Realism(s) #11, or: not exhausting a place not in Paris

4 September 2010
5:10 PM

The sky is gray. Fleeting sunny spells.

The wind is making the leaves on the trees move.


A rather big chunk of sky (maybe one-sixth of my field of vision)

tens, hundreds of simultaneous actions, micro-events, each one of which necessitates postures, movements, specific expenditures of energy:

It is five after one. A woman is running across the square in front of the church.

A basset hound. A man with a bow tie. An 86.

People stumble. Micro-accidents.

A young girl is eating half a palmier.

A man with a pipe and black satchel.

Funeral wreaths are being brought out of the church.

There are people who read while walking, not a lot, but a few.

Indistinct shadows.

It is five after four. Weary eyes. Weary words.

A man wants to enter the cafe; but he tries pulling the door instead of pushing it


Open umbrellas

Influx of human or automotive crowds. Lulls. Alternations.

The pigeons are almost immobile. It is difficult to count them, though (200, maybe): some are asleep, feet tucked up. It's time for their cleaning (with their beaks, they comb through their crops or their wings); some are perched on the rim of the third basin of the fountain. People are coming out of the church.

The sun is hidden. There's some wind.

A man in a raincoat makes a big gesture

A car goes by, its hood covered in dead leaves

Oranges in a string bag.

Watched, or rather, excited by its master, a black dog frisks around the plaza.


The pigeons are on the plaza. They all fly off at the same time.

Four children. A dog. A little ray of sun. The 96. It is two o'clock

--fragments from a short text by Georges Perec, An Attempt at Exhausting a Place in Paris, written in Place Saint-Sulpice, 18-20 October 1974. Trans. Marc Lowenthal (who describes it as "something like a Life, without the manual") for Wakefield Press, 2010. More info here.

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