Articles and such

City of the Sun

First published in Bazaar Magazine, Kuwait, 2008

I never liked gold. As a color, I’ve always found it strangely aggravating and almost offensive to my eyes. But something about Paris has allowed me to appreciate and, dare I say, even love the subtleties of the color. It was, that new-found love, a direct result of the Parisian sun.

The way the light caresses and teases the gold of the city is quite remarkable. The gentle late afternoon rays hitting the garish gold of the grand obelisk that sits, almost indifferent, in the Place de la Concorde… The way the sun hit it blinded me for a split-second; it was almost as if the obelisk were being illuminated from within. The hieroglyphs that snake their way up the golden apex came alive in that light. They seemed to tell a story, and lament the loss of their beloved Luxor, while around the eight statuettes sat in gentle consolation, insisting that the hieroglyphs and, indeed, the whole obelisk are where they belong.

The sight left me with a lingering feeling that perhaps Tommaso Campanella did succeed in his Hermetic ambitions for Paris; that perhaps Paris is the modern-day Adocentyn — a bona fide City of the Sun. The French must be aware of the effect their sun has on the color gold, for it permeates the city. The gates are gilded in gold; the lettering of the shop signs, gold; the fountains bask in the sparkle of their wet, golden detailing. Even the autumn leaves are not immune to the sun’s power for, perhaps out of envy, they have all obediently turned gold.

At night, Paris is not unlike any other pedestrian metropolis; people walk their dogs, lovers idle in street cafes, hipsters trot back and forth between the hottest clubs… Just like London, just like New York. But by day, Paris, its buildings, domes, gardens and rivers, streets and landmarks all lend it a spellbinding, almost surreal quality.

They call Paris ‘The City of Lights.’ I think that’s a misnomer or perhaps an idiom lost in translation.

Paris, I think, is ‘The City of Light.’

Copyright © 2008 Layla AlAmmar