3:AM: Your book is very much concerned with boundaries – either walls around Paris or the division between quartiers. Why are these boundaries significant to you?
Eric Hazan: I think Paris had a very particular growth: it grew like an onion, with a series of concentric layers. And that gives a quite special geography to the city, which is not exactly the same as it is here [London] for instance. And what was striking, when I began to work [on the book] was how sharp can be the border between one quartier and another one. Elsewhere in the city, it’s less precise, and even there can be transition – small pieces of the city – and all that makes, when you walk through the city, a very special psychogeography. I think it’s because the layers are so densely connected; there is this extremely dense – much more than here – there is nothing like what we call in French terrain vague: space, imprecise, where there is nothing, with not exact borders. There is nothing like that in Paris – I mean, inside the boulevard péripherique [the dual-carriageway built around Paris on the former site of the Thiers Wall].
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