Monday, August 27, 2007

Small party at the airfield

Yesterday I went for a walk, as I often do, on the heights of the city, in the fields, near the airfield. I was shocked, more shocked, I mean, than just astonished, to see that the airfield was so crowded – it was obviously an open house or something like that. Whole families were wandering the runways, hangars and various barracks – including, of course, the airfield's absolutely packed bistro. Under the beautiful afternoon sun, it was an almost dreamlike scene, so unexpected was it; I have never seen the airfield as deserted, only the continuous roar of the engines in the sky, which accompanied my entire childhood, suggesting that it is still in activity. I entered the bistro, there were people chatting, drinking, laughing, even in the kitchens and even in the toilets - and I came face to face, one after the other, with my father, whom I hadn't seen for a while, and with Pierre and his mother, already a bit tipsy. I accepted a glass of cheap Champagne, offered by one of the waitresses who was walking around, painfully, with a tray. The impression of dreaming did not dissipate, on the contrary it was stronger and stronger.

While writing all this I think back to the reflection I had made to myself one day while hiking in the forest in the Northern Vosges: what if, at the end of this path, of this hard climb, on which I find myself alone, in the half-light of the forest, surrounded by fir trees and immense sandstone rocks, I came upon an inn, a bright, joyful, welcoming, noisy place, rather than on other kilometers of forest, dark, silent, indifferent, inhuman? The irruption of life, of light, of celebration, in a setting usually deserted and « dead », provokes something that goes beyond, as I said, simple astonishment. It is as if the world - which naturally goes towards death, silence, darkness, emptiness – suddenly reversed its tendency and that life reappeared in all its strength. And when, in addition, one finds relatives and friends there, in the midst of laughter and libations, it is like a glimpse of Heaven.

Saturday, July 28, 2007


Yesterday I thought about a school trip I took when I was about sixteen or seventeen. I was in high school. We went by bus as usual. I can't remember what we were going to visit or where exactly; it was some kind of eco-museum in Germany. Near Freiburg perhaps? I know I visited that town at the time, although I can't remember what it was.

We drove through a huge, endless forest; it seems to me now that we spent hours there. It was as if this forest was the end of the world and a border with... something else.

Then there were fields; a straight plain, which seemed equally endless. The eco-museum stood there, a group of about ten wooden houses, obviously centuries old, which could be visited and where everyday objects from the old days were displayed. Naturally, no one lived there any more. It seemed to me a huge waste: why not take advantage of such a living environment and settle there?

I left the place a bit mixed, happy to have seen beautiful things but frustrated to know that I would never live in such a setting, and that no one here would either. Contemporary architecture, functionalist and rejecting the very idea of Beauty, has always repulsed me. The visit was over, my comrades and I had free time to buy postcards and other goods in the souvenir shop; with a friend I had decided to go away and explore the surroundings. The fields continued up to a very steep drop, I won't call it a ravine, as it wasn't a steep drop, but you had to take metal stairs embedded in the rock to get down.

The path led to a small wood of widely spaced birch trees which in turn, after a hundred metres or so, led to another village, exactly the same as the first, except that it was inhabited. It looked like those ridiculous folklore shows on German television, which we used to watch in my parents' house, as we lived near the border. The typical clothes, the rural setting, the general impression of being in an eternal, archetypal Germany, where time has stopped... 

Discovering this hidden, unsuspected human community, this living Hinterland, which secretly survives away from the modern world, which does everything the opposite of what seems reasonable and desirable for ordinary people, was an extremely strong, extremely moving experience for me. I also realised that what is sometimes taken for an absolute exception and a vestige (the ecomuseum) turns out to be only one element of an unsuspected, very real and very alive whole.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

14th of July

I remember one July 14th, a long time ago; I was between 20 and 23 years old, since it was when I was in university. I was spending my summer vacations driving around the region, alone, running away or on the contrary looking for something I would have been able to name. But on that July 14th, I wasn't driving at random; I had an appointment with my parents, who had invited me to a meal with them at the home of people I didn't know at all and who lived in a lost village in the Meuse; the kind of village you have no chance to hear about if you have nothing to do there. It was, as is often the case in Lorraine villages, a single street, lined with old, low, adjoining farmhouses. An impression of dilapidation and poverty emanated from it. There was absolutely no car traffic – it was half past noon – and not a single passer-by could be seen in the street. Towards the end of the commune, for a few hundred meters, the old houses gave way to more recent pavilions, more spaced out, separated by lawns and hedges or fences. There too, no sign of life. No noise, no movement. The whole village, I had noted in passing, was given over to the harsh rays of the sun, since no trees were planted along the road. There was no forest in the distance either, nor any pleasant or picturesque scenery; only the plain, quite flat, and endless. All this gave a depressing impression of nakedness. I had forgotten the address where I was supposed to go, and after parking at random, I had spent a good twenty minutes walking through the village from beginning to end, two or three times – until my mother, probably seeing me through a window, came out of a house. That house was nicely decorated, warm, and had a family that was obviously quite well-to-do, but not a "nouveau riche" family. Many other inhabitants of the village were there; obviously, here, the notion of community was still a reality, it was not at all a dormitory village. I had been quickly slipped a glass of champagne in my hand (but who really celebrates the 14th of July, by the way? who were these people for whom all this still makes sense?) and I had finally spent a pleasant day, telling myself that if nature likes to hide, so does social life, community life; the countryside is perhaps not as dead and anonymous as one thinks when one crosses it as a stranger. They simply protect themselves from us.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Ruins garden

Last night's dream: I visit some ruins with a man I was supposed to work with on a building site or something.

He was probably the surveyor from the land registry with whom I had worked for a month as a young man to earn some money. I've forgotten his name, and to tell the truth, his face too. We spent our days in the car, going from building site to building site, in all the suburban areas under construction that were gradually encircling my town. We spoke very little, we just took measurements. We didn't believe anyone. It was a peaceful job, quite physical but restful for the mind.

In this dream, then, we arrive at the place where we have to work and I point out some old and abandoned houses, telling him that it drives me crazy to see these houses, once inhabited by the first citizens of this place (which place? I don't remember), now in this state. As you go on, there are only ruins, more and more gigantic – partly broken domes, remains of multi-storey walls, etc. Or, on the other hand, we see below us, in the incredibly deep foundations of future buildings, the underground floors of ancient buildings that have now been uncovered - remains of swimming pools, assemblies and arenas, terraced gardens. It's stunning and dizzying.

There's not much difference, in the mind's eye, I suppose, between a construction site and a garden of ruins – apart from some scaffolding.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Sinister joy

I remember a bike ride with my family when I was a teenager in strange, dark autumn weather. The kind of weather that should be depressing but actually produces the opposite effect; a kind of sinister joy. My father and I had stopped at a village pub to wait for my mother and sister, who were lost on the way. The silence was almost total. No one was passing by. I was fascinated by this silence and this peace, under this heavy and grey sky, which appeared to me then as the sky that suited our region, our "race", for reasons that I was still unable to formulate.


Over the years, I have travelled a lot through the same valley, following the river and the villages that lived on its banks. Sometimes on foot, but most often on bicycle. I dreamt a lot about it, too - and the places, and the bikes. Sometimes in my dreams we were large groups of cyclists, a real community, going further and further into this forgotten, peaceful, unspoilt rural area, at the very end of which was and still is a Gallo-Roman thermal town whose ruins can be visited. So it was a journey through space and time; leaving the town behind, pedalling with all one's might towards the past, towards the origins, under a grey, stormy sky, electric like a brain buzzing with memories that want to come to the surface of the consciousness.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Night routes

For a few months, when I was about thirty years old, I had a curious habit, born from anxiety, insomnia and loneliness; that of making many trips by car, at night, driving at random in the countryside, with a destination chosen at random but always far away and still unknown, with the very precise aim of feeling lost, of feeling far away, of feeling in the middle of nowhere, alone, in the darkness and the cold light of the moon, driving towards a place where nobody was waiting for me and where I had nothing to do.

Now that I think about it, maybe it was a way to act out what was my situation in life in general, and in a way to mimic it: being alone, being lost, being in the dark. Moving towards an unknown and hazardous goal, which I knew in advance I would not find.

Saturday, May 12, 2007


When I was about thirty years old, not long before I lost my mother, I had undertaken with my sister and her a visit of the places where our family originated, on her side. A farm, an uninteresting village on the side of the road... But there was also a day in this town near Paris where she took us to a large white house, rather decrepit, which reminded me of the few more or less abandoned houses belonging to the army on Avenue Joffre in my own town – a legacy of the German occupation after 1871. She explained that the house was called "Meyerbach".

It had become a kind of orphanage or home for troubled teenagers and young adults. We had an ancestor who had lived there when it was a mansion. Was he the master in question or an employee, I'll never know. The moment was quite moving; I was eager to enter this building to explore it, to discover it – whereas I had never wondered about the very existence of such a house, and would have passed by without paying the slightest attention to it if my mother had not pointed it out to us, I now felt the need to make it part of my life, to make it mine, or to make myself part of it, of its history, even of its present life, preparing, after all, to become an orphan myself, soon, and to wander through life like the young people who lived there.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Post tenebras lux

As a teenager, I once broke into a house. It was at the bottom of my street and bordered a square, or more precisely a plot of land half concreted, the other half with a few trees and tall grass. This square was bounded by an old wall on three sides and surrounded by houses and private gardens. One of these houses was particularly old, half-timbered, and had been called "the executioner's house" since time immemorial. Legend has it that it was the house of Joan of Arc's executioner.

It seemed vaguely abandoned; it wasn't in ruins at all, but there was something silent, still, asleep, like a holiday home, perhaps.

I entered it one summer afternoon with a schoolmate, Julia, with whom I had kept some distant relations. We knew (I can't tell you now how) that a door at the back, leading to the kitchen, was never locked.

My heart was pounding with the feeling that I was committing a transgression greater than a simple break-in. A moral, even metaphysical transgression, which I was unable to articulate precisely at my young age. Perhaps I was simply drawn to committing a forbidden act, drawn to the very idea of crime, of breaking and entering, of voyeurism. Not with the aim of harming anyone, but with the idea, again unstated, that at the end of the transgression awaited me revelations, a richness and depth of existence that a well-regulated, honest, law-abiding daily life did not allow.

The house was not abandoned at all. It was richly furnished and full of fascinating objects, clean and welcoming, warm and woody. I was not at all surprised; on the contrary, it was like finding myself in front of an obvious setting, a spectacle, that I knew obscurely I had to meet one day. A necessary step in my life, an archetypal house that I had to explore soon or later. I wandered with Julia through the rooms, taking my time, stopping on each knick-knack or old piece of furniture, fascinated.

I remember a long wooden table, a fireplace, a kitchen with ochre tiles and copper pans, well framed paintings on the walls, a thick dark leather sofa; I remember exposed beams, thick stone walls, fabric cushions, succulents and old books, I remember the fruit baskets, the first floor with its cosy bedrooms (there were three, obviously a family lived there, the parents and from the decoration, two teenagers, boy and girl).

An Amstrad CPC 6128, old cupboards, a wooden staircase, immemorial. The centuries seemed to cohabit here in peace.

It wasn't dark, strictly speaking, in the house, but the daylight came in soft, golden, lazy rays; it seemed slowed down, muted, respectful of the privacy, the tranquillity, the peace of the occupants, whose lives I wondered what they might look like and what kind of life they might lead in this place. Their existence, at the same time, seemed to me a little incongruous, almost theoretical and implausible; the house seemed made to remain silent, motionless, like a pure décor, a pure idea of a domestic paradise that should not be defiled by its presence. Perhaps the inhabitants avoided going home after having felt the same way I did?

On the way out we came face to face with a woman on a bicycle; the owner of the place. Julia ran away. But the woman was smiling, she seemed amused that she had caught us in the act and that she owned a house capable of producing such an attraction. I told her without any reluctance or shyness about my exploration of her intimate domain. It was like telling her how I would have made love to her – I was unable to consciously make that comparison at my young age, but the situation disturbed me in the same way. The landlady, who must have been in her forties, seemed to understand this, with intelligence and indulgence.

I don't know how long we had been in the house, but as I spoke to this smiling, almost entirely silent woman, who encouraged me to continue my confession with her simple smile, still riding her bicycle with one foot on the ground, I realised that dusk was falling; a warm, intense twilight, which gilded everything in a golden light, an idyllic light which further accentuated the attraction I felt for this older woman with whom I had just established a more intimate bond than I could have hoped for; a heavenly or Luciferian light, I don't know, but which secretly meant, for me alone, that my quest was a success.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Memory of very early childhood

I am in the courtyard behind the building where we live, on this street just outside the city, overlooking seemingly endless fields and forests. I see men walking towards the field and the orchards behind the building. Perhaps they are in disguise. Or dressed in a strange way, unusual for the child that I am. I feel that a kind of game is being prepared, a very serious game; something warlike is coming out of all this; that's the feeling that comes over me anyway. I want to join them.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Boarding house

Memory of my twenty, twenty-one years. I am alone and arrive in a kind of boarding house, in the Paris region. I had booked for three days. There is no one there except the owner. The establishment is tiny, but with an incredible number of rooms, small corridors and staircases. Everything is warm, wooded, with lots of little knick-knacks. A real doll's house, and a family house at the same time – a family house such as I have never known in my life and probably never will. The idea strikes me. Once in the room, I start to cry, without really knowing why; both with sadness and relief to finally be in such a place.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

The first man and woman

I thought of an episode from my youth, when I arrived at the chalet on Saturday night to spend the weekend with my partner. I won't go into the nitty-gritty details, but I once spent the night at the cottage with a much older woman (she was probably in her 50s, maybe a little older) when I was about 25 or 26. She was clearly a wife and mother, although I had not met any of her relatives. As luck would have it, we were the only occupants of the refuge – which is open to all members of the sports association that owns it – until the next day. We had had dinner, each at his own table, in the living room, exchanging a few words, more out of politeness than anything else, then I had gone upstairs to bed.

She had entered the dormitory where I was sleeping, to lie down there, a little later, unaware of my presence since she had not turned on the light. When she finally realized it, she had a strange little laugh, and we had quickly moved closer to each other. I'm sure she wasn't used to it, and that my charm had little to do with it. I am also sure that this would not have happened if the same situation had occurred in a different place. It was the chalet itself. The solitude in the middle of the mountain, the endless forests, the absolute darkness inside the chalet and outside. The wooded, ancient décor and the rustic, almost primitive life it hosted. We were like the first man and woman, naturally and irresistibly drawn to each other.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007


This blog will start again soon because I have a little more time to myself again. But its name and URL will change and become PSYCHOGEOGRAPHY OF NOTHINGNESS. I realize that my relationship to landscapes and space is as much, if not more, in the realm of fiction, night dreaming, imagination, memories... as it is in the realm of daytime life and the physical, conscious exploration of rural or urban places. Fiction, dreams and company, that is to say nothingness... but to which answers an even greater nothingness, that of the outside world, which behind the facades of theatrical scenery that it offers us day after day, hides a terrifying, despairing emptiness.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Dead zone

From time to time I like to lull myself with the idea that I am going to explore my region to discover places, people, things. But so far I only have an impression, each time the same, whether I am in a random village that I explore, or at the edge of the canal, or in the forest.

The reality is the road, the streets, the suburban districts, the commercial zones. The countryside, including its inhabited areas, is nothing but an empty scenery, in no way a place of life and activity. I would like to be wrong and hope to be one day disproved as I walk around, but it is an extremely powerful impression; more than an impression, an observation, even if I cannot exclude that it is different elsewhere in France.

The corollary to all this is that if the countryside is nothing more than a dead zone that no longer belongs to reality, then walking in it is like walking in a dream, meeting oneself, one's own representations and fantasies.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Dog club

Stopping, in my car, to take a picture of a more or less abandoned dog club that always fascinated me when I drove along it, all under a blazing sun, I realize that I would have been better off never stopping and settling for the fantasy.

For a few weeks I had the project of exploring my region, on a basis that was both methodical (study of the map, etc.) and left to intuition, to chance; noting names of localities, or precise places (the sawmill at the exit of such and such a village) as I drove along. I stopped that after a few photo sessions. An inexplicable uneasiness, a sadness. I understood some time later that these places only had charm, mystery, as long as they remained elements of a potential story, in my head. As soon as I go there to take a picture of them, their nothingness jumps out at me. They are places that have nothing to tell me, that have no place in my life. I have nothing to do there.

Thursday, February 23, 2006


The countryside is decidedly uninteresting, unattractive, a purely utilitarian space in reality, and sometimes, incidentally and accidentally, beautiful. Paradise is not "the countryside", but a garden, that is to say nature staged, arranged, humanized.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Just a decor

I 'm walking between a long hedge on my left, and, on my right, a fence that separates me from the railroad.

Beyond the rails: other groves, fields, forests, endlessly it seems. But I can't go there.

On this path, as everywhere else, I am blocked, a prisoner of marked paths; simple corridors from which I cannot leave and which reduce the essence of the landscape, the essence of the world, to just a decor.

Thursday, February 16, 2006


I walk with my "explorer's notebook" towards the Rehtal, where I take some pictures. A beekeeper, in his orchard with other people, glances at me suspiciously from time to time, and then, like every time I walk somewhere, comes to ask me who I am, what I am doing and why. I send him away, politely and he whines. Then I go through the inclined plane. I drive along the water, slowly because there was a motorcycle accident. I go up to Garrebourg where I photograph the shooting club. I explore the village by car and get lost.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Death, nothingness, insignificance

There is a topos of the hero who goes wandering in snowy and photogenic forests to forget an intimate drama, and who finds himself there or loses himself there definitively.

All this obviously does not exist in reality. In reality, in real life, when one goes alone in the forest, whether in summer or in winter, whether to forget or to remember, one finds only breathlessness, the banality of nature and boredom. There is no wandering or poetic or saving perdition.


When I was younger I liked to walk in nature. But, to my painful discovery, the more time passes the more unbearable it is for me.

When I walk on a country road, along a canal, or on a forest path, I don't feel in nature; I just feel nowhere. This feeling is even more distressing when I go deep into the real wilderness.

I realized over time that I like landscapes where you can see the human presence, landscapes shaped by man; the garden rather than the forest. In the wilderness I feel like a stranger lost in a landscape that has nothing to tell me and where I have nothing to do. I assimilate it more and more to death, to nothingness, to insignificance.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

New Middle Age

I visited, this weekend, in Alsace, with Laurence, several castles, intact or in ruins, but always in height, that goes without saying, and surrounded by a sea of fir trees. Winter sun. Many tourists. There is obviously a real popular fascination for these places. A sentimental, cultural attachment. And even stronger than that: atavistic. I had the impression while wandering in these places that the crowd came there obscurely to seek a lost natural environment, a social organization of which it drags the nostalgia without being able to name it; and that perhaps also these old stones would have a new role to play in the new Middle Age which announces itself.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

New relationship

A few weeks ago, I began a relationship with a woman who lives in a tiny town (4,000 inhabitants) at least an hour from any big city, in the middle of a miserable farming region, devastated without ever having been industrialized. Every weekend, after leaving my former mining and steel basin, now populated by low-income housing estates, I drive through dozens of kilometers of fields, orchards and villages with low, gray or weathered yellow stone houses, sometimes with their windows boarded up. But this misery is nothing; it's the price we pay for being far from the Machine. Away from the times. There's even something restful and comforting about it: we're still in the old world, and even in ruins, it's still the most desirable. With every kilometer I cover, I feel a little more like I'm sinking not only into space, but also into time, returning home to this region that I'm still discovering, and reconnecting with the history of my country and my ancestors, rediscovering something that has been betrayed, unjustly and too quickly forgotten, denied.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Secret apartment

I was at the fair, the night before yesterday; it was a beautiful summer evening, warm, pleasant, all filled with the smell of vegetation. I met my colleague, E.. We strolled together between the attractions and the candy stands. She seemed very relaxed, friendly; I myself, while the day had been awful, was breathing easier and not thinking about the countless issues of discontent that had dotted my day. It was the place that did it. Not the village itself, perfectly banal and typical of the region with its endless main street, almost a single street (the fair itself being held on the soccer stadium of the commune, almost at the edge of the forest), but its geographical situation, lost in the hollow of this blurred area between Lunéville and Blâmont, where clearly nobody ever goes, apart from the people who live there, since there is nothing to do, almost no economic or industrial activity. This kind of area fascinates me. I imagine them (obviously wrongly) as places apart, almost without State, without police, without crime, without permanent media and commercial propaganda, without anyone who can find you there; places where you can hide indefinitely, in safety and peace, out of reach. I imagined myself not moving here but renting an apartment, which nobody would know about, a place to hide and recharge if I needed to, on a whim, in the middle of the night.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Living in the ruins

This afternoon I was chased out of my house by the racket upstairs. Once again. So I went for a drive in a rage and ended up in Cirey.

I wandered around all afternoon in a state of growing amazement and excitement, realizing that the whole town was little more than a huge industrial wasteland, landscaped and inhabited. With whole streets of buildings visibly unoccupied, uninhabited, threatening ruin. The greyness, the bare stones, the abandoned gardens. Vegetation proliferates, lending a peaceful atmosphere to the disaster. Only a few suburban streets, similar to those in every other commune in France, looked new and healthy, growing in all directions on the outskirts of the city, as if avoiding its center of accursed ruins.

I've never had such an impression of an environment after the end of the world – and on a local scale, this really is the case; the little town had an industrial heyday of which nothing remains today, and its inhabitants live among the ruins, quite literally.

I saw a woman open the door of an abandoned warehouse that apparently served as her garage, perhaps even a living room, who knows, in an abandoned factory adjoining her house.

I saw a wooden shack built on a former industrial wasteland. Residents had planted gardens there.

I wandered through fields of rubble, dotted with ruined houses and warehouses that looked as if they'd been bombed.

A more distant past was also hinted at; passing through a desolate alleyway where I didn't expect to find anything, I saw the extremely elaborate lintel of what appeared to be a very old and luxurious house; an inhabitant, sitting on the steps of her own house, adjoining the other, told me that all this had once constituted a veritable castle. A sign a few yards away confirmed this. Opposite the "château", small barns made of agglos and wood were threatening to fall into ruin. So, here too, the locals lived in the ruins of a glorious past.

Come to think of it, my excitement was just one more instance of that unhealthy, abnormal state I manage to plunge myself into when I explore new places that turn out to be old, dilapidated, deserted. I should prefer life, beauty, animation, but no, it's entropy that obviously attracts me.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

In the mountains

I went to mass in T... this morning. It was the first time I'd been there, and to tell the truth, even the first time I'd stopped in this village instead of just driving through it. The church was beautiful, and I regretted not having the opportunity to take photos; bright, with a beautiful wooden high altar, obviously very old. I felt unusually good. This was due to something very specific to the place itself, which I eventually managed to put into words: I had the feeling of being "in the mountains". I was far from my depressing city, far from the concrete, the grime, the noise, far from the degenerates, far from the decadence, ugliness and death that the city in general has come to symbolize for me; There I was, on a sunny Sunday morning in this peaceful village, nestled deep in the mountains, surrounded by other equally peaceful villages, true refuges, and it was like being at the other end of the world, in a magical, protected, inviolable zone, where everything was still intact.

Monday, May 2, 2005

Intimate hells

Morning walk. I went up through the forest to Hellert... A mixture of deep boredom, painful loneliness, and excitement in front of some landscapes – I say excitement and not wonder, for example, because my mental state in this kind of situation looks like a kind of unhealthy exaltation (related to the fact of taking hundreds of photos, partly) more than a healthy appreciation of a landscape.

There is nothing refreshing, mentally and morally invigorating about the solitary walk for me. On the contrary, wandering and solitude lead me to strange, unhealthy, excessive mental states.

It is dangerous to walk around, to go for a walk outside. One believes to air oneself, to see the world, whereas one never wanders but in one's interior worlds, in the various levels of one's interior hells.

Monday, April 4, 2005

I MUST move home

I have to leave the city, which is killing me. Physically, morally, spiritually.

Monday, March 28, 2005

A simpler, slower world

I discovered this afternoon this village which is only five minutes away from the city where I have been living for fifteen years, but which I have always neglected to visit, because I simply had nothing to do there, and because I had, for a long time, never even crossed its name.

My goal was to drive randomly in a direction I had never taken and to stop in the first unknown village that would intrigue me.

I parked at the very entrance of the village, even before the first houses, on a kind of intersection between a parking lot and a playground, with a small wooden structure, quite new, that housed benches and a table; the kind of shelter that one comes across in the middle of nature and that is usually used to shelter from the rain or to have a meal, during a hike.

The first building of the village, just a few meters further, was fascinating, I had a real shock when I discovered it. An agricultural building, obviously, whose function still escapes me, but absolutely huge. It was dilapidated, roofless, open to the four winds. Instead of windows, thin and long loopholes. Something threatening - but indefinable - was emanating from it.

A few dozen meters further on, after the first houses (old farm buildings, mainly converted), we turned left to arrive in front of the church. Some beautiful and big houses, that I guessed were welcoming, cozy, in their juice. All this led, to my great surprise, to the banks of a canal, which was bordered by a footpath; I promised myself to take it on occasion, to see where it led.

I then arrived at the edge of an old cemetery, outside the village, surrounded by a stone wall. I have always liked old cemeteries, old graves. Especially in villages. They don't evoke anything macabre, nothing sad, on the contrary, they have something almost soft, even cozy, in this kind of setting cemeteries are true to their etymology of "dormitories". They evoke rest, peace, the proximity of loved ones, the softness of the native land. Just the opposite of a colombarium.

Afterwards, there were only the fields, but in the distance, we could see the neighboring village, a few hundred meters away, whose roofs and church steeple we could make out. I didn't plan to go there on foot, but I dreamed for a few moments of a simpler world, slower, quieter, where people would go from one village to the other through the fields, to trade, to visit each other...

Tuesday, February 22, 2005


Over the past few months, I've returned several times, day and night, to the places where I studied at university, where I spent my student life... An obsessive, sad, anguished wandering through these places of my youth that have become dead, silent, frightening. There's literally nothing to see there and yet I return again and again, in disgust, perhaps precisely to experience this disgust, to convince myself that there's nothing left to see there, to come to terms with this fact once and for all, to mourn, as the cooks say. Or perhaps it's the other way round, perhaps I'm not nostalgic for more lively times, richer in events and encounters; perhaps I return to these places to see them dead at last, empty at last, stripped of all the dusty theatrics we call a life. In their naked truth, the truth of nothingness.

Monday, January 3, 2005

The canal (2)

Walk, still along the canal, but in the opposite direction this time - I start from the marina and walk along the water until I get back to the city, to discover on the way the abandoned site called "Les Forges", gigantic and giving off the same post-apocalyptic feeling as the places of my previous walks along the canal.

I decide not to go back there anymore, and even less alone.

Monday, December 20, 2004

The canal

Walks along the canal. I park my car on the gravel parking of the marina. It is still cold – a film of frost, almost imperceptible, still covers the landscape and the things. 

A sheep's carcass, or an animal I can't identify, on the frozen water. At the same time atrocious and atrociously photogenic.

I walk along the water, towards the farm where E... and I have been a few times, and continue on beyond.

I take pictures that look like post-apocalyptic, Chernobyl-like landscapes, mixing tall grass, rocks, blackened walls, drainpipes coming from who knows where.

I am in a strange mental state. Following this river, in absolute solitude, sometimes punctuated by a dilapidated barn, a brick warehouse or a bare metal structure, on a winter morning, gives a curious sensation of spiritual, religious experience, a kind of local equivalent of the Ganges revised by Tarkovski.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Dull existence

I lead a minimalist, routine, cramped, minimalist life. I need to escape, to explore, to see something else. The world can't be so poor, so reduced to a restricted series of utilitarian places, ugly areas where nothing is possible. There must be something to see, something to do. There must be territories still hidden, where everything is untouched. There has to be.

Friday, October 8, 2004


She was back in town today, and on the way to the Fair, to go for a ride on the ghost train, we passed – as we do every time we see each other again – 29 rue de la Source. Only this time I had the idea of ringing someone's doorbell, at random, and going in to take photos in the inner courtyard. Neither of us had been there for years, maybe five or six years. It was exciting as a kid's joke: ringing all the doorbells and waiting for someone to open.

She rang the bell at random and, after several unsuccessful attempts, explained to one of the residents that she had lived here and wanted to take some pictures of the courtyard. So we went in. I went in with a light heart, it was nothing more than a little touristy stroll for me, but she, as soon as she entered the corridor, went from laughing to sobbing in an instant; this surprised me but was, in fact, obvious. Behind the harmlessness of this little excursion, something much deeper and more painful was going on. I was almost grateful to him for shedding those tears.

The walls had been painted white. The shutters of her old flat were closed and we rang the bell but nobody opened. We didn't pass anyone in the stairwell. There was no noise, no smell. It was a horribly sad moment, but with my camera, shooting every five seconds, I felt a little protected, as if I was outside what was happening. Fortunately, everything became lighter when we went back out into the inner courtyard. The pilgrimage had been made.

Saturday, May 29, 2004

End of exercise

I have to admit that I haven't really continued my "presence in the world exercises", not having much use for them since I'm not a writer or a video game designer or anything like that. Nevertheless I think it's a very interesting and promising wild discipline - no matter how pretentious it sounds.

Sunday, April 18, 2004

Dream last night

I drive alone, at night, towards Champagne. I stop in Reims or Troyes; it is a rather miserable city, ugly, grey, but it has this charm of the novelty which I need so much. This impression of being lost, disoriented, of being an absolute stranger, therefore absolutely free. I also find a rather medieval district, more alive, very beautiful, and I feel like a tourist, like an adventurer a little bit too, it is extremely soothing and pleasant. I also find myself in a kind of family banquet, or perhaps communal, because there are many people. A small sunny midday in province. I walk along a stream, there is a bridge or a ford, perhaps a small waterfall, too, and an old man – the bonesetter, the old sage of the village. There is a very poor little girl, very dirty, who lies down fully clothed in a kind of trough, in town, to wash herself.

Sunday, March 14, 2004

Being accepted

One of these last evenings I was walking outside and, on an impulse, attracted by I don't know what, I unexpectedly entered a building where the old, beautiful, wooden double doors were wide open. A muffled music, at low volume, was coming out. I found myself in a long corridor, like in a high school or a hospital; old tiles, woodwork, etc. At the end of the corridor was a room where I could see a small window. At the far end was a room where people (mostly young, in their 20s and 30s) were dancing. I finally realized, when I saw them exchanging in sign language, that they were deaf mutes having a little party of their own. The building must have been an institution and a place for them to live, and this evening was a kind of "open house" event.

I walked away and explored the place a bit, which was dark on the whole, in a nice and intimate way, without anything scary. I entered a room at random; it was a kitchen. Both in the hallway and in this kitchen the architecture and decoration had a decidedly old-fashioned feel to it, but there was nothing unhealthy about it, on the contrary, it was welcoming like a home, a place I would have known or could have known in my childhood or youth. I took some pictures.

A little later, some people I had seen dancing came to greet me, some of them must have been accompanying people or educators, since they were talking, and we chatted a little, obviously they didn't mind my intrusion at all. I stayed there for a good part of the evening. Some of the young deaf-mutes joined in the conversation in their own way, and I felt a kind of fascination with their silent, peaceful, smiling exchanges. I had never lived in such a structure, not even in a boarding school at the time of my schooling, and yet I felt a kind of indefinable nostalgia.

Thursday, February 5, 2004

Night walk

This time I decided to walk randomly, where my steps would take me. I went back to the little alley, hoping to see again that illuminated veranda that had amazed me yesterday - a glass veranda, with 5 sides, in which a nice little family was spending time, by the light of candles and small lamps. Something almost unbearably happy. But this time, the house was pitch black. No magic two days in a row, or at least not the same.

Today's was going to be darker and stranger; I should have known it from the beginning, in the previous street, with this dark garden closed by a twisted fence and overgrown by vegetation, by brambles, from which a few small white roses were floating. I stopped in front of it and looked at it for a long time, without knowing exactly why it fascinated me. Further on, when I had left this little neighborhood, without a regret, to take a street at random after the Town Hall, I came back on the same thing, the same effect; a small decrepit house, at the bottom of a long street, very sloping, with a very black gate, that the vegetation partly covered; it hid the main part of the house. I always liked that, that atmosphere of decay, of old age, I don't know why.

I walked up the street, which I soon realized I had never walked down. I was obsessed with the houses, as I always am in my night walks, with their illuminated, warm windows, which make you feel even more lonely, and bring back something probably very primitive - the desire to go knock on the door to get some warmth and meet other people. To appropriate their lives, also, their universe, because a house is a universe in itself. Often, just the color of a wallpaper, a picture on the wall, the shape of a lamp, give birth to stories and fantasies. Each house is a novel.

The street opened on the city. On the whole of my field of vision, small blocks of flats, lawns, concrete paths, garages; a miniature world perfectly organized, domesticated. I walked straight ahead, passing groups of quiet teenagers, fathers, nobody was paying attention to me. The orange, illuminated apartment buildings seemed unreal.

In front of a beautiful house: I positioned myself in relation to the streetlight and the branches of the trees above me, to have the most beautiful light and the most beautiful framing. And I realized again that I don't see reality; I see my fantasies, and I don't approach the real as a real, but as an aesthetic material, a work of art that would only ask to be fixed, by pressing a button.

When I left the blocks, I was once again on familiar ground; nothing prevented me from going back down to the town hall, then returning home. But as in a dream, I saw again paths and streets that went up towards districts that I had not noticed until then. I went up a discreet street where almost all the houses were plunged in the dark. The impression of unreality grew stronger, and culminated when I arrived in front of the cemetery. Its long wall ended the street and blocked the horizon; above it, the moon, absolutely full, yellowish, enormous. The funeral home looked like a Roman building, and with its exotic plants in front, I felt more than ever like I was in a setting. On the other side of the road, there were warehouses, then trees and night.

I walked along the cemetery and down a small path under the branches, which overlooked the fields; we were leaving the city. But another branch led to abandoned military barracks, closed by barbed wire. The ground was muddy. The feeling of unreality gave way to other, more personal thoughts, old faces came back to me. A subtle change of atmosphere, from one step to the other, as always, on several occasions during the walks; each street corner, each architectural nuance, each subtle modification of the lighting took me to other interior worlds. I thought of Emilie Forest. I repeated her name to myself, like a mantra, or as if to give her a little reality, a little flesh. Her name hadn't appeared to me for years, and seemed to appear from a previous life. Emilie Forest; a waitress's apprentice who was my neighbor when I was a young student, and who was the first person I knew and dated there for a few weeks before she simply disappeared. I wondered if she was okay.

Note: as I reread the account of this walk, I thought of Beatrice, wondering why, since she never lived in that neighborhood, and before realizing that it is now at the cemetery up the hill where she lives, or to be more sadly accurate, where the ashes of her body are. I also remember now that I had given her this text to read, since we were talking about meditation, which she practiced assiduously to keep the pain as far away as possible – in addition to the multiple doses of ketamine that she took daily – generally without much success. I told her that walking around in a certain state of mind was a form of meditation; moving forward without thinking, with an empty mind, completely open to perceptions on the one hand, and to ideas and mental images arising by themselves, uncontrolled, in the mind, on the other.

Monday, January 12, 2004

The windy grove

Stroll on the heights of Neunkirch, this afternoon – as often these days. When I turned off, after the airfield, to go to the forest, along these endless and inextricable thickets permanently flown over, it seems, by whole nations of crows, I noticed a strange grove. By some chance or necessity, it was exactly on a corridor. It seemed as if a strong draught was coming out of it. And there was something cheerful and lively about this draught, which, I don't know why, evoked adventure, travel, novelty.

Sunday, January 4, 2004

The pleasure of being lost

I arrived in Saint-Dizier after it had been dark for a while. I had an appointment with the girls; they hadn't left yet when I parked in a random car park. It was convenient; I took the opportunity to walk around. On my way in, I had walked along a park overlooking a large medieval wall that hid a more recent castle, and the whole thing looked really incongruous, just past the expressway and the shopping area I had come through. There were few people in the streets. Lots of old stones, decrepit facades, gates and portals, churches and cobbled streets, palm trees that gave, as sometimes in Nancy, the impression of being in a southern town, far away...

I wandered into the city, at random, feeling a bit the same as in Toulouse, the day I had spent a day alone walking in the streets, losing myself in more and more outlying and anonymous neighbourhoods, with an almost voluptuous vertigo, or as every time I was in a similar situation: the pleasure of getting lost, of discovering places – streets and alleys, squares, backyards, gardens – and of moving forward unceasingly, at random, open to any eventuality, any emergence of the unknown...

Sunday, October 12, 2003

The Lower Way

Walk along the bike path this morning. The weather was mild, everything was peaceful and comforting. A Sunday morning walk like I've always liked. For the first time I realized that there was ANOTHER path, parallel to the one I use like every walker, paved, well cleared, wedged between the railroad (inaccessible, fenced) and thick, inextricable thickets. This other path is located below, behind the thickets; it is almost invisible but very real. It is dark, unused, the more one advances, the more the hedges and the intertwined shrubs, with the tortuous, clawed, threatening branches, prohibit the entry to the curious ones. But it is incredibly attractive. One suspects that it leads to dark but unseen things. It is almost an unintentional metaphor, in the landscape, of the two paths a man can take in his life.

Friday, August 22, 2003

Ghostly countryside

I'd arranged to meet F. at a specific place, and when I got to the village entrance, I saw her walking along the road in my direction. We had arranged to take part in this popular march together. There are hundreds of participants, cars parked everywhere, others maneuvering, as well as bikers, press crews, organizers' stands everywhere, etc. This crowd and this activity quite surprise me and make me see in a different light this flat, ghostly, usually deserted countryside, which I only travel by car when I go home to my parents for the vacations.

We insert ourselves among the walkers and cover several kilometers, almost in silence, she and I, in the village itself and then on dirt roads in the middle of no-man's-land.

There's something archaic about it. The genetic memory of a lively, crowded, even teeming countryside; fantasies of a people on the march, as in scenes from the Bible or perhaps certain fairy tales. Something that can resemble a fascist rally as much as scenes from the Liberation. Something Dionysian, shattering the dreary everyday order where everyone is holed up at home, where everything is static and silent.

Thursday, June 26, 2003

Failed apocalypse

C'était les champs derrière la ferme – une lumière de rêve, de mythe, d'apocalypse que les photos ne retranscrivent absolument pas, ne peuvent pas retranscrire. Je regardais les arbres au loin ; ils flottaient dans une légère brûme que transperçaient les rayons du soleil, et derrière cette porte naturelle, on devinait un champ, d'autres arbres, jusqu'à l'horizon. J'ai remercié Dieu de m'avoir conduit là, et nous avons franchi la barrière d'arbres. Tout était silencieux, et avec cette lumière si intense, on aurait dit que le monde allait nous livrer un secret. Mais il n'y avait qu'un autre champ. Nous sommes retournés à la voiture.

Sunday, May 11, 2003


I recently went with F. to the medieval festival held every year a few kilometers from her home. We drove (I was driving) through several villages on the way, where I hadn't set foot since the day I emptied out L.'s grandmother's house and had no memory of.

The weather was unbelievably beautiful and F. herself remarked that it smelled like a vacation; the blue sky, the lush vegetation, the very fact of driving... I'd never driven in these communes bordering the big city, and it put me in a rather strange mental state; it was like finding myself "for real" in these dreams where I'm walking or driving alone in the city, but in a foreign, parallel, unknown version.

It was also like returning to certain memories, or revisiting an old, forgotten photo from my youth, but widening its frame to the surrounding landscapes, and having a chance to enter and explore them. A journey through time, space and memory.

These villages are part of the strange zones that abound around the city, or more precisely, non-zones, non-places, incoherent, dream-like juxtapositions of ancestral farms bordered by an ACTION store or a pizzeria, where in a few dozen meters you pass from allotments to high-rise apartments, Phoenix houses, warehouses and wasteland. We're not in the city, or the country, or a commercial or industrial zone. It's precisely nowhere.

Saturday, April 12, 2003

Exercises of presence to the world

It happens about ten years ago. I leave my house one morning, around 7:30. It is cold and dry. The sky is an intense blue, beautiful.

I have to go to a training center where I have to spend the day, for my work.

It's actually an old house at the edge of the city, on the edge of fields and forests, converted into a place to receive groups, seminars, meals, etc. There are meeting rooms, bathrooms and a kitchen. There are meeting rooms, a kitchen, dormitories, bathrooms.

I walk quietly across a large square in the center of town, almost down the street from my house, thinking that something is wrong; but I don't know what. Then I really SEE, and really hear the world around me; I come out of the autopilot where I live most of the time.

I realize that the air is saturated with crows' cries, deafening. And at the same time, in the distance, a fire engine siren sounds – the kind of sound that evokes bomb threats in movies. At the end of the square, a thick, very white mist. The whole scene is incomprehensible, as if someone had placed random elements of atmosphere.

I arrive at the training center, almost in shock. I feel like I'm beside myself, like I'm living a daydream. Everything feels both unreal and much more real.

There is an apple tree, in the grass, near the building. A basket is on the ground, at the foot of the tree, filled with apples.

I spend the day almost unconscious of the people and activity going on around me, writing in my notebook ideas for a personal typology of moods and what constitutes them, as well as basic techniques for creating aesthetic and poetic shocks like the one I had had, unexpectedly, on the street. With the postulate that it was possible to reproduce it at will - in the framework of creation, of aimless reverie, or of personal work on one's own consciousness. It is fundamentally a work on one's own view of the world.


Here is a transcript of my notes in bulk:

What is my purpose?

To study the processes (any element of a text, in terms of content, as well as form) to study the effects produced on the reader / player.

Start from stories / scenes that have marked me, that have spoken to me, and analyze them.

Insofar as it is not a question of studying narratives, but immobile scenes, visions (even if they are "evolving"), the term narratology is surely not right. What should we call it? Poetics?

The poetry I want to analyze is not that of the form of the narrative, but that of its content.


Azure blue sky, clouds of sheep. Incomprehensible fog. Fire alarm sirens in the distance.



Elements of the decor

Weather data

Contradictions or Great contrasts (sensory and emotional)

Sound elements

Impression of discovery

Impression of dream

Impression of meaning impossible to formulate or that escapes

Impression that something is going to happen, or that one has something to do

Incongruities, surrealism

Profusion of signs. The human world is a world of signs.

The cold, analytical, topographical description of a place and its elements, and of possible events taking place there, as a new literary form – for a technical age without lyricism.

Influence of the visual arts, of multimedia.

A writing of the presence, of the being there, more than a narration.

Micro-narratives. Refusal of the psychological spreads. No obligation of the "character".

Breaks in rhythm. Three years in five lines. Three minutes in five pages.

A clearing, a spring morning. Corpses on the ground. Bells in the distance. Bloody corpses, green grass. Children singing on the right.

No need to be "an author". Poetry is in the very nature of what is described or told.

The sound of trains running slowly on rails. We are in a large empty room in an abandoned building. It has many windows, on the left, from which enters a golden light. Curtains that fly in the wind. On the right wall, a cross, painted. Furniture and traces of life in some rooms. A platform. One hears dialogues coming from adjacent rooms.

These are exercises in presence in the world.


Opposition (cemetery + children's laughter) // Radical strangeness (cemetery + machinery noise)

Breaks between coherence and incoherence (church + sound of bells, then cemetery + noise of machines)

Interaction and placement in the center of the world and of the attention // Indifference of the world, position of external spectator


- Fixed scene // Flow of time

- Slow / Normal / Fast

- Ellipses or continuity

Weather: weather (depending on the season, snow, rain, sun, heat or not, fog) - color of the sky - outside temperature.

Natural and artificial light sources.

Types of sounds: human (voices, noises, music), mechanical (machines, vehicles, work), animals, sounds related to the weather, related to events (war, holiday, etc.).

Types of places: natural, urban (period? style?), industrial, ruins (period, style?), particular architectures.

Fires, floods, storm, earthquake.

Events : fire, festival, war, religious rite...

Objects: work-related, vehicles, organic, artistic, military, family / daily life, media (posters, newspapers, records, films), animals

Olfactory data: clean air or not (smoke, etc.), odors present (good or bad).

Narrative-camera. Succession of perceptions.


The basket of apples at the foot of this tree in the orchard that surrounded the training center. The near ecstasy I felt when I saw it.

Anachronistic, out of step with current life, current jobs, etc.

At the same time, coherent with the place (an orchard, a district at the exit of the city, near the fields)

In short, it is an amplification of the anachronistic aspect of a place.

Trace of human activity.

An immemorial human activity moreover.

The fruit itself is archetypal.

Appeal to archetypes (human activity, place, object)

Human trace, but no other visible or audible human on the premises.


Scene with a cheerful / soothing appearance, or sad / distressing

Scene with a cheerful/soothing or sad/anxious feeling

Apparent coherence or incoherence between the elements

Felt consistency or inconsistency between elements

Sense of familiarity or discovery / disorientation

Impression of meaning impossible to formulate

Interaction and placement at the center of the world // Indifference of the world and placement as a spectator of external events


Fictitious dream that came to me while walking in the forest yesterday: to advance, at night, in a dark, cold, inhospitable forest, and to arrive, on a summit, in a small, warm, lively village, or in front of a restaurant with illuminated windows, or anything of that kind.

Effect of rupture, of contrast, unexpected, and as well aesthetic as moral.

Let us specify:

Darkness // Light

Cold // Hot

Solitude // Crowd 

Feeling of depression and possible or probable danger // Feeling of security and joy

Death // Life

When we say rupture, we mean tension, beforehand.

When the contrast or contradiction between two elements of a scenario do not follow each other in time (a dark forest, THEN a reassuring restaurant) but are superimposed (a dark and sinister forest but where one walks with innumerable pilgrims, each holding a candle, in a moving scene, without any anguish), we are in something else.

Is every break based on a contrast (or even a contradiction)?

The restaurant, the tavern, any lively, illuminated, warm place, remains despite everything "expected", after a dark and sinister forest. There is rupture, contrast, but no contradiction. The contradiction would be to advance in the Sahara, and to fall on an igloo surrounded by polar bears.

The restaurant is expected because it fits with reality, and it is also, deep down, something expected in fiction, the imaginary story, the tale, etc.

The rupture introduced by the unexpected-but-expected place provokes feelings (comfort, etc.) whereas the rupture based on an absolute contradiction only surprises; it provokes nothing else.

Distinguish the wonderful (or magical) from the nonsense.

If instead of the tavern in the forest, or the igloo in the Sahara, we had a flying saucer (both in the forest and in the Sahara), it would be yet another category.


I never managed to take the time to organize and enrich these notes, to make them into something usable, like a kind of method. And these famous exercises, as a creative process and as a free and legal method to get high, are something I never pursued. Unfortunately...

Wednesday, March 5, 2003


I open this blog called "Psychogeographical Explorations" without really knowing what I'm going to do with it. I have always liked to walk, to wander, both in a restricted list of favorite places where I come back again and again, as if to haunt them and to revive in less certain memories - and in totally unknown places, new ones, where I let myself be carried away by the pleasure, the excitement of exploration. Often I notice that in these moments I find myself in somewhat strange mental states, which I would like to deepen and explain here.