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e-flux conversations

An Open Letter to Clifford Irving

Paris, 19.6.2009

Subject: Clifford Irving Show

Dear Clifford Irving,

No matter how familiar Paris feels—and after all this time there are days in which its monotonous, elegant beige-stone skin fits like a kid glove—I still always manage to lose my bearings in the coiled and cobbled inclines of Montmartre. Since I landed in this city fifteen years ago, I’ve lived alone in a cramped and dim illegal sublet a minute’s walk from the red-light district Pigalle. Despite my geographical proximity to the hilltop neighborhood just north of here, there was a time I never ventured further than my late-night tobacconist on the Boulevard de Clichy. I frequented that particular tobacconist because his is the nearest of three local shops to a pitiful, barren plinth that once hosted a statue of Charles Fourier (1772–1837). During the Nazi Occupation of France (1940–1944), poor, utopian Charles, like so many of his bronze compatriots, became bitter metallic grist for the war mill.

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