Facteur-Cheval

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Facteur Cheval’s Palais Ideal -  Hauterives, France

Ferdinand Cheval, a French postman, began work on his dream palace in the late 19th century. As the story is told, Cheval tripped on a rock in 1879 along his mail route, picked it up and was so fascinated by its peculiar shape that he was inspired to build the imaginative palace. Coming from humble beginnings, Cheval had minimal formal education and no architectural experience, however, he was self-educated with help from the Le Magazin Pittoresque. Over the course of 34 years he enduring the criticism and mockery of his neighbors as he continued building. Pushing a wheelbarrow along his expanded mail route of 42km, he collected stones and he completed the building with no outside hel

Read more about this testament to individual creativity here!

Invisible Invisible Cities: Those That Are & Are Not Infernos to Pretend Marco Polo

The Great Khan’s atlas contains also the maps of the promised lands visited in thought but not yet discovered or founded: New Atlantis, Utopia, the City of the Sun, Oceana, Tamoé, New Harmony, New Lanark, Icaria.

Kublai asked Marco: “You, who go about exploring and who see signs, can tell me toward which of these futures the favoring winds are driving us.”

“For these ports I could not draw a route on the map or set a date for the landing. At times all I need is a brief glimpse, an opening in the midst of an incongruous landscape, a glint of lights in the fog, the dialogue of two passersby meeting in the crowd, and I think that, setting out from there, I will put together, piece by piece, the perfect city, made of fragments mixed with the rest, of instants separated by intervals, of signals one sends out, not knowing who receives them. If I tell you that the city toward which my journey tends is discontinuous in space and time, now scattered, now more condensed, you must not believe the search for it can stop. Perhaps while we speak, it is rising, scattered, within the confines of your empire; you can hunt for it, but only in the way I have said.”

Already the Great Khan was leafing through his atlas, over the maps of the cities that menace in nightmares and maledictions: Enoch, Babylon, Yahooland, Butua, Brave New World.

He said: “It is all useless, if the last landing place can only be the infernal city, and it is there that, in ever-narrowing circles, the current is drawing us.”

And Polo said: “The inferno of the living is not something that will be; if there is one, it is what is already here, the inferno where we live every day, that we form by being together. There are two ways to escape suffering it. The first is easy for many: accept the inferno and become such a part of it that you can no longer see it. The second is risky and demands constant vigilance and apprehension: seek and learn to recognize who and what, in the midst of the inferno, are not inferno, then make them endure, give them space.”

(Calvino, Italo. Invisible Cities. Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1974)



(Facteur Ferdinand Cheval, 1837-1924, and his Palais Idéal)