2021/12/25

Behind the "City Of Light"

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City Of Light book cover
click to enlarge image
When I started to write this series in the first place, monochrome book cover as well as the drawing inside was my key design preference, plus…one book in a reverse of white on black. Originally I thought I will use this theme in book Six - Hear Me; but it seems the content was not appropriate and I didn’t want all those “voices” that needed to be heard fell into the “dark”. So I pended the idea until this one, which is good fit as I think.

City of Light - another name of Paris, we usually think maybe this is related to the prosperity and prestige of the luxurious life style in this city; or at least we will link to the stunning night scene along Champs Élysée or light show at the Tower Eiffel, right? 

But it actually represents the evolution period of having gas street lamp in the first large European City, in a massive scale, that light up most of the dark rue/ alley. The original idea of King Louis XIV who appointed lieutenant Gabriel Nicolas de la Reynie to make Paris into a safe city, it was started by gas lanterns and candles then gradually gas street light, forming the “La Ville Lumière” or so call “Age of the Enlightenment” since 1829. I can imagine the excitement of Parisians when the lighting up of Rue de Rivoli, Place Vendôme, Place du Carrousel and other grand boulevards by almost 56000 gas lamps in 1860s.


Yellowish street lamp in front of a church in Paris
We can still see a lot of beautiful gas lamps located at the streets and bridges along the Seine, I think no one will forget how stunning the night scene they are. But time flies, you may discover (as what I’ve seen) some, may be most of the gas lamps had already been replaced by LED light bulb inside those antique art like lamp shade, even though the warm yellowish tone remains, I guess it’s a bit difference to those in the good old days. 
 
Hong Kong had a lot of gas street lamps also, long time ago, but gradually reduced and only 4 left in Central along the staircase in Duddell Street (since 1922), I did remember what it looks like when lit up, moody & wordless romantic.  No matter how, we are living in the 21th Century, nothing can last forever except memories.

In fact, there is also another meaning for “The Age of Enlightenment” which is very meaningful. From 17th to 18th Century, there was the intellectual & philosophical movement that dominated in European, people aware sovereignty of reason, the ideals of separation of church & state, of having a constitutional government, liberty, fraternity, equality…as well as the pursuit of happiness; that every mankind deserves. Hope for the future, become one of the core meaning, too.

The happening of all these new thoughts did relate to the emerged of philosophers, scientists, artists, literati who widely spread or discussed these ideas in café, salons or scientific academies…, etc; a truly flourishing moment, I shall say. 

When I have finished my research, I know this book could mean more than only the scenery or a specific period in Paris, so I’ve decided to write for someone who need a spark of light, those who deserve to pursuit of their happiness as we do.





2021/12/10

Day to Night

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Another beauty that I found in Paris at night when my new friend Li, she guided me to walk through some streets at night after dinner, not many people on the street, may be they were still in the bistro, at home or in the restaurant enjoying their meal.

We were in the 1st arrondissement, a bit quiet at around 2130, yellowish street lamps, light up artistic display in the window showcase of shops; yellowish pendants line up at the pillars next to the squares, café & restaurant covered in orange yellow sheer of light, fainted yellow lamps at the balconies/ windows of somewhere above; other color in green lit signage of the pharmacy, the lonely tri-color traffic lamp together with the “ever glow” gas lamp along the Seine…all under the deepest dark sky. 

I am obsess, I know, another page I can write for what I’ve seen in the City of Light, because at that moment, they all belongs to me, the moment of imagination, the happenings under the light…I wish I can return some day, for another night adventure, another series dedicate to the City of Light.

Back to our walk, Li asked me whether I felt unsafe on the street at night right now, as she never felt that even walking alone at late night…well, I replied “I’m fine…” and after a while, we separated in the midpoint between her apartment & my hotel, and there was still another 20mins walk by myself.

light up street view in the evening of the first arrondissement in Paris

“I’m fine…” because, I have a companion; we are in the safest arrondissement of where Banque de France (Central bank of France) is located; we are on the main streets, I have nothing in my pocket except a credit card and a old mobile phone, I know my destination not far away…a different feeling to a moment when I was alone in an alley of Le Marais on the other day, even it’s only began to turn dark.

Banque De France
So, I make a conclusion to myself, there are environmental conditions that may affect our safety concern, the peaceful mind we can have include two other critical issues - companion and a known destination, that light up on the way as well as the small dark room inside us.