Posted by: Nancy | January 7, 2015

Absurd and Brilliant

A few weeks ago, my true love and I were in Buenos Aires. We had been walking that beautiful city, exploring parks, shops and the La Recoleta cemetery (4,800 exquisitely decorated vaults and home to a colony of feral cats!).  It was a pleasant day, but when a sudden rain shower threatened, we ducked into what promised to be a lively cafe.


It was bustling and noisy. It was a multilevel cafe, with tables spilling out to the sidewalk and  inside. Beyond the inner tables was a broad stairway to a second level that contained the bar, kitchen and additional tables.

The crowd was diverse. There were older patrons leisurely sharing a bottle of wine, perhaps regulars. Nearby was a large loud table of young men and women, in jeans, with a pile of backpacks nearby. There were several small tables of executive-looking men and women in office attire — suits and ties, skirts and high heels — ordering quickly, likely from the nearby commercial district. And us, comfortable and happy to be there.

Nearly every spot on the walls and pillars was decorated. Most of the decorations were from a bygone era — flamboyant, gaudy, eccentric advertisements for soft drinks or fragments of pop culture images like Elvis Presley. I was happy that our corner featured works of Robert Doisneau — the famous kiss, boy with baguette and so on.

I couldn’t resist snapping a photo of a picture that hung above a nearby table:


It made me laugh at its absurdity and brilliance. I was swept away imagining the sounds of the lone cello, the music that only the mountain could hear, the poignance of the act and the commitment of the cellist. I remember taking my love’s hand, caught in a moment of happy emotion.

Later, haunted, I researched the image: this was one of a series of photos of Maurice Baquet by Robert Doisneau. The two were friends and shared a joie de vivre, a spirit of playfulness that feels so very French to me — one of the reasons I love France and its people.

Maurice was an accomplished cellist as well as a member of the 1936 French Olympic Ski Team and an expert mountain climber. The amazing photo was taken at Chamonix; I also found a lovely interview with Maurice (posted by his son the French actor Gregori Baquet). While I had trouble following all the details of the interview, Maurice is positively joyous throughout and it is obvious that he loved this act of making music for the mountain.

I tell this little story to illustrate the power of communication when it evokes emotion. The photo provided lessons — a demonstration of collaboration, creativity, and taking chances on something that might seem utterly absurd, all balanced by the incredible planning, the painstaking artistry, the years of practice and preparation that preceded the act. Risks taken over a lifetime created this image — a tribute to the human spirit,  absurd and brilliant.


<p><a href=”″>Maurice Baquet</a> from <a href=””>Gr&eacute;gori BAQUET</a> on <a href=””>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

Thanks to Gregori Baquet for sharing the video. 


  1. Thank you. A long hard day….and a delight to read this when i settled in. Lucy

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: