„The charm of a city, now we come to it, is not unlike the charm of flowers. It partly depends on seeing time creep across it. Charm needs to be fleeting. Nothing could be less palatable than a museum-city propped up by prosthetic devices of concrete.
Paris is not in danger of becoming a museum-city, thanks to the restlessness and greed of promoters. Yet their frenzy to demolish everything is less objectionable than their clumsy determination to raise housing projects that cannot function without the constant presence of an armed police force…
All these banks, all these glass buildings, all these mirrored facades are the mark of a reflected image. You can no longer see what’s happening inside, you become afraid of the shadows. The city becomes abstract, reflecting only itself. People almost seem out of place in this landscape. Before the war, there were nooks and crannies everywhere.
Now people are trying to eliminate shadows, straighten streets. You can’t even put up a shed without the personal authorization of the minister of culture.
When I was growing up, my grandpa built a small house. Next door the youth club had some sheds, down the street the local painter stored his equipment under some stretched-out tarpaulin. Everybody added on. It was telescopic. A game. Life wasn’t so expensive — ordinary people would live and work in Paris. You’d see masons in blue overalls, painters in white ones, carpenters in corduroys. Nowadays, just look at Faubourg Sainte-Antoine — traditional craftsmen are being pushed out by advertising agencies and design galleries. Land is so expensive that only huge companies can build, and they have to build ‘huge’ in order to make it profitable. Cubes, squares, rectangles. Everything straight, everything even. Clutter has been outlawed. But a little disorder is a good thing. That’s where poetry lurks. We never needed promoters to provide us, in their generosity, with ‘leisure spaces.’ We invented our own. Today there’s no question of putting your own space together, the planning commission will shut it down. Spontaneity has been outlawed. People are afraid of life.“