The theme of the day announces itself as we enter the Petit Palais:
I await my turn as Richard’s photography bag is scanned.
A woman pushes between us, and puts down her purse.
“Excuse me,” I say. “We’re together.”
She mumbles something in French, and elbows past.
A long line to buy tickets. I photograph the two busts of an African
couple with glowing eyes, one in a turban, gorgeous against the
marble wall. Richard finds a vent in the floor where cool air rises.
He’s always hot, a bull. One man at the counter and twenty people in line.
I listen to the man offer a tarif réduit to the woman in front of
me. She doesn’t look senior enough, forty at the most. I see in his
eyes his intention to insult. He holds up his hand awkwardly, two
plastic caps—or condoms?—on finger and thumb. Two more
The exhibition’s downstairs. The ticket taker tears my ticket half
with the images of a duchesse and a tigresse.
“Ohh,” I exclaim. “I wanted them for collage.”
He looks puzzled. Tickets are for tearing.
We gaze at Blake’s poems and etchings of Dante and Chaucer,
The Canterbury Tales, The Inferno and Paradiso, Songs of
Innocence and Experience. History is a perpetual fight between
tyranny and liberty, said Blake. That’s the struggle in all countries
and families. Some oppress. Some are oppressed. Some bolt for
As a child, Blake saw "a tree filled with angels, bright angelic
wings bespangling every bough like stars." Later, he blasted
slavery, child labor, and the oppression of women. Some called
him crazy. Would that we all were crazy like Blake.
Look at his drawing of the Recording Angel! This is what it is to
be an artist: to write in the book of life one’s experience while
alive, rather than waiting to read it in the Book of Judgment after
death. Blake saw visions of the truth behind the veil.
One museum guard has a wooden leg. So naturally, he’s the one
they assign to move around from room to room. Like a noisily
clumping Ahab, making it hard to focus.
In the last room, a Jarmusch DVD plays. Johnny Depp tells an
American Indian named Nobody that his name is William Blake.
Nobody quotes Blake,
“Every night and every morn,
Some to misery are born.
Every morn and every night
Some are born to sweet delight.”
I see the dark-haired woman who was in front of me in line.
“You don’t look old enough for a reduced ticket,” I say in French.
She looks surprised. "No, I'm not."
“The ticket taker was rude.”
“Yes,” she concedes, “but what can I say? I’m a woman, and he is a man.”
“You could protest,” I say, thinking of Blake’s defense of women.
She shrugs, docile.
We emerge into the air, hop on the Métro. At the next stop, a group
of dark-haired young women gets on, and yells at each other.
One stands against a pole and sneezes twice, spraying Richard,
who sits right below her. Everywhere we go today, this leitmotif:
humans being animals, artists being angels.
 reduced rate (for senior citizens)