Back to blog
Share your work with family and friends!

I settle into a seat in the lecture hall, cramming my pack into an empty chair. Some students are reading, some writing, some just sitting chatting quietly. The hall is a huge, sloped one, with the small stage and lecturn below us. You’re at the Opera, but you’re not. It’s the University of Bordeaux, and a famous professor is scheduled. A petite woman in short hair and a green blazer steps to the microphone.

“Je presente Professor Ellul,” she says, her s’s sibilant in the way only the French can deliver them. I give you professor Ellul.

He makes his way from a side door with a leather briefcase and a raincoat. It is Bordeaux, after all, and either it is raining or it will rain. A spectacular environment for grapes, a bit tedious for humans.

“Bonjour, bonjour. On va commence a chapitre trois,” he says, placing papers and a book on the lecture. We will start at chapter three.

I pull out my hardbound book, the one he wrote, the one I’ve been reading, entitled “La Propagande.” I read ahead of class, sometimes twice. It’s in French, he delivers his lectures in French, and it all goes fast. He begins to speak and I make room for my paper. I take notes.

I look up to him and then back at my paper throughout the lecture. He strays wildly from his book, which is why I take notes. The other French students nod from time to time, and I strain to take it all in. I’m listening deeply, my antennae all the way out, and my nine years of French classes the soft mat I fall down on when I’m confused. It’s all the French I’ve learned, along with new vocabulary. But most of all, it is a fast current, swirling and rushing and gathering speed until it comes to an eddy. Then off again. The words aren’t discrete words, they’re a live river. There are no spaces between the words.

Mel, sitting next to me catches my eye and raises her eyebrows. It’s so fast.

“It’s totally spaceless,” I whisper in English. “No separation whatsoever.”

She stiffles a laugh and shakes her head. We’re both listening as fast and deep as we can.

Leave your comment...