August 22: carcassonne

I have four impressions when I see or hear the word Carcassonne. One: my own visit to this smallish town in south West France about twenty-five years ago. It is an ancient walled city with some gift shops inside but nice if you walk round the medieval walls on a sunny day. There is also a modern town beyond the medieval one. Two: my neighbour Tom tells me he plays a game on line called Carcassonne, which I suppose is about capturing medieval fortresses.  Three: at work in my room there is a framed poster of Carcassonne as it was in the 1960s (to judge by the one or two cars visible in the picture). It is less spoiled by modern tourism and you see the vegetation encroaching round it where now there is a big car park. Four: in recent days I have seen an advert by the French Tourist Board on TV trying to get tourists to come to France. The image they choose is that of Carcassonne. some images of the walls; some of trails of tourists in shorts; some of gift shops. It doesn’t look as alluring as it does on the poster in my room or even in my own memory from 25 years ago. What you think of something is a mix of memories, some personal, some collective; representations; transformations or translations into other modes or iconographies; interferences from extraneous elements (the sunny day I went round the walls; the evolution of the French tourist industy). It’s no wonder one can never be clear about stuff.

I don’t know what I think of Carcassonne now. If I go there again, maybe I’ll go in the winter.

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