Dans le café de la jeunesse perdue
Cafe of Lost Youth by Patrick Modiano
Even the very beginning of this text reminded me that elusively attractive atmosphere of Paris and Parisian cafes, which is imbued with the texts of Julio Cortazar – for example, his story “El otro cielo.” or the beginning of the novel “Rayuela”.
And the idea of writing down the names of all visitors to all Parisian cafes in a notebook (the idea of ”intersection points”) or the idea that all missing people have “settled” in furnished rooms where they are not asked for documents, is very similar to the idea of counting the number of people entering and leaving the metro in “Records in a notebook “and games with” the Mondrian tree of the Paris Metro” from the story”A manuscript found in a pocket” by Cortazar.
This short novel is about finding oneself in space (and not just in space, but exactly in the space of Paris) and in time – in one’s memoirs, many of which relate, again, to movement along the streets of Paris.
It is very important for the heroes which zone of Paris they live in, and one guy even creates a theory of “neutral zones“. Wandering around the city, on some streets they are surprised to find themselves, as if not in the capital, but in the provinces, and, fantasizing, they outline for themselves houses where they would like to live and which they, it would seem, have just left in a kind of their parallel life …
The girl carries with her a book with the eloquent title “The Lost Horizon” and seeks to get out of the narrow framework in which her life is enclosed. When life has a perspective – for example, when you want to travel “in the heart of summer – where time has stopped and the hands of the clock always show noon“, then “the horizon line stretches far ahead, there, in infinity.”
In an effort to escape from anxiety and a feeling of emptiness, she always looks for a new life, new acquaintances, “refuge”, and at times she briefly manages to find a “heady feeling of lightness“, and she is most happy in the very moment when she flees from somewhere.
It all began with a movie theater stimulating the unattainable dreams with the expressive name “Mexico City”, after the sessions in which
“Colored neon signs were just like in the movies: emerald green, dark blue, sandy yellow … The colors were too bright, and it seemed that you were on the other side of the screen, or in a dream …”
The guy who is her friend is obessed by the thought of a kind of the Eternal Return – “There are days when you don’t immediately remember what year you live in … Everything repeats itself. Identical days, nights, places, meetings ”, but after years he bitterly realizes:
“Now here you will not meet the ghosts of the past – even they died … In this world … I more and more seemed to myself to be an accidental survivor.”