Tuesday, November 27, 2007
It seems that a guerrilla band infiltrated one of Paris's most famous monuments ... in order to restore its clock.
The Centre of National Monuments, embarrassed by the way the group entered the building so easily, did not take to the news kindly, taking legal action and replacing the administrator.
Getting into the building was the easiest part, according to Klausmann. The squad allowed themselves to be locked into the Panthéon one night, and then identified a side entrance near some stairs leading up to their future hiding place. "Opening a lock is the easiest thing for a clockmaker," said Klausmann. From then on, they sneaked in day or night under the unsuspecting noses of the Panthéon's officials.
"I've been working here for years," said a ticket officer at the Panthéon who wished to remain anonymous. "I know every corner of the building. And I never noticed anything."
Aux grands hommes, la patrie reconnaissante ...
Pour la petite histoire: in 1977 I lived à deux pas du Panthéon at 214, rue des Médicis, the very place where Jean Calvin lived when he was a young student in theology. I went every day to write in the Café Soufflot, just down the rue Soufflot from the Panthéon, not far from where this picture may have been taken. Michel Foucault frequently took his lunch in the same café.
So this morning's news that François Hollande, meeting with reporters aboard the train returning from Avignon, still regards himself as a présidentiable for 2012, seemed as good an occasion as any to advert to the virtual absence of the PS from the national scene. Perhaps the upcoming municipal elections will reveal that the party is less moribund than it appears. But if the PS was waiting for massive strikes to destabilize the new regime and inaugurate an era of cohabitation as in 1995, it would seem to have miscalculated. It will have to reconquer power with a program of its own, not wait for control to be ceded to it by default. Or else, if it concludes that its internal divisions are too deep to permit any such reconquest, it had better disband and allow its various factions to strike out on their own in quest of a new political philosophy, which may abandon the label "socialist" altogether (as Manuel Valls has proposed). Many who voted socialist out a sense of "family obligation" no longer identify with the party's current philosophy, if they can even articulate what it is or differentiate it convincingly from that of the parti en face. And countless "family members," from BHL to Julien Dray, from Jack Lang to Claude Allègre, have intimated in one way or another that they are as fascinated by Sarkozy's energy as a moth is by a candle flame, and more or less indifferent to the personalities of the left.
This is not a healthy situation. One cannot disguise rotting leftovers with dollops of sauce hollandaise, especially when the sauce has not entirely prise.