All posts tagged: February 2021

Delusions of Grandeur


There is something post-decadent about Versailles in winter. The fountains are off; there are not many tourists. Everything is still fiercely geometric and over-the-top, but in this gray, expired kind of way, at least for most of the day; sunset, and the crisp, clear chill of nighttime being the exceptions. Most of the sculptures are covered with tarps, and tertiary destinations like the amphitheater and “outdoor living room” are gated off entirely. As at all times of year, there is remarkably little furniture, the bulk of it having been moved to the Louvre in the name of égalité. I spent the first five years of my career working in grand museums, and this has always been one of my favorite things about them: that they are bastions of opulence that seem morally defensible, inclusive and elite at once. Because Versailles too is now a museum, the awesomeness of its grandeur has been contextualized into an argument against itself, its ostentation forgiven as a public good. At moments it feels almost Soviet, and you can’t help but be reminded that if you trace the political spectrum far enough left or right you end up in effectively the same place. 

Delusions of Grandeur

The Language of the Body


Image of tents in a Bedouin-style camp at the Wadi Rum desert in southern Jordan

Tents in a Bedouin-style camp at the Wadi Rum desert in southern Jordan. Courtesy: Soraya Ghezelbash.

Wadi Rum, Jordan
for Yvonne


We pull the black of Rum over our eyes
like skin. God’s earth is vast, vast, vast—but by day

she wrapped her limbs around my limbs and drew
my air. I follow her into the dark, consider saying: Please,

I don’t know what you need—but all I see is red.
At the foot of the dunes I push her, soft as the sin

that tips the scale. I run away like a ghost, a demon, a silent drum
in the faultless dark. Not a quiver of light around my bones.

The Language of the Body