Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Original Eiffel Tower

Among the many small surprises of Paris was one in which it turned out that I loved the Eiffel Tower. Before the trip I was vaguely aware that, though it never managed to stir anything in me, it was pretty much the most iconic building there is. But with the heightened awareness of having been in it I am finding it's ubiquity to be overwhelming. As a random example I have run an informal study here at my library and found that the Eiffel Tower features on the cover of 35% of all books we have, even, curiously, ones with nothing to do with Paris or France.

My wife and I had a lovely time simply spotting the tower as it ducked in and out of mysterious appearances all over Paris. Later we hung out under it for an hour or so, poking around in its shockingly crappy gift shops and food stands and waiting for our scheduled time to go up into it. We got a little, or a lot, nervous about all those heights. Then up we went in a double decker elevator feeling slightly amazed. "We're in the Eiffel Tower" We said. Though I am drawn to things I can say that I did, I know it's a pretty hollow pursuit. But not with the Eiffel Tower! I am going to see ten million more pictures in my life of The Eiffel Tower, and every time I do a tiny light in me is going to go on, a tiny "We were there."

And so we were. We went to the top and toasted each other with some champagne. We combed over every deck, platform, girder, view, and store. Long since home I now notice how all our giant TV and radio antennae are in the shape of Eiffel Towers. Funny thing is that the Eiffel Tower, built before radio antennae, is the Ur radio antennae. Even the usability of the Eiffel Tower later on as a radio antenna is one of the things that saved it from being taken down. The other, I imagine, is that no one in their right mind would want to undo all those rivets.

On my walk to work today I saw a few Eiffel Towers, that is, I saw radio or TV antennae out on the high ground in the Twin Cities. They really did catch my eye. No doubt there are tens, maybe hundreds of thousands of metal Eiffel Towerish things scattered across America. So it's a little funny that only the original design in Paris is actually at all pretty and magical. Only the Eiffel Tower itself works aesthetically. It's like it used up all the beauty of its own conception on itself.

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