I had an odd convergence this weekend. I hadn't planned this, but I read a graphic novel and watched a movie that both dealt with roughly the same time, place and characters. Kiki De Montparnasse is a fictionalized biographic graphic novel about a famous model and socialite in Paris in the 1920's, who was immortalized by the photographer Man Ray in his photo Le Violon D'Ingres. While Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris, portrays a young screenwriter, played by Owen Wilson, who considers his impending marriage and a wishful career as a novelist while on vacation in Paris. In typical Woody Allen style, he gets swept off (in his imagination or not, it doesn't matter) to the Moveable Feast of an idealized1920's Paris.
I felt a little like Owen Wilson's character myself, unprepared, but pleasantly surprised to find myself spending the weekend with golden shadows and line drawings of Ernest Hemingway, Man Ray, Pablo Picasso, Cole Porter, F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein, Salvador Dali, Jean Cocteau, Luis Bunuel, before a backdrop of surrealists, bohemians, all at the epicenter that was Paris of the time.
Now, I've never been to Paris, and I've never been particularly nostalgic about the time, but as a working writer I can't suppress my envy of those who got to experience such a nexus of creative energy. A nexus that treated literature and art as serious concrete things that had the power to shape the world. A nexus that dared itself to challenge convention, brave boundaries, and shatter norms in almost every medium.
Can I do as much in my basement office or in the various coffee shops of Billings, MT? There's only one way to find out. Who's with me?