Liberty leading the people, 1830
Oil on canvas.
Today Francophiles everywhere commemorate Bastille Day…and in classic french style, the Parisian paper of record Le Monde published the following analysis this morning. [fyi-bastille day is celebrated each year in france by a large parade, led my the military through paris and followed by fireworks]
Paradox: “contradiction”. Origin, at the end of the Middle Ages, the Greek paradoxos, “opposite with the common opinion”.
What could be more paradoxical than the military procession of the July 14? Let us imagine that an armed crowd is assembled in front of a Parisian prison with an aim of taking it by storm and releasing the prisoners (exactly what occurred on July 14, 1789). The armed forces would more than likely intervene to disperse the mob-it is for this reason that they exist. And yet, here it is today that the contemporary army “commemorates” an event which its predecessors had not managed to prevent: a little as if [religious right leader and notorious homophobe] Christine Boutin drove a tank to the gay pride.
Zidane, un portrait du 21e siècle (Zidane, A 21st Century Portrait) is a documentary film by British artist Douglas Gordon and French filmmaker Phillippe Parrano. The film follows Zidane in real time through a single game accompanied by a moody, ambient score from Scottish band Mogwai.
I am not sure what it is exactly that I find so transfixing about Zizou but I think it has something to do with his ability to appear a calm center–the eye of the storm. Totally focused and unaware of his own raw energy. The best athletes in the world seem to make it look effortless. And if one considers that neuroscience shows us that watching someone perform a physical action activates the synaptic pathways in our own mind that would be used to perform the same actions with our own bodies. Perhaps the allure is the vicarious experience of active peace.