dimecres, d’agost 10, 2005

Rainbow Tour 2005 Travel Log - Day 7 - Wednesday 7.13.05

Di Merc'her, ha tomm tomm eo e Raozhon...

Wednesday, and the weather continued to be hot. It's been hot all week, and there seems no let up in the weather; thankfully I brought plenty of water to class, stopping each day and getting a big 2 litre bottle to bring to class. It is hard to work in the heat, and as is well documented, much of France is ill equipped to deal with extreme warmth.

The events of the day were in general little changed from the others, except today I chose to lob one of my famous impertinent questions. During the afternoon coffee break, when a welcome albeit warm breeze was blowing in through the big jalousied windows facing straed Pierre Martin, I chose to ask the assembled company, all the staff and the students, whether they felt Breton and then French, French then Breton, just French or just Breton, and I used the example of Wales, and compared it to what I had already observed on previous trips to Brittany as well as my shock at the treatment of the Musée de Bretagne.

The vast majority of the students said little, but those who did basically said, "Ça dépend de la personne," but no one was willing to answer the question directly, all evidently feeling the weight of the Republic on their shoulders. The teachers likewise were fairly middling, although Fañch did his best to explain the various possible points of view.

On the way back to class one of the students came up to me privately and confided that he felt Breton, first and foremost, but he said it quietly and went on his way back to class. Fañch was our teacher for the afternoon, and we continued the conversation as we began the session. He too was resistant to express his opinion openly, and even though he did work to explain to us the current fragmented political situation in Brittany, I too was left feeling the weight of the Republic. Equality, Freedom and Brotherhood notwithstanding, it was obvious that Brittany was not just a subjugated realm now a part of modern and liberal laic state, rather it is country where its people do not feel free to speak their beliefs without fear of reprisal from the government, without fear of being labled a terrorist or a separatist even they even so much as support cultural initiatives.

It is true that France has come a long way in the past ten years in respects to its minority cultures, but it's also true that not enough progress has been made, and his heavy handed approach from the central government in Paris is still a major contributing factor to the continued moribundity of the Breton language.

That evening Sam, Raja and I journeyed on Rennes' only subway line from the SNCF to Liberté, and the metro station in the middle of the old city. Rennes is a very ancient city, and at its heart is a late medieval city scape, with many waddle work buildings lining narrow streets. It is an ancient an beatiful city, by large combining four main architectural periods, the late medieval, 17th century classical French, 19th century Hausmanien with its mansards, and the modern and post modern exemplified by the SNCF, the Ibis and the the metro. The metro is totally automated, from ticket sales to the piloting of the cars. What's fun about the Rennes metro is that you can sit at the front of the train and watch as the tunnel "comes toward you" as their is not engineer to encomber your view. The stations themsevles are vast - cavernous is an excellent way to describe them - they are also clean, well lit and easy to navigate. Currently therer is only one line on the metro, but it hits all the right spots, and during peak hours trains arrive every 4 minutes.

The irony of many place names in Rennes should not escape the devotee of cruel jokes. Many of the city's place names refer to the Revolution, yet Brittany was by far and wide pro-monarchy, not because they necessarily loved the king of France, but because in their world the king of France generally left them alone, and until 1789, Brittany was a semi-autonomous duchy. Such freedom as Breton speaking Brittany had before the first Revolution was without a doubt greater than what it had after the constitution of the most recent Republic ratified in 1952. Article 2 of that constitution clearly states that language of the Republic will be French. Full stop.

From Liberté the three of us wandered north up a small street and stopped at a Lebanese place for supper. Then we crossed eastward to the Thabor for an evening in the park. During the summer, the city was running "Les mecredis du Thabor" in which local Breton folk artists and organizations put on shows. I staid until the sun was nearly set around 10:00 and then made my way back to Liberté and on to the Ibis where I revised and caugh up on journalling, preparing to blog these all when I got home.

And yet this night, as I write in my travel diary, I am haunted by the world I left behind a week before. I was anxious before beginning this trip, not just because it was going to be nearly five weeks long, but because I was in the process of buying an investment property, and just during the week before someone walked into my world and began monkeying with my heart, making me feel things I thought I couldn't anymore. It was a great week being held tenderly and warmly and I was sad to leave him behind, and now, as I prepare to sleep in this hotel room, 3,000 miles from his embrace, and I wonder if I shouldn't have staid at home and perhaps found requiting for a desire so long and tightly held it all but suffocated in my hands. As I close this night, I must admit, the theme of this Rainbow Tour is "Internal Conflict." Worse still, the time alone at night gives me far too much time to think, to imagine, to hope. Yet once again, I damn the very name of Pandora and her fucking box.