El meridià de París
After the critical acclaim of his previous essays, Lluís Calvo presents a work based on the first meridian. Crossing the French capital city, it drew a cartographic axis that crossed through Europe from North to South and continued through the African continent; that is why it was generally known as the Paris meridian. However, it was the Greenwich meridian which was adopted as the universal reference. Building on this historical tidbit, Lluís Calvo becomes an explaining machine, as he develops a remarkable effort of geographical irony at the expense of the straight line. Through 157 pages, divided in 7 chapters, he wanders about the traumas and scars that the different ways of conceiving space have left in our history. A line that passes through the very foundations of our culture: from the French Revolution to Occitan monks, from the fleeing of Republican fighters to the legend of the Comte Arnau, from the Roca Village shopping centre to the art of Pierre Soulages, Joan Ponç and Jean-Luc Godard. And also from Titus Livius to Tiqqun, from Maragall to Baudelaire. And, of course, Paris. The roguish and resistant Paris of the republic of artists and criminals that was Montmartre, of the spiritual dissidence —and, at the same time, the flagship of progress and modernity.
The book is presented with an initial poem by Calvo himself, a closing poem by Jaume Pons Alorda and a lenghty epilogue by Francesc Gelonch, where he goes over Calvo’s theses and interacts with them. In Gelonch’s words, in El meridià “there is an encouragement or exhortation to an interrelation that is impossible, but necessary. In fact, Calvo, giving in to probing and examining on the spot the incommunicating vessels that a simple straight line unites, undertakes a very Romantic operation, which consists in making the landscape appear. Each of these conceptual ruins and irreconcilable tensions have the particularity that they can be strolled through, and the author gives testimony of them. Hence why the most cunning, intelligent, refined or perverse moments of El meridià de París are, perhaps, the moments when it places its focus on actual people, on the journey that becomes landscape, and on the abstract space that becomes a proper place”.