Monday, November 14, 2011

Paris match

A highlight of my last visit to Paris was Seconde Main, an exhibition of forgeries and pastiches at the Museum of Modern Art. And now we discover that, towards the end of the First World War, the French began building a massive replica of Paris, to confuse the Germans. This can be contrasted with the Americans, who now build massive replicas of Paris and other cities, mainly to confuse Americans; and then in Macao they replicate the replicas, as if anyone cares. But that’s just cheesy postmodernism, and you get quite enough of that here already. If the practical purpose of the decoy Paris was to protect the real city, and to do so the French wanted to create a simulacrum that was identical in all respects, surely there must have come a point at which the builders would have decided the decoy was so beautiful and romantic that it needed protection as well, and so another decoy would need to be built – a replica of the replica – and so on...

Which in turn reminds me of Borges’ story On Exactitude in Science,  in which he discussed the notion of a map that was exactly the same size as the territory it depicted; the question being the extent to which a representation of an object becomes that object. Which almost certainly sounds better in Spanish:

2 comments:

Rog said...

It reminded me of Steven Wright's comment about returning to his flat to find that everything had been replaced by an exact replica.

Not Steve "love the show Steve" Wright that is ....

Tim Footman said...

Glad for the clarification there, Rog. Although of course Steven Wright played the DJ in Reservoir Dogs, and the juxtaposition of Stealer's Wheel with the ear-cutting scene was clearly influenced by the other SW's decision to play Wham! immediately after news of the Chernobyl disaster came in, which in turn provoked Morrissey to write 'Panic'. Which is probably going to be used in next year's John Lewis ad, about last-minute shopping.