Monday, November 26, 2007


Sometimes the news makes you feel good. For instance:

Undercover restorers fix Paris landmark's clock
'Cultural guerrillas' cleared of lawbreaking over secret workshop in Pantheon
Emilie Boyer King in Paris
Monday November 26, 2007
The Guardian

Four members of an underground "cultural guerrilla" movement known as the Untergunther, whose purpose is to restore France's cultural heritage, were cleared on Friday of breaking into the 18th-century monument in a plot worthy of Dan Brown or Umberto Eco.

Under the supervision of group member Jean-Baptiste Viot, a professional clockmaker, they pieced apart and repaired the antique clock that had been left to rust in the building since the 1960s.

"When we had finished the repairs, we had a big debate on whether we should let the Panthéon's officials know or not," said Lazar Klausmann, a spokesperson for the Untergunther. "We decided to tell them in the end so that they would know to wind the clock up so it would still work."

Klausmann and his crew are connoisseurs of the Parisian underworld. Since the 1990s they have restored crypts, staged readings and plays in monuments at night, and organised rock concerts in quarries. The network was unknown to the authorities until 2004, when the police discovered an underground cinema, complete with bar and restaurant, under the Seine.

"We would like to be able to replace the state in the areas it is incompetent," said Klausmann. "But our means are limited and we can only do a fraction of what needs to be done. There's so much to do in Paris that we won't manage in our lifetime."
Addendum: I've been reading John Gray lately. Not the Mars and Venus guy, but the guy who has activated Isaiah Berlin's philosophy (willy-nilly). Gray might not approve of UX, but he should. The Times (UK) has a readable introduction to himself and his thought. Other sources: wikipedia, Granta, NYRB, The Guardian, publications list.

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