Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Paris Journal III: Horlogerie

Photo by Hallie Cohen

If you walk down the Boulevard Raspail to the tiny rue du Cherche-Midi, you will come to a bronze plaque outside a narrow storefront: Horlogerie Arvaud. The left side of the window reads Restauration de Pendules Anciens, and on the right Reparations Bijouterie Horlogerie. There are period candelabras surrounded by clocks in glass, under which is the inscriptions Experts Pres la cour D’Appel, which is simply an elegant way of saying that the watch store does estimates. In the window is also a scene—a dog and a dog house surrounded by rabbits—into which is nestled a gold pocket watch. Here is a world of objects, alarms clocks and a decorative time keepers, which have eluded the digital age. In Manhattan and several other large cities, there are still old fashioned typewriter stores which service Royals and Olympias and provide typewriter ribbons for the small band of luddites who have managed to avoid the world of computers. The tiny shop on the ancient Paris street similarly caters to a dwindling population who maintain ancient time pieces in timeless Left Bank apartments which have outlived wars and invasions, the Jacobins, the expulsion of Napoleon’s army from Russia, the occupation of Paris by the Nazis, whose headquarters were at the Lutetia down the street from this little piece of the past, and the succession of Republics that make France what it is today.

[This was originally posted to The Screaming Pope, Francis Levy's blog of rants and reactions to contemporary politics, art and culture.]

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