Ordinary Paris and the Art of Noticing
Wherever the infraordinary is taken away, wherever civilians are targeted, not only in Paris, Perec’s manifesto rings true. “Question your teaspoons,” he urges us. “What is there under your wallpaper?” he asks. Perec’s parents were killed in the Second World War, his father in the army, his mother in a concentration camp. He had firsthand experience of the eruption of evil into the everyday, so while in some ways An Attempt at Exhausting a Place in Paris is a comically Parisian text—oh, the French and their wine at lunch—on some level, it is the diary of an orphaned child who can never accept that the world is the way it is. Why is the world put together this way? This si parisien elevation of the ordinary into something compelling knows that in its peripheral vision lurks the menace of evil, and purposefully, radically chooses to focus, instead, on the fabric of peace.