Picasso (59)

I have a tendency at times to get a bit restless. The downside of this is that in moments where I’m hitting a block mentally, my mind tends to race in about as many directions away from what I want to focus on than I can possibly imagine. Normally, when a situation like this hits (like it did this morning when I was staring at my conference paper draft that I knew I needed to add…something to, but could not put my finger on what), I tend to seek solace not just in my usual walks, but in something more intellectually stimulating.

Like art exhibits.

The Picasso Museum in Paris is currently hosting an exhibit titled Picasso 1932, année érotique (Picasso 1932, an erotic year). There’s been a bit of good buzz around the exhibit, so I figured that, since studying erotics has been, if nothing else, at the background of a lot of what I do, why not spend some time around a thing that is both familiar yet has absolutely nothing to do with the paper I am currently blocked on.

And, as these things usually go, I think that may have worked.

I’m not an art expert by any means, but even I can say that the praise surrounding this exposition is not entirely unfounded. The whole thing is laid out like a sort of calendar/journal tracing Picasso’s life and art in the year 1932, with letters, newspaper clippings, posters and personal photographs interspersed amongst the paintings themselves.

And I’m not sure if this had anything to do with why I left with such a good impression of the exhibit, but I couldn’t help but freeze momentarily when, after stepping into one of the exhibit rooms, I came face-to-face with this :

If you are familiar with Hokusai’s “The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife”, maybe you’ll agree that there is something about this piece that harkens very strongly back to it. Or at least, I thought so. There was just something about the way the female body has become so refracted, so broken down, reshaped and manipulated that it regains a sort of animalistic quality as it reaches back to envelop the head in repose that I could not look away from for what seemed like the longest time. In any case, I think that somewhat snapped me out of my tailspin because I went through the rest of the exhibit with an almost clear head (let’s be honest with ourselves, my mind is never not racing on something, but better one or a few things than a hundred).

The rest of my afternoon before my 5pm tutoring session consisted of stopping by the FNAC to pick up a book recently recommended to me (a French translation of an Icelandic novel) and then grabbing a quick snack before having to stop myself from getting too far into the book too quickly. Yes, this is a legitimate problem.

Back in Paris, Day 3

Roaming around the kitchenware section of a department store is pretty much a recipe for disaster for me because 1) I want everything and 2) I immediately remember the limits of my budget (also, does one really need a spiralizer?).

On the plus side, I did manage to snag (among a couple other things) a filter coffee maker – because there are some American things that cannot be given up, apparently – and a small kitchen scale for when the inevitable urge to bake hits (as well as for my daily coffee measuring. Again, habits).

This evening I met up with an acquaintance at the Canal, and during the course of our conversation, the subject of what we were planning to do after finishing our respective PhDs inevitably came up. Maybe it’s cliché, but every time I get asked this question, I can’t help but think of the opening of The Graduate when everyone is hounding Ben about his ‘future’. 

(Side note : this is also the film that inspired my affinity for bourbon because if, as a woman, you’re going to take inspiration on how to live your best life, why not take it from Mrs. Robinson?)

I mentioned that I had been considering getting back to writing again, specifically for theatre. I haven’t written a full play since high school, but I have little free-form sketches and imagined dialogues scattered amongst the pages of countless notebooks stored mostly in my parents’ house in California (if not lost forever). Part of me thinks I should just buckle down and make something out of them – especially in Paris, which up to this point has been one of the few places where I’ve felt an insatiable itch to write – but there’s this nagging fear in the back of my head of putting out something in the world that I consider to be an intimate part of myself. Maybe I just set too high expectations for myself for what I consider to be ‘worthy’ for public consumption. Aren’t we all our own worst critics, after all?

Speaking of books, I’m leaving for my annual visit to the homeland (Greece) soon, and am looking for book recommendations since I pretty much sped through the one I was hoping to save for the trip (final side note : everyone should read Wajdi Mouawad’s Anima. Non-French speakers, I’m not sure if there is an English translation available, but if there is, get it. Now. Seriously. It’s that good. TW : I should note that it gets very intense/violent at times, so it might not be the best read for everyone), and now I’m very close to just bringing my copy of A Thousand Plateaus with me.

So, any recommendations, friends and readers? I’m open to pretty much anything and everything. To give an idea, past summer beach reads have included the following : 

  • Les Misérables
  • Anna Karenina
  • War and Peace (this one being a particularly hilarious choice, given that a large part of it takes place in the dead of Russian winter).