The absence of Amelie

by totalcontrivance

The absence of Amelie (Paris; August 23 2012)


I have something to day, goddamnit. or, more likely, something to think through, something to mull over. But now I must do it in pen, and not the pencil—the red Faber-Castell led pencil I bought from Yusuf at Bilgi in Istanbul. (The jar of pencils sits next to a wooden carving of a slouchy man creature that Yusuf had made in a photo I took. And perhaps it is the kind of pencil he used to trace the face of Beethoven as it sits behind him when he is at the cash register in the tiny shop. But I doubt that; now I am just making things up.)

And it’s not because I don’t have the pencil—I have it, and I have led, but as of now the two components are separate and I am incapable of assembling them in a way that might enable led marks to imprint themselves on paper. Because of this, I am forced to write in pen, and this mulling over takes on far too much weight—heavy ink—permanence, contrast with whiteness of page, than it really ought to.

Despite this pain of permanence, this fear of commitment, I sit in Cafe de 2 Moulins in Paris, France. I imagine Amelie were working and, if she were, that we might make eye contact and then quickly look away; if after that I might leave this book behind, knowing she would discover it; if she might wonder at the possibility of knowing someone more intimately than in the quickly averted gaze; if she might make a connection between Nino’s book of found portraits and this book of found words, arranged in ways that—it can only be hoped—take on meaning through the discovery-by-reading of someone like Amelie. Someone who wears strawberries on her fingertips and whispers colours into the ear of a blind man.

Amelie is not here, but she is the reason that all these other people are here; people with maps; iphones; cameras; backpacks; plastic water bottles; laminated itineraries; books to read; glasses of wine; café and creme brûlée. Lipstick marks and the buzz and hum of voices. And in all this perhaps there is something we can use as a bridge to tiptoe carefully across the surging artificiality beneath—the fact that we are all HERE, though there might not be the SENTIDO I was looking for, the SENTIDO that comes from the special light that Jean-Pierre Jeunet uses to illuminate film, and so of course would be missing, here, in the real where I am now.

But that’s what art does, I guess: improves, where it can, upon reality.