like signs from a man’s secret wild side, offhandedly intense landscapes splashed out for the novis’ club monthly meetings.
RETURN TO ROYAL: for those who live elsewhere, I intended a spicy catalogue of her recent gaffes. But things have gone too far, or rather Our Lady in White Chanel has. It’s neither fun nor pretty to kick anyone when she’s down. (One wishes some brave aide would tell this to Sarko, suggest he stop gleefully rubbing his hands, like the troll under the bridge, in public.) This week Segolene slid another ten points in the polls, that about tells the story. Not that the race is over, of course. Four months to go.
It isn’t that what she saw in China moved her to praise that country’s ‘swift system of justice’ (swift for sure, at 3400 executions last year). It’s not that she didn’t know how many nuclear subs France has (kind of a trick question to throw at a newcomer, isn’t it?) Not that she stoutly declared support for the independence of both Quebec and Corsica. Not the confetti of errors on her mid-East jaunt, starting with defense of the Wall in Palestine, crowned by her meeting with Hamas. Not even my personal horror (because if elected she just might pull this one off): the proposal of paramilitary reform schools for gangster-youngsters. (Such institutions have been tried elsewhere with disastrous outcomes.) And never mind the tremulously venomous tell-all just published by a close staff-member who details being gypped and screamed at for years (although if it is all true, Sego belongs in a white collar prison rather than the Palais Elysee.) No–what irritates beyond words is her one size fits all response to criticism, all variations on: ‘it’s so hard to be a woman in this man’s world.’ Peeyoo.
It’s worth noting that if you close your eyes, many of Mme Royal’s spontaneous utterances sound more like they’re coming from the far right than the middle left.