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Time Capsule: The Nostalgia of Paris, France.

In the summer of 2017, I spent five weeks in the most nostalgically romantic city; Paris, France. I spent each week documenting communities of Paris and was encouraged to reflect on my thoughts. Here are some of the words and images that touched me along the way. 

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I had two particularly memorable encounters/interactions this week that intertwined themselves. Last Thursday, Cecelia and I attended a reading of White Tears by Hari Kunzru. After the reading, he discussed nostalgia, hip culture, and why there’s this constant craving for the authentic and the real. In summary, he concluded that cultural symbols and things that identify you as part of a group are very accessible now, because of media, the internet ect. And because of this, these cultural symbols aren’t exclusive to certain groups. For example, you don’t have to go see a band live anymore to be their biggest fan, you can hear almost all their content at the press of a button. In this way, cultural symbols kind of lose their toxicity, and that's why old things feel more authentic. There’s a reason people collect records, and there’s a reason people add film grain to their Instagram photos – there’s this desire and attraction to the old because it feels for some reason exclusive and not watered down. He also connected this back to nostalgia and the longing to have that imagined authenticity of another time.

For me, this was so reminiscent of the feelings I had about Paris, about it feeling more authentic, more real, more nostalgic than other places I’ve been. And frankly, I had no idea why. Because realistically this shouldn't be true that somehow Paris was more ‘real’ than any other place. I made a bit more sense of this through a conversation I had with a man named Stephan, who is studying philosophy here in Paris. He has lived here his whole life, and he thought that Paris was the most authentic place in the world, the most romantic too. I think the association we have with the word romantic is very closely associated with this feeling of authenticity and nostalgia. Stephan then asked me why American’s smile at everyone, and I had always thought it to be a sign of being friendly of reaching out, but over some conversation I kind of decided it's usually not genuine. I don't think I am that excited when some stranger passes me on the sidewalk or my waiter brings me an extra napkin.

The people I’ve met in Paris seem to be a little more careful with their emotions and who they share them with, only giving that kind of kindness when they mean it. I think that's the part of the phenomena of the romance in Paris. There is no pressure to give off a certain persona unless it be real, honest, and genuine.  I think that's why it’s very nostalgic to document here, and it feels very honest and genuine to be a photographer, because you’re able to capture a moment just as it is, without the pressure of it having to be anything else. 

Mackenzie King