Вы находитесь на странице: 1из 21
The Eiffel Tower Author(s): Roland Barthes Source: AA Files, No. 64 (2012), pp. 112-131 Published

The Eiffel Tower Author(s): Roland Barthes Source: AA Files, No. 64 (2012), pp. 112-131

Published by: Architectural Association School of Architecture

Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/41762314 .

Accessed: 04/05/2014 10:36

Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at . http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp

.

JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact support@jstor.org.

.

information about JSTOR, please contact support@jstor.org. . Architectural Association School of Architecture is

Architectural Association School of Architecture is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to AA Files.

http://www.jstor.org

This content downloaded from 66.180.182.80 on Sun, 4 May 2014 10:36:53 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

the Left Bank of

the

the Seine, inParis's

in Paris's

Seine,

7th 7tharrondissement, arrondissement,

on onaxiswiththe axis with the

Trocadéro

Trocadéro gardens

to the north and

tothenorthand

the theÉcoleMilitaire École Militaire

gardens

to the

tothe south,slightly

south, slightly

impacted

impacted into

Haussmann's

Haussmann's grid

between QuaiBranly

Quai Branly

between

into

grid

andAvenue Joseph

and Avenue

Joseph

Bouvard, butvisible

but visible

Bouvard,

On

for miles

formiles around,

around,

standsa

Builtin 1889 astheentrancearchtotheWorld's

Fair, and marking the centenary oftheFrench

Revolution, itisnamedafterthe engineer who designed it - theEiffelTower.

Universallyrecognised asanemblemnot just forParisbutforFranceasa whole, thestatistics

ofits engineering offeranavalancheofdatathat

helps contextualiseits symbolic resonance.For

the purposes of brevity Iwillshare only twoof

thesewith you.Firstly, theEiffelTowerhasbeen

painted 18timessinceitsinitial construction,

andhas

fromred-brownto yellow-ochre, thentochestnut

brownand finally tothebronzeof today. Although tobemore precise itis currently painted inthreedifferentshadesof bronze, with thedarkestonthebottomandthe lightest on

the top, toenhancethe impression of height and ensurethatthecolouris perceived tobethesame

allthe wayup

And secondly, theEiffelTowerrestaurant -

Le Jules Verne -

ontheseconddeckofthe tower,currently offers

a three-coursemenuthatincludesa crabclaw starterwith gold caviarandmarinated turnips,

followed bypan-seared beef tournedos, fresh

duckfoie gras, soufflé potatoes anda Périgueux

sauce, roundedoffwithan

dessertand lightlywhipped cream. The tower,then, ofcourse (as ifitneeds

restating), is peculiarly,wholeheartedly French. Perhaps thisis why Roland Barthes, the great

detectiveofFrance'scultural identity, chose

towriteabout it,famouslybeginning hismini treatisewithananecdoteabouthow Maupassant usedtolunchatthetowerbecauseitwasthe onlyplace inPariswherehedidn'thavetolookat it.Overthe years, Barthes'brilliant analysis has cometobecherishedasmuchasthetoweritself

(Maupassant's disdain notwithstanding), butthe intricaciesofits writing anddisseminationbear closer scrutiny. Barthes' original,complete textwasfirst

published inFrenchinthe

part of Delpire's 'Le génie dulieu' (Spirit of

the Place)series, whichalsoincluded profiles ofStMark'sBasilicaandtheGreat Mosque at Kirwan.Liketheseother titles, thebookwas

324m-highwrought ironstructure.

changed colourseveral times,passing

asitstands against theParis sky.

run by AlainDucasseandlocated

Armagnac baba

1964 LaTour Eiffel,

112

produced asa handsome,square, hardcover volume,complementedby a seriesof very fine photographsby AndréMartinanda short

historical essay. Seven yearsearlier, in 1957, Seuil had published Barthes'first book, a collection of essays,previously writtenforthe bi-monthly magazine LesLettres Nouvelles,whichexamined aneclecticmixofmodern phenomena andthe

meanings and significances thathadbeen

conferred upon them. Among thesewere short,

meditative, but utterlycompelling textsonred

wine,professionalwrestling andtheCitroënds. Barthes'elucidationoftheseculturalartefacts

myths lentthebookits title,Mythologies. Overthenext20 years, onthebackofthesuccess ofthisbookandthe many othersthat followed, Barthes'statureasa writer, semioticianand

as

philosophergrewexponentially, andwith it,

thedemandfor English translationsofhis variousbooks.In 1972 theNewYork publisher

Hill&

Wangproduced thefirst English editionof

Mythologies, followedsoonafter by ThePleasure

of theTextandS/Z.Andthenin 1979Farrar, StrausandGiroux (parentcompany toHill& Wang)produced a secondvolumeof essays

drawnfrom Mythologies, thistime adding a new text - Barthes'EiffelTower essay - sothatthe book'stitlebecameThe Eiffel Tower&Other Mythologies. Andsoitwasasanother - oreven thedefinitive - 'mythology' thattheEiffelTower extendedits symbolicpurposebycoming to

represent an

philosophicalenquiry. This publishingbackstory is merely a preamble tothefactthat recently theaa doctoral

studentAldo Urbinati,researching theEiffel TowerforhisPhD thesis, discoveredthatfor some mysterious reasonwhen Farrar, Straus andGiroux published their Englishlanguage versionofBarthes' essay, RichardHoward's translationcovered only thefirsthalfofthetext. Awholesecondhalfremaineduntouched. Andsowhat you seehereonthe pages that followisthefirst completeEnglish versionofthe essay(prefacedby AndréMartin's panoramic photographs, takenfromthe top, andtherefore

showingabsolutelyeverything butthe tower),

marrying Howard'sfirsthalfwitha newsecond- halftranslation byJulie Rose.Andwith it, what wasoncea lastline - 'onecandream there, eat there, observe there, understand there, marvel

there,shopthere; asonanoceanliner (another mythicobject thatsetschildren dreaming), onecanfeeloneselfcutofffromtheworldand yet theownerofaworld' - suddenly becomes nota denouementbuta bridge toa oncelost butnowwhole againwrought iron mythology. - ThomasWeaver

emerging branchofculturaland

Followingpages: André Martin,panoramic photos fromthe top oftheEiffel Tower,1964 © Delpire éditeur

AAFILES 64

This content downloaded from 66.180.182.80 on Sun, 4 May 2014 10:36:53 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

/';-=09 )(8*=-0/']
/';-=09
)(8*=-0/']

This content downloaded from 66.180.182.80 on Sun, 4 May 2014 10:36:53 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

/';-=09 )(8*=-0/']
/';-=09
)(8*=-0/']

This content downloaded from 66.180.182.80 on Sun, 4 May 2014 10:36:53 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

/';-=09 )(8*=-0/']
/';-=09
)(8*=-0/']

This content downloaded from 66.180.182.80 on Sun, 4 May 2014 10:36:53 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

/';-=09 )(8*=-0/']
/';-=09
)(8*=-0/']

This content downloaded from 66.180.182.80 on Sun, 4 May 2014 10:36:53 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

/';-=09 )(8*=-0/']
/';-=09
)(8*=-0/']

This content downloaded from 66.180.182.80 on Sun, 4 May 2014 10:36:53 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

/';-=09 )(8*=-0/']
/';-=09
)(8*=-0/']

This content downloaded from 66.180.182.80 on Sun, 4 May 2014 10:36:53 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

/';-=09 )(8*=-0/']
/';-=09
)(8*=-0/']

This content downloaded from 66.180.182.80 on Sun, 4 May 2014 10:36:53 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

/';-=09 )(8*=-0/']
/';-=09
)(8*=-0/']

This content downloaded from 66.180.182.80 on Sun, 4 May 2014 10:36:53 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

/';-=09 )(8*=-0/']
/';-=09
)(8*=-0/']

This content downloaded from 66.180.182.80 on Sun, 4 May 2014 10:36:53 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

/';-=09 )(8*=-0/']
/';-=09
)(8*=-0/']

This content downloaded from 66.180.182.80 on Sun, 4 May 2014 10:36:53 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

/';-=09 )(8*=-0/']
/';-=09
)(8*=-0/']

This content downloaded from 66.180.182.80 on Sun, 4 May 2014 10:36:53 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

Maupassant oftenlunchedattherestaurant inthe Tower,though hedidn'tcaremuchfor thefood:'It'sthe onlyplace in Paris', heused to say, 'whereI don'thaveto see it'.Andit's truethat you musttakeendless precautions, in Paris, nottosee theEiffel Tower; whatever the season,through mistand cloud, onover- cast days orin sunshine, in rain - wherever you are, whateverthe landscape of roofs, domes or branches separatingyou from it,

theToweristhere ; incorporated into daily life

until you can no longergrant it anyspecific attribute, determined merely to persist, like a rockorthe river, itis as literalas a phenomenon ofnaturewhose meaning can be questioned to infinity butwhoseexistenceis incon- testable.Thereis virtually no Parisian glance itfailstotouchatsome timeof day; at themomentI beginwriting theselinesabout it, the

Toweris there, infrontof me, framed bymywindow; and atthe very momentthe Januarynight blurs it,apparentlytrying tomakeitinvis- ible, to deny its presence, twolittle lights come on,winkinggently as they revolveat its verytip: all this night,too, itwillbe there, con- necting me aboveParistoeach of my friendsthatI knoware seeing it:withitwe all comprise a shiftingfigure ofwhichitis the steady centre:theToweris friendly.

andnowconstitutesas an object, simultane- ously extendedandcollectedbeneath it, that Pariswhich just nowwas looking at it.The Tower is an object which sees, a glance whichis seen; it is a completeverb, both activeand passive, inwhichno function, no voice (as we say in grammar, witha piquant ambiguity) is defective.Thisdialecticis not intheleast banal, itmakesthetowera singu-

The

Eiffel

Tower

Roland

Barthes

lar monument; fortheworld ordinarilypro- duces either purely functional organisms (camera or eye) intendedto see things but whichthenafford nothing to sight, whatsees beingmythically linkedtowhatremainshidden (this is thethemeof the voyeur), or else spectacles whichthemselvesare blindand are leftinthe purepassivity ofthevisible.TheTower (and thisis one of

its mythicpowers)transgresses this separation, thishabitualdivorce

of seeing and being seen ;

thetwo functions; itis a completeobject which has, ifone maysay so, bothsexesof sight. Thisradiant position intheorderof percep-

tion gives ita prodigiouspropensity to meaning: theTowerattracts meaning, the way a lightning rodattracts thunderbolts; forall lovers of signification, it plays a glamorouspart, thatofa puresignifier,ie, ofa forminwhichmen unceasinglyputmeaning(whichthey extract at willfromtheir knowledge, their dreams, their history), without

this meaningthereby ever being finiteand fixed:whocan say what theTowerwillbe for humanity tomorrow?Buttherecanbe nodoubt

it will always be something, and something of humanity itself. Glance,object,symbol, suchistheinfinitecircuitoffunctionswhich

permits it always tobe something otherand something muchmore thantheEiffelTower. Inorderto satisfy this great oneiric function, whichmakesitinto

a kindoftotal monument, theTowermust escape reason.The first

conditionofthisvictorious flight is thattheTowerbe an utterly use- lessmonument.TheTower's inutility has always been obscurely felt to be a scandal,ie, a truth, one thatis precious and inadmissible.

Evenbeforeitwasbuiltitwasblamedfor beinguseless,which, itwas believedat the time, was sufficientto condemn it; itwas notin the spirit of a period commonly dedicatedto rationality and to the empiricism of greatbourgeoisenterprises toendurethenotionofa

useless object(unless itwas declaratively an objet d'art ,

also unthinkablein relationto the Tower); henceGustave Eiffel, in hisowndefenceofhis project in reply totheArtists' Petition,scrupu- lously listsall thefutureuses oftheTower: they are all, as we might

expect ofan engineer, scientificuses: aerodynamicmeasurements, studiesoftheresistanceof substances,physiology ofthe climber, radio-electric research,problems of telecommunication, meteoro- logical observations, etc. These uses are doubtless incontestable, but they seem quite ridiculous alongside the overwhelmingmyth of the Tower, ofthehuman meaning whichithas assumed throughout the world.This is because here the utilitarian excuses, however ennobled theymay be by the myth of science, are nothing in compar- isontothe greatimaginary functionwhichenablesmentobe strictly

human. Yet, as always, the gratuitousmeaning oftheworkis never avowed directly: itis rationalisedundertherubricofuse: Eiffelsaw hisTowerintheformofa serious object,rational,useful; menreturn ittohimintheformofa greatbaroque dreamwhich quitenaturally touchesonthebordersoftheirrational.

itachievesa sovereign circulationbetween

Tower is also

it is

present

on the

to the entire

symbol

globe

of

world.Firstofall as a universal symbol of

world. First of all as a universal

Paris, itis

from the

Paris is to be stated as an

Parisis tobe statedas an image; fromthe

Paris,

everywhere on

everywhere

where

the globe where

image;

Midwest to

Midwestto Australia, thereis no journey

journey

Australia, there is no

name,

no

in

to France which isn't

to Francewhichisn't made,somehow, in

made, somehow,

the Tower's

Schoolbook, poster

theTower's name, no Schoolbook,poster

or filmabout Francewhichfailsto pro-

or film about

pro-

pose

pose

France which fails to

major sign

belongs

to

of a

people

its

it as

itas

the

the majorsign ofa people and

of

and of

a

a

the universal lan-

place: it belongs to the universallan-

place:

it

guage oftravel.Further: beyond its strictly

it touches the most

Parisian statement, it touches the most

Parisian

strictly

guage

of travel. Further:

statement,

human

human

beyond

The

simple,primaryshape confers upon it thevocationofan infinite cipher: inturnand according tothe appeals ofour imagination, the symbol of Paris, of modernity, of communication, ofscienceor of thenineteenth century,rocket,stem,derrick,phallus,lightning rod or insect,confronting the great itinerariesofour dreams, itis the inevitable sign;just as thereis no Parisian glance whichis notcom- pelled toencounter it, thereisno fantasy which fails, sooneror later,

to acknowledge itsformand tobe nourished byit;pickup a pencil and let yourhand, in otherwords yourthoughts,wander, and itis oftenthe Towerwhichwill appear, reduced to that simple line

whosesole mythic functionis to join, as the poetsays, baseandsum- mit or again, earthandheaven.

general

general

its

image-repertoire: its

image-repertoire:

whichwas

,

This pure - virtuallyempty - sign is ineluctable, becauseitmeans

everything . In orderto negate theEiffelTower (though the tempta-

tiontodo so is rare, forthis symbol offends nothing in us),youmust,

like Maupassant,getup on it and, so to speak,identifyyourself with it.Likeman himself, whoisthe only one nottoknowhisown glance, theToweris the only blind point ofthetotal opticalsystem ofwhich itis thecentreand Paristhecircumference.Butin thismovement whichseems to limit it, theTower acquires a new power: an object whenwe lookat it, itbecomesa lookoutin itsturnwhenwevisit it,

124

AAfiles 64

This content downloaded from 66.180.182.80 on Sun, 4 May 2014 10:36:53 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

Thisdoublemovementis a profound one: architectureis always

dreamand function,expression ofa utopia

venience.Even beforethe Tower's birth, the nineteenth century

(especially inAmericaand in England) had oftendreamedofstruc-

tureswhose height wouldbe astonishing, forthe century was given to technologicalfeats, andthe conquest ofthe sky once againpreyed uponhumanity. In 1881,shortly beforethe Tower, a Frencharchitect had elaboratedthe project ofa sun tower; nowthis project,quite mad technologically, sinceitreliedon masonry andnoton steel, also put itselfunderthewarrantofa thoroughlyempiricalutility; on the one hand, a bonfire placed on top ofthestructurewas toilluminate thedarknessof every nookand cranny inParis by a system ofmirrors

(a system thatwas undoubtedly a complexone!), and on the other,

the last storey of this sun tower (about 1,000feet, like the Eiffel

Tower) was to be reservedfora kindof sunroom, inwhichinvalids wouldbenefitfroman air'as pure as inthemountains'.And yet, here as inthecase ofthe Tower, thenaiveutilitarianismofthe enterprise is not separate fromthe oneiric,infinitelypowerful function which, actually,inspires itscreation:use neverdoes anything but shelter meaning. Hencewe mightspeak,amongmen, ofa trueBabel com- plex: Babelwas supposed toservetocommunicatewith God, and yet Babelisa dreamwhichtouchesmuch greaterdepths thanthatofthe

theologicalproject; and just as this great ascensional dream, released fromits utilitarian prop, is finally what remainsin the countlessBabels representedby the painters, as ifthefunctionofart weretorevealthe profound uselessnessof objects,just so the Tower, almost immediatelydisengaged fromthescientificconsiderations whichhad authorisedits birth (it matters very littleherethatthe Towershould be in fact useful), has arisen froma great human dreaminwhichmovableand infinite meanings are mingled: ithas re-conquered the basic uselessnesswhichmakes it livein men's imagination. At first, itwas sought - so paradoxical is thenotionof an empty monument - tomakeitintoa 'temple of science'; butthis

is only a metaphor; as a matterof fact, the Toweris nothing, it achievesa kindofzero degree ofthe monument; it participates inno rite, inno cult, notevenin art;you cannotvisittheToweras a muse- um:thereis nothing tosee insidetheTower.This empty monument neverthelessreceiveseach year twiceas many visitorsas theLouvre and considerably morethanthe largest cinemainParis. do we visit the Eiffel Tower?

and instrumentofa con-

why

in a dream

No doubt in order to

Nodoubtinorderto participate ina dream

of ofwhichit which it is is

muchmorethe crystalliser thanthetrue

than the true

much more the

spectacle;

usual spectacle;

participate

this is

this is

(and

(and

its

its originality)

originality)

crystalliser

usual

object. TheToweris nota

object.

The Tower is not a

to enterthe Tower, to scale it, to run

around its

aroundits courses,is, in a

a

more

to run

to

mannerboth

manner both

enter the

Tower,

to scale

in

it,

courses, is,

more elementary and

elementary

and more

to

more profound, to

profound,

accedetoa viewandto explore theinterior

accede to a view and to

the interior

explore

to

ofan object(though an openworkone), to

of an

transform transformthetouristicriteintoadventure the touristic rite into adventure

object (though

an

openwork one),

of

of sight and

and

sight

of the

ofthe intelligence. It is

intelligence.

this

It is this

Then

briefly, before passing inconclusiontothe majorsymbolic function

ofthe Tower, whichisitsfinal meaning. The Towerlooks at Paris.To visitthe Toweris to get oneself up ontothe balcony in orderto perceive,comprehend and savoura certainessence ofParis.Andhere again, theToweris an original monument. Habitually, belvederesareoutlooks uponnature, whose

double function should like to

double functionI shouldliketo speak of

I

speak

of

AAfiles 64

elements -

thatthetourismofthe'fineview' infalliblyimplies a naturist mythol-

ogy. WhereastheToweroverlooksnotnaturebutthe city; and yet,by its veryposition ofa visited outlook, theTowermakesthe city intoa kindof nature; itconstitutesthe swarming ofmenintoa landscape,

itadds to the frequentlygrim urban myth a romantic dimension, a harmony, a mitigation;byit,starting from it, the cityjoins up with the great naturalthemeswhichare offeredto the curiosity ofmen:

the ocean, the storm, the mountains, the snow, therivers.Tovisitthe Tower,then, istoenterintocontactnotwitha historical Sacred, as is the case forthe majority of monuments, but ratherwitha new nature, thatofhuman space: theToweris nota trace, a souvenir, in shorta culture; butratheran immediate consumption ofa humanity madenatural by that glance whichtransformsitinto space. One mightsay thatforthis reason the Towermaterialisesan imagination whichhas had itsfirst expression in literature (it is fre- quently thefunctionofthe great booksto achievein advancewhat technology will merelyput into execution). The nineteenth century, 50years beforethe Tower,produced indeedtwoworksinwhichthe

(perhapsveryold)fantasy ofa panoramic visionreceivedthe guaran- teeofa majorpoeticwriting{écriture): these are, ontheone hand, the chapter ofNotre-DamedeParis {The Hunchback of Notre Dame) devot- ed toa bird's-eye viewof Paris, and on the other, Michelet'sTableau

chronologique . Now, whatis admirablein thesetwo great inclusive

visions, one of Paris, theotherof France, is that Hugo and Michelet

clearly understoodthatto themarvellous mitigation ofaltitudethe panoramic visionadded an incomparablepower ofintellection: the bird's-eyeview, whicheach visitorto theTowercan assume in an instantforhis own,gives us theworldtoreadandnot only to perceive; thisis why it corresponds toa new sensibility of vision; inthe past, to travel (wemay recallcertain - admirable, moreover -promenades of Rousseau) was to be thrustintothemidstof sensation, to perceive only a kindoftidalwaveof things; the bird's-eyeview, onthe contrary, representedby ourromanticwritersas if they had anticipated both theconstructionoftheTowerandthebirthof aviation,permits us to transcendsensationand to see things intheirstructure. Hence itis the adventof a new perception, of an intellectualist mode, which theseliteraturesand thesearchitecturesofvisionmarkout (born in

the same century and probably fromthe same history): Parisand Francebecome under Hugo's pen and Michelet's (and underthe

glance ofthe Tower) intelligibleobjects,yet without - andthisiswhat is new - losinganything oftheir materiality; a new categoryappears, thatofconcrete abstraction;this,moreover, isthe meaning whichwe can givetoday tothewordstructure:a corpus of intelligent forms. Like Monsieur Jourdain confrontedwith prose,every visitorto theTowermakesstructuralismwithout knowing it (which does not keepprose and structurefrom existing all the same); inParis spread outbeneath him, he spontaneouslydistinguishesseparate - because known - points - and yet does not stop linkingthem,perceiving themwithina great functional space; in short, he separates and groups; Paris offersitselfto him as an object virtuallyprepared,

waters,valleys, forests -

they assemblebeneath them, so

exposed tothe intelligence, butwhichhe musthimselfconstruct by

a final activity ofthemind: nothing less passive thantheoverallview

theTower gives

tourist'smodest glance, has a name: decipherment. What, in fact, is a panorama? An image we attempt to decipher, inwhichwe try to recognise known sites, to identify landmarks.Take someviewofParistakenfromtheEiffel Tower; here you makeout

to Paris.This activity ofthe mind,conveyedby the

125

This content downloaded from 66.180.182.80 on Sun, 4 May 2014 10:36:53 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

thehill sloping downfrom Chaillot, theretheBoisde

whereis theArcde Triomphe? You don't see it, and thisabsence

compelsyou to inspect the panorama once again, to look forthis point whichis missing in yourstructure;yourknowledge(the knowl- edgeyoumay haveofParisian topography)struggles with yourper-

ception, and ina sense, thatiswhat intelligence is:toreconstitute to

make memory and sensation cooperate so as to produce in your minda simulacrumof Paris, ofwhichtheelementsare in frontof you,real,ancestral, butnonethelessdisoriented by thetotal space in which they are given to you, forthis space was unknownto you. Hencewe approach the complex, dialecticalnatureofall panoramic

vision; on theone hand, itis a euphoricvision, foritcan slide slowly,

lightly theentire length ofa continuous image

no

'accident' manages to interrupt this greatlayer ofmineraland vegetalstrata,perceived in thedistanceintheblissof altitude;but, ontheother hand, this verycontinuityengages themindina certain struggle, it seeks to be deciphered, we mustfind signs within it, a familiarityproceeding from history andfrom myth; thisis why a pan- oramacan neverbe consumedas a workof art, theaestheticinterest

ofa paintingceasing oncewe try to recognise in it particularpoints derivedfromour knowledge; to say thatthereis a beauty to Paris stretchedout at thefeetoftheToweris doubtlessto acknowledge this euphoria ofaerialvisionwhich recognisesnothing otherthana nicely connected space; butitis also to maskthe quite intellectual effortofthe eye beforean object which requires to be divided up, identified, reattachedto memory; fortheblissofsensation (nothing happier thana loftyoutlook) does notsufficetoeludethe question- ing natureofthemindbefore anyimage. generally intellectual character of the

of Paris, and initially

Boulogne; but

,

panoramic visionis furtherattested by the

the

panoramic

vision is further attested

by

following phenomenon,

followingphenomenon, which Hugo

Hugo

Michelet had

Michelet had

which

and

and

moreover made

moreovermade into the

into the

mainspring of their bird's-eye views:to

views: to

perceive

of the

to

history; fromthe top ofthe

perceive Paris

to imagine a

mainspring

Paris

imagine

a

of their

history;

bird's-eye

is

from the

top

from above

fromabove is infallibly

infallibly

Tower, themindfindsitself dreaming of

the mutation of the

themutationofthe landscape whichithas

Tower,

of

the mind finds itself

landscape

dreaming

which it has

before its

beforeits eyes;through theastonishment

the astonishment

eyes; through

of

of space, it plunges into the mystery of

of

time, lets

time,

kind

kind

space,

lets

it

plunges

itselfbe

itself be

into the

mystery

by

affected by a

affected

a

This

itselfwhichbecomes panoramic. Letus put ourselvesback (no diffi-

cult task) atthelevelofan averageknowledge, an ordinaryquestion

put tothe panorama of Paris; four great moments immediatelyleap outtoour vision,ie, toourconsciousness.Thefirstis thatof prehis-

tory; Pariswas thencovered by a layer of water, outofwhich

barely

emerged a fewsolid points; seton theTower'sfirst floor, thevisitor wouldhavehad his nose levelwiththewavesand wouldhaveseen only somescattered islets, the Etoile, the Pantheon, a woodedisland

whichwas Montmartreand twobluestakesinthe distance, thetow-

ers of Notre-Dame, thento

slopes ofMont Valérien; and conversely, thetravellerwhochoosesto

put himself today on the heights ofthis eminence, in foggyweather, wouldsee emerging thetwo upperstoreys oftheTowerfroma liquid base; this prehistoric relationoftheTowerand thewaterhas been, so to speak,symbolically maintaineddowntoourown days, forthe Toweris partly builton a thinarmoftheSeinefilledin (up totheRue de l'Université) and itstillseems to risefroma gesture oftheriver

of

of spontaneous anamnesis:itis

spontaneous

anamnesis: it is duration

duration

his left,bordering this huge lake, the

126

whose bridges it guards.

Tower's gaze is theMiddle Ages; Cocteauonce said thattheTower wastheNotre-DameoftheLeft Bank;though thecathedralofParisis notthe highest ofthe city's monuments (theInvalides, thePanthe- on, Sacré-Coeurare higher), itformswiththetowera pair, a symbolic

couple,recognised, so to speak,by tourist folklore, which readily reducesParistoitsTowerand itscathedral:a symbol articulatedon

the opposition ofthe past(the Middle Agesalwaysrepresent a dense time) and the present, of stone, old as the world, and metal,sign of modernity. The thirdmomentthatcan be read fromtheToweris thatofa broad history, undifferentiatedsinceit proceeds fromthe Monarchy tothe Empire, fromtheInvalidestotheArcde Triomphe:

thisis strictly the history of France, as itis experiencedby French schoolchildren, and of which many episodes, present in every schoolboymemory, touchParis.

The second history whichlies beforethe

the Tower surveys a fourth history

of

of

Paris,

Paris, the

the one

one whichis being made

made

which is

being

now; certain modern monuments

monuments

now;

(unesco, theRadio-Télévision building)

(unesco,

certain

modern

the Radio-Télévision

building)

are

are

beginning to

beginning

to set

set

signs ofthefuture

signs

of the future

withinits space;

space;

within its

monising these

monising

stances (glass,metal), thesenew forms,

stances

forms,

withthe stonesand domes ofthe

with the stones and

theTower permits har-

the Tower

har-

permits

unaccommodatedsub-

these unaccommodated sub-

(glass, metal),

in its

these new

domes of the

past;

past;

under the Tower's

Paris, in its duration, undertheTower's

Paris,

gaze, composes itselflike an abstract

itself like an abstract

canvas

canvas in in

whichdark oblongs (derived

oblongs (derived

gaze, composes

duration,

which dark

Finally,

thewhite rectangles ofmodernarchitecture. Once these points of history and of space areestablished by the eye, fromthe top ofthe Tower, the imagination continues filling out theParisian panorama,giving itits structure; butwhattheninter- venesare certainhuman functions; likethedevil Asmodeus,by ris- ing above Paris, thevisitortotheTowerhastheillusionof raising the

enormouslid whichcoversthe private lifeof millionsof human beings; the city then becomes an intimacy whose functions,ie,

whoseconnectionshe deciphers; on the greatpolaraxis,perpendic- ulartothehorizontalcurveofthe river, threezonesstackedoneafter

the other, as thoughalong a pronebody, threefunctionsofhuman

life:atthe top, atthefootof Montmartre,pleasure; Eiffelatthecen- tre, aroundthe Opéra,materiality,business,commerce; towardthe bottom, at thefootofthe Pantheon,knowledge,study;then, to the right and left,enveloping thisvitalaxisliketwo protectivemuffs, two large zones of habitation, one residential, theother blue-collar; still farther, twowooded strips,Boulogne and Vincennes.It has been observedthata kindof very old lawincitescitiesto develop toward the west, inthedirectionofthe settingsun; itis on thissidethatthe wealthofthefine neighbourhoodsproceeds, theeast remaining the siteof poverty; the Tower,by its veryimplantation, seems to follow thismovement discreetly; one mightsay thatit accompanies Parisin thiswestward shift, whichour capital does not escape, and thatit eveninvitesthe city towardits pole of development, tothesouthand to the west, wherethesun is warmer,therebyparticipating in that greatmythic functionwhichmakes everycity intoa livingbeing: nei- therbrainnor organ, situateda little apart fromitsvital zones, the Toweris merely the witness, the gaze which discreetlyfixes, withits

slender signal, thewholestructure -

social - ofParis space. This deciphering of Paris,performedby the

from a

froma very old past) are contiguous with

with

very

old

past)

are

contiguous

geographical,historical, and

AAfiles 64

This content downloaded from 66.180.182.80 on Sun, 4 May 2014 10:36:53 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

Tower's gaze, is not only an actofthe mind, itis also an initiation.To climbtheTowerinorderto contemplate Parisfromitis the equiva- lentofthatfirst journey,by whichthe young manfromthe provinces

went up to Paris, inorderto conquer the city. Atthe age of 12,young Eiffelhimselftookthe diligence from Dijon withhismotheranddis- coveredthe 'magic' ofParis.The city, a kindof superlativecapital,

summons up thatmovementof accession to a superior orderof pleasures, of values, ofartsand luxuries; itisa kindof precious world

ofwhich knowledge makesthe man, marksan entranceintoa

no doubta very

oldone - whichthe trip totheTowerstillallowsus to suggest; forthe touristwhoclimbsthe Tower, howevermildhe maybe, Parislaidout beforehis eyesby an individualand deliberateactof contemplation is still something oftheParis confronted,defied,possessed by Ras- tignac.Hence, ofall thesitesvisited by the foreigner orthe provin-

cial, theToweris thefirst obligatorymonument; itis a gateway, it marksthetransitiontoa knowledge: one mustsacrificetotheTower by a riteofinclusionfrom which,precisely, theParisianalone can excuse himself; theToweris indeedthesitewhichallowsone tobe incorporated intoa race, and when it regardsParis, it is the very

essenceofthe capital it gathersup and proffers tothe foreigner who has paid toithisinitiationaltribute.

lifeof passions and responsibilities; itis this myth -

true

Paris

contemplated, we must now

back toward the Tower

workour way back towardthe Tower

work our

way

itself: the Tower which will live its life as

itself:theTowerwhichwillliveitslifeas

an

an object (beforebeing mobilisedas

tourist, every

symbol). Ordinarily,

symbol).Ordinarily, forthe tourist,every

object (before being

a

mobilised as a

for the

inside forthereis

no visit without the

no visitwithoutthe exploration of an

of an

inside for there is

object is firstofall an

object

is first of all an

, ,

exploration

enclosed space: tovisita church, a muse-

enclosed

a muse-

space:

to visit a

church,

is first of all to shut oneself

um, a palace is firstofall to shutoneself

um,

up, to 'make therounds'ofan interior,

interior,

up,

a a

every

littlein themannerofan owner: every

a

to

palace

'make the rounds' of an

little in the manner of an owner:

this

exploration is an appropriation; this

exploration

is an

appropriation;

From

ver, tothe question raised by theoutside: themonumentis a riddle, to enteritis to solve, to possess it; herewe recognise in thetourist

visitthat initiationalfunctionwe have just invoked apropos of the trip to the Tower; thecohortofvisitorswhichis enclosed by a monumentand processionally followsitsinternalmeandersbefore

coming

accede totheinitiate's status, is obliged totraversea darkand unfa- miliarroutewithinthe initiatory edifice.In the religiousprotocol as

in thetourist enterprise,being enclosed is thereforea functionof therite. Here,too, theToweris a paradoxicalobject: one cannotbe shut up withinit since whatdefinestheToweris its longitudinal formand its open structure:Howcan you be enclosedwithin empti- ness, howcan you visita line?Yet incontestably theTowerisvisited:

we linger within it, before using itas an observatory. Whatis hap- pening? What becomes of the greatexploratory functionof the

insidewhen it is applied to

which might be saidtoconsist entirely ofan exteriorsubstance? Inordertounderstandhowthemodernvisitor adapts himselfto the paradoxical monumentwhichis offeredtohis imagination, we need merely observewhattheTower giveshim, insofaras one sees in itan object and no longer a lookout.On this point, theTower's provisions are of twokinds.The firstis of a technical order; the

Toweroffersfor consumption a certainnumberof performances,

tourof the inside corresponds, moreo-

moreo-

tour of

the inside

corresponds,

back outside is quite like the neophytewho, in orderto

this empty and depthless monument

AAfiles 64

or, if one prefers, of paradoxes, and the visitorthen becomes an engineerbyproxy; these are, firstof all, thefour bases, and espe-

cially(forenormity does not astonish) the exaggeratedlyoblique insertionofthemetal pillars in themineral mass; this obliquity is curiousinsofaras it gives birthtoan uprightform, whose very verti- cality absorbs its departure in slantingforms, and herethereis a kindof agreeablechallenge forthe visitor; thencomethe elevators,

quite surprisingby their obliquity, forthe ordinaryimagination requires thatwhatrises mechanically slide along a vertical axis; and for anyone whotakesthe stairs, thereis the enlargedspectacle ofall the details,plates,beams, bolts, whichmake the Tower, the sur- prise of seeing how this rectilinear form, whichis consumed in every cornerofParisas a pureline, is composed ofcountless seg- ments,interlinked,crossed,divergent: an operation of reducing an appearance(the straight line) to its contraryreality(a laceworkof broken substances), a kindof démystificationprovidedbysimple enlargement ofthelevelof perception, as in those photographs in whichthecurveofa face,byenlargement,appears tobe formedof

a thousand tinysquares variously illuminated.Thus the Tower-

as-object furnishesits observer,provided heinsinuateshimselfinto it, a whole series of paradoxes, the delectablecontractionof an

appearance and ofits contraryreality. Tower's second

object,

that,despite itstechnical singularity, it

that, despite

its technical

it

provision, as an

a

is

is

singularity,

world';

constitutes familiar 'little

constitutesa familiar'little world'; from

from

the

the groundlevel, a

a

ground level,

whole humble com-

whole humble com-

merce

merce accompanies

accompanies

dorsof postcards,souvenirs,knickknacks,

dors of

postcards, souvenirs, knickknacks,

its

its

ven-

departure: ven-

departure:

balloons,toys,sunglasses, heralda

balloons, toys, sunglasses,

com-

herald a com-

mercial life which we

mercial life which we

rediscoverthor-

rediscover thor-

Now

oughly installedonthefirst platform. Now

oughly

installed on the first

platform.

any commercehas

commerce has

any

tion;selling,buying,exchanging - itis by

by

tion; selling, buying, exchanging

func-

a

a space-taming func-

space-taming

-

it is

dom-

these simplegestures thatmen truly dom-

these

simple gestures

that men

truly

The

constructions.The myth ofthe moneylenders drivenoutofthetem- ple is actually an ambiguousone, forsuch commercetestifiesto a

kindofaffectionate familiarity with rega