Nathalie du Pasquier
I have known Nathalie for many years, since the early Eighties when she turned up in Milan. She arrived there in a more or less immigrant capacity; a penniless, perplexed and silent immigrant, her eyes almost without a glimmer of hope…; without even knowing where to settle. She had arrived—people said—after wandering through India; perhaps after running away from her safe and stylish home in Bordeaux, perhaps in search of an ‘essence’ for life—which for Nathalie certainly didn’t signify or boil down to a sense of security or, still less, to the elegant rituals of her respectable French family.
How she came to Milan I don’t know; I know she arrived carrying, in addition to her poverty and silences, and hidden behind her perplexities, a very special store of experiences, decisions, memories and possibilities; carefully packed and strapped. As happens occasionally when destiny is well tied up and packed… when destiny is sometimes only waiting to be unpacked and disclosed.
What Nathalie perhaps saw and found in India may have been the meaning of calm, the meaning of modesty and measure, the determination always to look, by and large, for the quintessence of things and to forget, not to bother, about the emptiness and mystification. Just as, it seems, the earliest Homo sapiens did when they broke open the femurs of deer to eat the marrow. It is almost never possible to get to the core of things by elbowing one’s way around. The pith will probably only be found in silence, after long meditation, after scraping off the appearances and discarding the squeezed logic, the over-lucid logic of plastic.
There is instead a softer, dusty kind of logic, as well as that of the unknown, the logic of progress and consumption; the large and the small… and there is a logic of noise, of silence, a logic of speed and a logic of perplexed immobility…
Nathalie on her travels has encountered and got to know all these diversities. Her existential wisdom grew and grew until it became, in fact, silence: a permanent silence, a question forever unanswered.
Nathalie thinks by now that the landscape of existence can only just be touched, gently caressed; that only little bits of it can be more or less stroked, here and there, like stroking a cat; just a little on its head, or only under its chin, or sometimes on its cheeks. In that way the cat is content and so is Nathalie. One can live for a while, for a while without looking for anything, but for a while knowing (something that isn’t even known), for a while letting everything continue…
Nathalie has been in Sicily too, looking at the landscapes there and gazing at days and skies, at the stones, walls and houses, a little bit at a time, watching events that have no reasonable reasons for being except for a brief fraction of time.
Events that don’t even bear any relation to each other. The houses-without-windows are as immobile as rocks, the trees are as big as rocks and the stones as still as houses. There is nobody there, nothing moving. The landscape is totally still, not even time moves in it. Everything is so motionless that not even the existence of time can be felt. Nobody knows where the past is. Or where the future is.
Perhaps this system of watching the world a little bit at a time, of stroking it a little at a time without in any way disturbing it or trying to find something that isn’t there, is the system used by angels to calculate where they are.
10 September 1997