Written by – Pilar Pedrinelli
Translation by – Julia Perry
“Louvre, many stop to snap but few stay to focus”. Black on white, Michael Kimmelman for the New York Times, informs us that not one visitor, this year, has paused more than a minute in front of a work of art, a maximum of twenty seconds on average to be exact.
To me, today started as one of those days on which I decided to stop thinking and sit with eyes turned toward the sky, that with a bit of luck, by nighttime would have hosted a few stars. When articles like this, however, become part of my day, this simple desire becomes an unavoidable privilege.
A few years ago, precisely at the Louvre, in front of the Mona Lisa, I happened to be moving back and forth to see if Da Vinci’s perspective could also charm me. A lady watched me in an inquisitive manner for a while before finally deciding to ask: “Pardonnez-moi, qu’est-ce que vous faites?” “What do you mean what am I doing, the Mona Lisa scrutinizes you, follows you, and can be fooled only by closing your eyes, which honestly isn’t even too fair. Didn’t you notice?” No, she hadn’t noticed, she didn’t understand, but neither would I have if it hadn’t been for a man who stopped before me, who actually had understood. Most came, looked at those strokes of mystery through a mobile phone or a camera, snapped a photo or two, and without having actually seen anything, they left, because for their technical device, camera or phone, they had seen it all. Two hours and done, ready to leave those sixty thousand square meters of showrooms, already headed towards the Eiffel Tower, because as it is known, the answer to the question “what did you see in Paris?” can’t simply be answered with “I saw an elderly couple at an old café, still smiling at each other.”
That article made me reflect to the point of asking myself, are we still capable of simply observing? I’ve even asked myself back in Milan, a few months ago, when I met a homeless man that asked for money in exchange for one of his poems. That day I gave him 2 euro, that I knew, wouldn’t have changed his day by much, but in return, without him knowing how much he had changed my day, even my entire week. And what if we had seen him before, writing for enjoyment and not in the middle of the street? At a time when we could have really made a difference in his day?
Then we have the news, with its catastrophic information on a world that’s now going to hell. It’s true, this news attracts more and is more ‘real’, but for once, I would like to hear about something different, someone’s promise, one of those exciting promises, like a marriage proposal done on a flight to London, with hostesses as witnesses. Instead, it just so happens that I only end up hearing these kinds of stories by pure incident, when on the metro, when it’s obviously my stop and I have to get off the train. Why, for once, can I not stay on the coach to know the end of the story?
We’re always in a hurry, and I’m no exception, eyes stuck to the phone screen, always running to some place or to someone for plans, that sometimes, we had even forgotten we had. Stenhal, today, wouldn’t have even had the time to faint, because, even having to go to the hospital would have upset his agenda. Will it ever be enough? Will those twenty seconds ever be enough for us to say we spent enough time observing for the day? It’s certainly easier, because actually observing takes time and observing for long enough brings to suffering, so it is better to just stop for a few seconds with a fugitive glance, because in the end, it doesn’t lead to overthinking, and therefore, less implications. But it’s just so nice to be able to see the different smiles of a person, and to see even the slightest changes, something that can’t be learned in a matter of seconds.
After the questions, anyway, if I can, I like to try and give an answer. And my answer is, that, despite the prior commitments and this non-stop spinning world, for some reason, people always seem to prefer the window seat.