Palais de l’Élysée and Ambiguity of Affect ( emotional geographies 8)


With Syria in the news and an international response taking shape, one cannot be blamed for forgetting about France. How relevant is France in a world where the US is still very much the dominant military superpower?

Yet, France has had a much greater global status in the past than it enjoys right now.

Palais de l’Élysées represents this twin pronged status of France, in my view: It is both where current French political power culminates, the office of the President of the Republic, a figure whose standing in the world is very far from past grandeur….and it is also a place that represents a rich past: Charles de Gaulle and the others that have basked in the shadows of the towering historical figures of this great country.

I find the palais de l’Élysée evokes mixed feelings in light of it being a reminder of how fleeting ‘glory’ is… Yet, I am thankful to be in a city where a glorious past sits with seeming decline. It is a constant reminder to not take things for granted, not to get too complacent, because it is possible for the mighty to decline. Rise and fall, past greatness and questionable present coexist in the space of palais de l’Élysée and I feel comforted by this underwhelming emotive reaction that this place inspires..

On good days, it is an inspiring historical space, on days like today where the reality of France as a B list global actor hits home, it is a reminder to stay on one’s toes… Then on most days it is a comforting landmark that demands neither awe nor disappointment, just a neutral, In-between, banal, ambiguous affective state.

The ambiguities of this space give me a 240th reason to be grateful of Paris as a place of study… It frequently offers a measured, in between calmness of emotion..none of the over excitement of the New World and none of the uninspiring ambience of countries were nothing works.