Thursday, March 11, 2010

Who drives ligne 14?

This morning, I was sure I was going to be late for my philosophy TD because, when I got to Chatelet to switch from ligne 14 to ligne 4, there was a problem. I'm not sure what happened, but from the muffled voices I heard on the loudspeakers, I think there were two problems: one between Chatelet and Les Halles, and another between Montparnasse and Vavin. The only problem for me was the Les Halles one, but still, we had to wait in the metro for about twenty minutes. By then, it didn't matter how early I had wanted to be for the class, because the metro driver didn't seem to care. It took forever! When we finally got to Porte de Clignancourt (absolute last stop), I sprinted over to the school and up the stairs, and, lo and behold, when I got to the classroom, the professor wasn't there! So, I sat down and caught my breath. A few minutes later, Mlle Benoliel walked in and apologized, adding that there was a problem with ligne 4 and that she had to get on at Odeon (which is before Chatelet, so she was probably stuck in the midst of everything). In philosophy, we talked about humanism. Specifically, we focused on Saint Augustin (good thing I already read his confessions!), Martin Luther, and John Calvin and their perceptions of man's relationship with God. It was interesting. Eventually, we got to humanism and how humanists study the humanities, which apparently bring man closer to being man. That reasoning seems kind of cyclic to me, though. Of course people who study the humanities are going to say that they're more human because of it. It's kind of like the expression "the pen is mightier than the sword." The person with the pen wrote that - and humanists certainly would advocate their own studies. Oh, and I got the subject of the almost dissertation I have to write for philosophy: Comment on the sentence of Erasmus: "One is not born man, but one becomes man." So, first I need to ask: "Why did they give me this sentence?"

After philosophy, I spent a lot of time talking to this American I met in class - but don't worry. She may be American, but she's been in Paris for the past six years and is an actual Sorbonne student. So, she might as well be French. I suppose I'll see her tomorrow morning bright and early!

Then, for the second time of the day, I was worried about getting to a class on time. Ligne 13 wasn't running very fast either. I swear, they should just make every line like ligne 14! Anyway, I got there five minutes late, but everyone was just standing outside the classroom and the professor was running around confused. I asked Christelle what was going on, and she said there was another class in our room. Finally, after half an hour, the professor came back and told us we were switching rooms. On the walk to Building D, she told us that she had mentioned that the acoustics in the room weren't super great, but hadn't thought they would change the room without letting her know about it! In the class (OuLiPo writing workshop, by the way), we wrote haikus in French. Good thing I know how to count French syllables! Then, we did a really really hard exercise in the last few minutes - write a sentence and then a paragraph with words that have E's as their only vowels. It was the opposite of La Disparition of Georges Perec and our lipogrammatic translations from two weeks ago, and it was really hard thinking of words like that in another language. I don't think my paragraph was very good, but I think the professor really respects how brave I am to take a class like this when I'm not French.

Finally, there was my third l'OuLiPo meeting tonight! Christelle and I went, and I definitely think I'm understanding more and more. I can't believe I only have two left before I leave! Jacques Roubaud wasn't there tonight either. Tonight, they were talking about erudition and it was really funny - the excerpts they read were mathematical, philosophical, and Proustian (is that a word?)! At the end, they started talking about what one needs to do to stop being a member of l'OuLiPo, and started talking about mass suicides. Maybe they are a cult - but they're my cult!

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