by jemma margaret

There are good reasons to not rush home too early.

Last Thursday at around 5:45 I packed my things and left l’Institut Henri Poincaré for the evening. As I passed by Notre Dame (the so-called centre of Paris), the clock struck six.

Or, more precisely, the bells struck.

I hadn’t heard the new bells since they were installed. They don’t ring at every hour, but six o’clock is an important time in Paris, when everyone is suddenly off work and holding a baguette.

The sound was incredible. Everyone looked up, people snapped pictures. I couldn’t see anything, but a chill ran down my spine.

Now, more than ever, we live in the age of mechanical reproduction. If you can’t make it to Paris, you can still hear the bells. I have pretty typical mixed feelings about this. The number one comment you hear from English speakers viewing the Mona Lisa is how small it is. Perhaps, our proximity to imitations dilutes our experience of the real thing.

With the risk of sounding too much like a luddite, I’m glad they haven’t yet mastered the capturing of our other three senses. Imagine if Proust had a little bottle of madeleine flavor he had captured as a child. Imagine if scented candles successfully imitated ocean breezes and freshly baked bread. I know they can create tastes and smells in labs, but I can believe it’s not butter, if you know what I mean.

So next time you take a bite of what’s for dinner, savor the uniqueness of that singular experience.

Unless, like me, you made enough leftovers to last four days.