In 1971 I traveled to Paris for the first time. I mentioned finding a Balzac-like pension where I could stay for a couple of months that was around the corner from a former Hemingway apartment on rue Notre Dames des Champs and within easy walking distance from rue de Fleurus, the apartment of Gertrude Stein and Alicxe B. Toklas.
In 2002 I revisited the pension, and Marie, daughter of the owner and now la propriétaire, found a scrapbook of photographs her mother had kept of previous tenants. She flipped the pages back to the early 1970’s and found the page where I could be. And there I was. « C’est moi ! » I remember looking and wondering, “Who is that guy?” It was me yet a stranger, too, not me, someone else. I looked at the picture and tried to remember what I was like then and and how I spent my days in Paris, where I went and what I ate.
The taxi stopped in front of the Rotonde. No matter what café in Montparnasse you ask a taxi-driver to bring you to from the right bank of the river, they always take you to the Rotonde. Ten years from now it will probably be the Dome. It was near enough, anyway. I walked past the sad tables of the Rotonde to the Select. —Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises.
In college I took several philosophy courses. In one course I remember reading and talking about “identity” and the language we use when naming something. For example, a river flows and thus is always changing. If I step into it and step back and then step into the river again, is it the same river?
But wait, there’s more!