A Stay Against Corruption

ste chapelle 2




Today’s verb: Se ressourcer.  Rediscover one’s roots, find new energy.  (definition Larousse)



Look.  These are not the best of times here on the east side of the Channel.  On top of France’s chronic woes of the past few years, most notably

– economic hemophilia (essentially zero growth, ratcheting public expenditures)

– and social ills (high immigration + poor assimilation= poverty and radicalization)

– both resulting in a strong middle class march toward the far-right, anti-Europe Front National

the country is now suffering from a painful rash of political scandals and rumor-mongering at and from the top levels of government.  The abuses of power, accusations and counter-accusations flying about are really enough to make one long for the simpler days of off-hours sexual follies.

(Apropos: in a recent national poll, the majority of voters stated that of all potential candidates, Dominique Strauss-Kahn would do the best job of leading them out of the present mess.  Of course, DSK is not a candidate for anything.  He is in Serbia, offering his services pro bono as economic counselor.  Fact 1.  Fact 2, the poll was suppressed, then recently leaked by l’Express.  Cherchez l’erreur.)

In the crowded field of dubious power maneuvers, three cases stand out this month.  Very briefly, they are

— The government secretly listening in on ex-president Sarkozy’s private mobile phone calls, since early February.  And everyone at the top swearing they had no idea, and besides, the move was justified by suspicions of influence-mongering.

— Said government keeping Sarko’s agendas impounded, even though he was exonerated in the case for whih they were originally seized.  I am no lawyer, but seems to me this would not wash in the anglo-saxon system of justice.  But then France has a system of top-down nominated magistrates who do not, contrary to the US system, ever serve in the trenches as defenders or prosecutors.

— ‘L’affaire Anna.’  A local magistrate (sic) pressuring a young immigrant seeking citizenship to turn mole on the political movement she is engaged in.

And then there is the weird business of Sarko’s ex-counselor Patrick Buisson, a rightwing thorn in any side he could find, having secretly recording personal conversations, including those with wife Carla Bruni.  Apparently, traitors lurk behind every bush!

One’s head spins like a garbage disposal.  It enough to make one want to flee the times we’re in.  Se ressourcer!

For that, there is la Sainte-Chapelle, semi-immured within the vast Palais de Justice  and mostly invisible to the hoards of tourists surging by en route to Notre Dame.  According to the official description, she was ‘built in the 12th century, upon the order of King Saint-Louis, to house Christ’s Crown of Thorns, now held at Notre-Dame. The upper chapel of the monument is covered in 600m² of stained glass windows, of which two thirds are authentic. It’s one of the most complete and remarkable sets of stained glass of this era.’

With its small footprint and soaring height, la Sainte-Chapelle  is a capsule of transcendent equilibrium.   The acoustics aren’t bad either, so it’s used for chamber concerts.  Last night the Paul Rouger group played three Bach string concertos.  (BWV 1041, 1042 and 1043).   If you can find and play them, while taking in this image of yesterday’s last light illuminating the windows of la Sainte-Chapelle, you may find yourself ressourcé as well.


  1. Music is the only balm for the soul these days. And chamber music in Sainte-Chapelle? An extraordinary pleasure.

    1. When will you be back in Paris, Irene?

  2. Nice to read this again KAi , Se Ressourcer.

    1. So good to hear your voice, Ellen!

  3. Gorgeous writing, as usual, this time in particular about Ste-Chapelle, but in against the backdrop of the news of suffocating smog, the glory of music serves to make Paris seem only more grey, exhausted, and out of ideas…

    1. Paris has been out of breath (some cleansing wind and rain this weekend) but France is not out of ideas. Subject of next post, perhaps?

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