They don’t know what they don’t know, until they find out they don’t know it.*
A deep life is a good life.**
Georges Perec spent three days in October 1974 exhausting all he could see in a place in Paris.
He wasn’t focusing on the buildings and monuments as a tourist would, but what around and between these:
A 96 goes by. An 87 passes by. An 86 passes by. A 70 passes by. A “Grenelle Interline” truck passes by. Lull. There is no one at the bus stop.
A 63 passes by. A 96 passes by.
A young woman is sitting on a bench, facing “La demure” tapestry gallery; she is smoking a cigarette.
There are three mopeds parked on the sidewalk in front of the café.^
Even so, I can only imagine Perec missed many things, including days four, five and six. And what if I were to replicate his experiment today?
There is so much to be observed and Perec captured these three days in such a way so that I am able to see what he was seeing almost forty eight years later.
We may not want to spend three days observing a public space in the town or city where we live, but Perec’s experiment is valuable providing the basic means and practice to be open to where we are: a situation we inhabit, a person we meet, a problem that challenges us.