Inspiration and opera

Alvaro Michael
June 22, 2017

I do realize that I haven’t written in this blog for a long time. I was planning to continue the last entry with a part two talking about the rest of the days of my first week, but that’s fallen through.

Nevertheless, Paris enlightens me. Truly, ever since I got here, I feel like my brain is changing into something much more intelligent and much more inquisitive. Long before Paris, I think I had lost my sense of curiosity for the world as classes became more intense and the time to think and wonder dwindled. I took too much for granted, because that was the practical thing to do. I’m speaking in abstractions a bit, but the point is that now, all of a sudden I am fascinated by everything here, wondering how these building got there. The questions of how and why things came about is much more conscious in the French mind, I believe, because of the importance they place on their history, particularly here in Paris.

For example, I have become obsessed with Gothic architecture. The Notre-Dame, oh the Notre-Dame de Paris! The scale of the cathedral is incomprehensible – in order to truly get a sense of the size, you have to look up at it from the outside, and then enter and look up from the inside. Massive columns connected together by vast ribs. Vivid rose windows preserved from centuries ago. Flying buttresses pressed to the walls, and spires jutting up toward heaven. And the question running through my mind as I witness this vast accomplishment in architecture is of course: How did they build it?

Think about that. This is at a time when people had much less to go on than what we have today. Today we design with computer models and advanced techniques; we have no trouble lifting massive construction materials because our cranes do all that for us. But in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, people were much, much more limited. And yet they were able to conceptualize a building that they somehow knew would not tumble to the ground one they built it. They were able to lift huge stones up huge distances. Everything managed to come together perfectly, and the result still exists today on the Ile de la Cité. If you think hard about the sheer force of their determination, you can’t help but gasp. At least, I can’t help but gasp.

Yesterday I went to the opera, the famous one, the big one, the Opéra de Paris. I was so excited! Ever since a Parisian friend of mine showed it to me up close, I’ve been dying to go, to see a real opera there. I received my ticket for free from the IES Abroad Center. Inside, the opera house is full of gold! Definitely seventeenth century. My seat was up on the fourth balcony, and I noticed two things. The first is that it was hot up there. Europe has been undergoing a horrific heat wave, so even in the evening, it is stifling in that opera. But such is life – AC is not too common around here. The second thing was the seats themselves – ridiculous! I felt like someone was jamming their knee into my back. And there wasn’t enough leg room at all. American Airlines goes to the opera. Maybe there’s so little space because people way back then tended to be shorter than we are today. But why they created the seats such that they would deform the human body is something I will never know. Still, fantastic opera. Really well done. Now I have the experience.

That’s all I’m going to write for now.

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Alvaro Michael

<p>I&#39;m going to be a junior at Indiana University, where I will eventually, definitely, probably major in computer science. Despite such a technical degree, there is a lot outside of that sphere that interests me as well. I love to write and am trying to get good at fiction; I enjoy playing the bassoon (but I loathe practicing); lately I&#39;ve been getting into epistemology (i.e. How can we know anything?); and I also like acting and hope to produce or star in a movie some day...some day. Ah, and yes, I love speaking French!</p>

2017 Summer 1, 2017 Summer 2
Home University:
Indiana University
Computer Science
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