With poet-geologist Jonathan Wonham
-author Gilles Thomas
, I took a 10-hr walk under Paris, in the quarries where the architects of Place François 1er perhaps mined the "gray stone cleanly cut and put together in complementary masses” that Williams admired during his Paris hangover
. There, 20 meters under the surface of the city, we found German bunkers, bone piles from Montparnasse
, punk crash pads, catacomb art, defunct phone cables, a scrabble game abandoned by gnomes, beer can lanterns, and inscriptions dating back to the French revolution . . . when they started to realize that the mining that was done under the city was making the city cave in. Accordingly, most of the tunnels consist of supports at regular intervals which serve to keep whole city blocks from collapsing. Jonathan thought it would be appropriate to read Williams’ geological-cross section passage down in the depths, and so, we staged a group performance with fellow travelers to liven things up. We later found a room with a geological cabinet of curiosities, where each step carved into the stone would have at one time displayed a sample from each geological level, in much the same way that Williams' arrays the strata of the Passaic.
Labels: drift adventure, geology, Gilles Thomas, Jonathan Wonham, Paris, underground