Over Under Paris- Yahnell Judah

Over Under Paris by Yahnell Judah

Metro Line 1

Metro Line 1 crosses Paris from east to west and is the most used line, transporting over 200 million passengers every year. This is due to the proximity to many national monuments and tourist destinations and because it has more connections to other lines and RERs than any other single line in Paris. It is one of the 16 lines currently making up the metro system and connects the La Défense and Château de Vincennes stations, stretching a length of 10.3 miles. In this project I will be exploring the history of the stations I chose to go to and the effects of the historical events on my present day observations of the surrounding areas. 

 

La Défense 

La Défense is the western end to Metro Line 1. It brings many people to their jobs every day as it is located just underneath the business district slightly left of Paris. This area was not always the business district, in fact the skyscrapers and towers it is known for were not erected until around 1965. Paris saw an economic boom in the early 1970s and this sector then grew in proportion. As more people began to work in this district, more public transportation options were made available, including an RER rail line connecting the area and the Place de l’Étoile. There was an economic crisis that primarily affected La Défense at around 1974 to 1977 but with their recovery came new projects that offered a greater diversity in architecture and in culture. In 2005, a renewal of La Défense occurred and projects such as the renovation of old buildings, construction of new office space and new monuments made La Défense what we see it as today.

First stepping out of the terminal to see where we were, I was very surprised and in awe. Not only was La Défense extremely different than the rest of Paris, it looked even more futuristic than any area I’ve seen before, even more than some places in Miami. I was surprised at the way they used space, to not only make the buildings look like they were a hundred years ahead of modern architecture but also in that they incorporated green areas. I feel as though many business sectors fail in doing this, making them tiring places to work everyday but this business district offered areas of running water, bright colors, and gardens to allow for mental breaks from the hustle and bustle of the work day.

 

Bastille

Bastille is a station on three of the 16 metro lines of Paris: the 1, 5 and 8. The location surrounding the Bastille station is significant in French history. The Bastille was a fortress built around 1380 to hold weapons and be a stronghold. It was taken control of on several occasions but the most famous being on July 14th, 1789, when the people of Paris took hold of the fortress and took the gunpowder held there while also freeing several prisoners. This marked an important moment in the French Revolution and is still celebrated today, as Bastille Day. The column seen there today is to recognize the overthrowing of Charles X. 

With how much historical significance is related to this area, I thought that there would be more recognition given to the Bastille. Having researched it beforehand, I knew only a monument stood in its place but for some reason I was expecting something larger, especially since on Bastille Day, Paris hosts large celebrations and the Eiffel Tower is the center of a firework and music display. Right next to the monument there are restaurants and cafes named after the Bastille, which sort of solidified its place. However, overall I think that the Bastille itself is not so important as what it stands for, and what it represents is seen throughout Paris, not in a single monument to its existence. 

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Charles de Gaulle- Étoile 

Charles de Gaulle- Étoile was originally called Étoile, after its location, but then the name of President Charles de Gaulle was added in the 1970s. President de Gaulle was a very revolutionary figure in WWII as he advocated for the rejection of the idea that France was defeated and encouraged his people to continue to fight. It is another popular metro station, serving lines 1, 2 and 6. The station sits underneath the western side of the Avenue de Champs-Elysees and under the Arc de Triomphe, one of the most widely known monuments in Paris. This large structure has the names of famous generals and battles that were engraved in 1836 and honors the unknown soldier with a tomb and an eternal flame. Place d’Étoile, where it stands, is named after the star formed by the 12 avenues that radiate out from it. 

I’ve studied the Arc de Triomphe in school as an art history lesson but this is really a structure that has to be seen in person, emerging from the subway station to see it in the near distance is breathtaking because you don’t realize how large and intimidating a structure 50 meters tall can be. Besides it being intimidating, I’m always impressed by the propaganda artwork on the side, the high panel reliefs really make you believe that a better and more prosperous country will arise. It is amazing to me that this monument is just surrounded by a circular road with a lot of traffic because it feels as though it should be in isolation, no modern thing is worthy of being next to it. However, despite this initial impression, I find it a good thing that it is surrounded by the stores of the Champs-Elysees because it helps keep modern people interested in something that was finished being created 183 years ago.

Palais Royal-Musee du Louvre

This station of Line 1 was one of the original eight stations used when the line first started running. Like many stations, it’s original name was changed and this occurred in 1989 at the opening of the Louvre museum. The Louvre attracts over 9 million tourists a year, being the canon usually used for art history education and therefore being of interest to anyone interested in art history. The entrance on Place Colette is one of the most notable things about the station itself, having been designed by Jean-Michael Othoniel. He used colored beads to make a very unusual entrance surrounded by a very traditional area. Originally the Louvre- Rivoli also lead to the entrance of the Louvre but it no longer provides direct access. 

I honestly do not know how I can describe the Louvre in a way that does it the justice it deserves. To put bluntly, it was beautiful. To extend that thought, it was awe inspiring, motivating, tear jerking, incredible. All of the works that I had seen in my art history books were right in front of me, the ones I had written essays about and memorized the names of the painters, sculptors, artists who created them with their bare hands. The most amazing to me, especially to witness in person, was Bernini’s Hermaphrodite. How he managed to make stone appear soft enough for me to jump in will forever be lost to me, but I appreciate it greatly. One downside to the Louvre is that obviously, it is one of the most visited tourist destinations in the world, meaning the food and culture surrounding the museum were very superficial and not as authentic as I found the rest of Paris to be. 

 

Louvre Rivoli

The Louvre Rivoli station was not one of the original eight stations in metro line 1 but it was implemented just a month after the others in August of 1990. Its original name was changed once the museum opened, as was the case with the Palais Royal- Musee du Louvre station. It used to have direct access to the museum entrance but no longer does. This station is the first station to be culturally decorated, it holds replicas of some of the most famous museum pieces. Full renovations occurred in 2014 and that is the station seen today.

Unlike the other stations, with this one I really enjoyed the platform itself. I felt like I could get a taste of the rich history and culture of Paris right from the second I stepped off of the train. The lighting and colors really interested me. Again differing from other stations, this one gives every user of the metro a museum atmosphere, with its lighting and dark color scheme. Even the seats are different to create this illusion. I personally love that the culture in Paris is so accessible to everyone and this is the embodiment of that.

 

Saint Paul

The Saint Paul station opened August of 1900, less than twenty days after trains first began running along the metro line. This area is famous for Le Marais (the marsh) where both the gay district and the Jewish district lie. Because of the unique gathering here, it displays many buildings and areas of architectural and cultural significance. This area was once known to be “shabby” but now is rather trendy. Jewish people have been living in this area since the end of the 19th century, and was called the Pltezl. During WWII when Jews were being prosecuted, this area diminished in its original population but has made a comeback since. Le Marais is also home to many art galleries, trendy places to eat, and fashion displays. 

The area around Saint Paul was one of my favorites. It was nice to see underrepresented groups in an area that was predominantly minority filled because the culture expressed there is different than what is seen in the majority of Paris. The gay district I found to be rather explicit but since it was seen everywhere in the district, it made it more mundane and the explicit nature was not looked down upon and could just be enjoyed for the entertainment factor by tourists such as myself. I love seeing minority groups being able to express themselves freely and so I loved this area. The Jewish district was also pleasant to walk through but obviously in a different way. I liked the selections of food present and the synagogues were beautiful. Besides the Le Marais area, there was a very little visited church that I stopped which I wish would be appreciated more. The architecture was on par with a lot of other famous churches and it is unusual because it was the first southern facing church.

 

Champs Élysées- Clemeceau

This station was one of the eight original running when metro line 1 first opened. It is one of the few stations that lead to the Avenue des Champs Élysées. The official residence of the President is located north of the station and to the south are both the Grand Palace and the Petite Palace. The Avenue is well renowned as one of the most beautiful avenues in the world and makes for a fantastic day of shopping. Luxury brands have stores there alongside more practical brands such as Zara and Nike. On Bastille Day this Avenue holds a large national parade to celebrate and this Avenue also hosts the ending of the Tour de France. A trip to Paris is not complete without visiting the Avenue des Champs Élysées and luckily, this metro station drops many tourists every year right there.

The commercialism concentrated in this one area is heavy and intimidating but also extremely impressive. Every brand that is known to be anything is located on this one street, even if they don’t make a lot of money at that location, it’s a status symbol. The Louis Vuitton was extraordinarily remarkable, with the ferraris and other expensive cars parked in the front. Walking down that street gives a feeling of luxury, even if only for a little bit. I found it interesting that people of all socio-economic status were socially encouraged to walk in and look around whereas at any other locations of these luxury brand stores, they run the risk of being looked down upon by the employees working on commission. It was a welcoming atmosphere to show off what the brand can produce, and for people (like myself) that can’t afford these things on a regular basis, it was a unique experience.

 

Tuileries 

This station is located under Rue de Rivoli on the east- west axis of metro line 1. The Jardin des Tuileries are near, which is what the stop is named after. The gardens were constructed and shaped under the reign of Louis XIV and under the direction of his royal landscaper. The gardens are known for mixing the traditional Italian garden structure with the shaped bushes and trees belonging to French culture. Being that this was the same landscaper who oversaw the Versailles gardens, nothing but the best is to be expected and he certainly delivered. Artwork decorated the gardens in structural components such as fountains but it also holds two world famous art museums: the Galerie Nationals du Jeu de Paume and the Musée de l’Orangerie, which holds Monet’s Water Lillies.

The second I stepped out of this station, I saw a fair that was being held. Children were yelling on rides and begging their parents for cotton candy and it reminded me of the Miami Dade County fair but on a smaller level. I also liked that I was just able to walk in for free, which is a testament to Parisian culture and its accessibility. Outside of the fair, I ran into the gardens. I was awestruck by the beauty of a particular statue, one of Theseus defeating the Minotaur. Having just seen a section of Minotaur paintings and sketches by Picasso in the Picasso museum earlier, it was interesting to see the differences in how the monster was depicted in the art pieces. I was able to enter the Musée de l’Orangerie during class and I appreciated the water lillies and how the subject of the painting paralleled the nature dominated area just outdoors. The park was very busy with tourists exploring the gardens and heading to the museums. 

 

Chatelet

The Châtelet station is the ninth busiest metro station in the Paris metro system. It has connections from the 1 to the 4, 7, 11, and 14 and multiple connections to RERs and is the largest underground station in the entire world. It is named after the Place du Châtelet, a public square on the right bank of the river Seine. The square holds two theaters, designed by Gabriel Davioud and a fountain designed by Francois Jean Bralle. This fountain shows four figures, allegorically known as Prudence, Justice, Temperance and Strength and the fountain also pays tribute to many battles won. Along the streets outside of the station are also many shopping areas and restaurants within walking distance. Tune Chatelet area is known for its liveliness. 

Busy. The area surrounding Châtelet is busy with residents, workers, tourists and everyone else you could think of exiting from one of the five metro lines that merge at this location. This area definitely markets to tourist, which to be fair, most of Paris does. There are plenty of souvenir shops scattered around and some stores that may not sell legitimate items but are packed all the same. The les Halles shopping mall was a little further down from the entrance to Chatelet but still in the same area and it had a lot of the stores from the U.S such as Foot Locker or places to eat such as Starbucks. This area was sort of hidden behind a lot of construction but with that you could tell that this area is constantly developing.

Concorde 

Concorde is the only metro station I know of to have a world famous poem based on it: “In a Station of the Metro” by Ezra Pound. The station is named after the Place de la Concorde, one of the most popular public squares in the city. For a short time, this plaza was actually named the Place de la Revolution and a statue of King Louis XV was torn down followed by the beheading of King Louis XVI. Marie Antoinette was also beheaded here. The name of the square was eventually changed after the revolution as a gesture of reconciliation. It is located between the Champs-Élysées and the gardens of Tuileries. Directly in the middle of the plaza stands the Obelisk of Luxor, which praises Pharaoh Ramesses II and was given to the French from Egypt. The fountains are another tourist attraction and important monument, the North fountain representing rivers and the South fountain representing the seas. 

Knowing that Marie Antoinette and many other important political figures of the time were guillotined here was unsettling. As beautiful as the area was, I couldn’t help but imagine their final ride to their deaths. However, it helped that it has obviously been remodeled since then, since the function of the square became entirely different. The obelisk was absolutely stunning, with the gold capped top, it offered a break from French and Western European culture in a monumental way. To one side of the monument, I could see the gardens of Tuileries and on the other marked the beginning of the Champs Élysées. Both of these classic tourist designations on each side seemed to juxtapose each other but in a way that I found to be very complimentary to both sides.

 

References 

Châtelet, Les Halles & Surroundings. (n.d.). Retrieved July 31, 2019, from https://erasmusu.com/en/erasmus-paris/what-to-do/chatelet-les-halles-surroundings-3774

Jardin des Tuileries – Jardin des Tuileries information and pictures. (n.d.). Retrieved July 31, 2019, from http://www.gothereguide.com/jardin des tuileries paris-place/

Bureau, P. C. (n.d.). All you need to know about the Champs-Élysées Paris – Paris Tourist Office – Paris tourist office. Retrieved July 31, 2019, from https://en.parisinfo.com/discovering-paris/walks-in-paris/all-you-need-to-know-about-the-champs-elysees

Louvre-Rivoli Metro station, Paris’ first cultural station. (2019, July 22). Retrieved July 31, 2019, from https://www.travelfranceonline.com/louvre-rivoli-metro-station-paris-first-cultural-station/

Metro.paris. (n.d.). Retrieved July 31, 2019, from http://metro.paris/en/place/bastille-station

Paris La Défense. (n.d.). Retrieved July 31, 2019, from https://www.ladefense.fr/en/history-place

 

Yahnell Judah: France as Text 2019

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Yahnell Judah is a senior at FIU majoring in Biology and Interdisciplinary Studies with minors in Psychology and Chemistry. She will be graduating in Fall of 2019 and plans to attend graduate school to obtain her doctorates in Biomedical Sciences. Since her programs are primarily math and science focused, Yahnell hopes to learn more about European perspectives concerning the humanities, including art and culture. Below are her As Text assignments.

PARIS AS TEXT

Sainte Chapelle by Yahnell Judah of FIU in Paris on July 3rd, 2019

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La vie en rose

Soft light passing through painted glass

Soul transposed

Solid gold housing the Crown of Thorns

Adorns

A chapel for cultural first class

La vie en rose

The King enters and the worshippers rise

All on one’s toes

Knowledge from scripture presented

Dissected

By the worshippers eyes

La vie en rose

Shards of light run through scenes subject to be changed

Not in accordance to prose

The people are illiterate

Ignorant

Not noticing the end of the story deranged  

La Bible en rose

The religion of the people sat at the throne

Holiness dragged to new lows

The power of the crown undermined

Refined

For King Louis the Ninth to own

VERSAILLES AS TEXT

Marie Antoinette and Her Home by Yahnell Judah of FIU in Versailles on July 7th, 2019

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Marie Antoinette is one of the most judged figures that we have studied in French history so far, however, I sympathize with her. She was born in 1755 to a Holy Roman Empire and an Empress and was promised to the next King of France at a very young age. Of course she developed a taste for extravagance because she knew of nothing else, she was never built to sleep in a bed any less grand than the one she had and never meant to stay in housing any less grand than Versailles. Her time as royalty in France was wrought with unfulfillment as she was given little to no duties that were of any importance so she invested her time and money into her interests such as fashion. I do not think this excused her actions, because she still committed heinous acts such as using state money to continue to build Versailles as she wanted it to be while a large percentage of her population was starving. The country spent 20% of their national income on maintaining Versailles and I could only imagine how that would look to commoners whose children were dying. However, I find it important to note that her excessive spending was not the only cause of France’s debt, the country was also helping in foreign war that was very draining on their resources. Versailles and specifically Marie Antoinette became a scapegoat for all of the country’s problems. The Royalty and advisors of France at the time were obviously mismanaging money especially when it came to benefiting themselves and leading the country to the ground but I believe Marie Antoinette and the hideouts she created in Versailles receive an unfair portion of the blame. She was ignorant to the problems of the people and this is evident in Versailles and this created hatred for her, but I’m not sure if she deserved to be blamed in the entirety that she did.

IZIEU AS TEXT

A Letter to Albert Bulka by Yahnell Judah of FIU in Izieu on July 12th, 2019

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To Albert,

You were the youngest of the children taken from your refuge by monsters, robbed of your childhood, innocence and the remainder of your life. On the 6th of April, 1944, Gestapo agents raided what was home to you under the orders of Klaus Barbie. You were arrested and dragged off and murdered for no other reason than simply because you existed. I can’t help but think of my younger siblings when I hear about your story. I love them more than anything in this world and I’m not sure what I would do if they were taken from me in such a way. When they were your age, they used to like to color and draw pictures, just like you did. I’m sure your older brother played games with you too, just like I did with my younger siblings. I feel for your parents also; they were just trying to give you a better life than the one that they were living. I don’t know how anyone could see you as a threat; you were just five years old. You and the other 43 children taken with you deserved to live out a fulfilling life, one not cut short by hatred. I wish you could see that Barbie did have to pay for his crimes against you and yours, even if it wasn’t near all that he deserved. His crimes against humanity will not be forgotten and I hope that the preservation of the memory of what he did to you can help it to not happen again in the future. For the first time since the early 1950s, far right officials have been elected in high positions in governments in several European countries and the United States. But I have hope, because we continue to honor your memory and the memory of others that went through the tragedies of the Holocaust.

Love,

Yahnell

LYON AS TEXT

The Lazar Family by Yahnell Judah of FIU in Lyon on July 10th, 2019

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Hearing the tragedies that occurred during the Holocaust always makes me more aware of the hatred that humans have the capability to use to destroy the lives of others. Senseless hatred spread across several countries like wildfire, making people turn their backs on their neighbors, on their friends, on the principles of humanity and the idea that every person deserves to a chance to live. The events of this mass murder and imprisonment seem too preposterous to be true, yet it did happen and it happened with a violent amount of support. No single tragedy makes me wonder how humans can be so cruel more than the violence against children. The Lazar family was captured and held in Montluc. I stood in the same cell that the mother of the family tried to comfort her four children in. I thought of how impossible that task must’ve been, when they’re just children who don’t understand what is happening and aren’t being allowed to stand in the light of day through no fault of their own. The youngest of these children was just four years old. Only four years old. Francine Lazar probably never got the chance to spend time in school and learn and grow with children her age. She was robbed of any childhood she would have had a chance of remembering. Her years of coloring and learning to ride a bike and tripping over her own shoelaces at the playground were cut short for no other reason than hatred for her background. The entire family was sent to Auschwitz on the 3rd of February 1944 and they were never seen again. May the Lazar Family Rest In Peace.

 

Normandy as Text

General Lesley James McNair by Yahnell Judah of FIU in The Normandy Cemetery on July 23rd, 2019

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Here lies General Lesley James McNair

Nicknamed “The Unsung Architect of the U.S Army”

Even just a few years before WWII, the U.S Army was weak, disorganized, and lacking in technological advances that were present in other countries. However, during the first year America was in the war, the army was able to invade North Africa. In the second year, they were able to help boot Italy out of the war for good and in the third year, the army found itself on the border of Germany, helping to defeat Hitler. Many attribute this military success to factors other than characteristics of the army but the truth is, the leaders of the army forged a miracle. A miracle that involved the organization of the army to make it into a mighty force on the battlefield. One of the designers of this miracle: Lesley James McNair.

McNair was born in 1883 as the second of six children. His family moved from Verndale to Minneapolis, Minnesota to provide a better education for their children and it is from here that McNair graduated high school. He started his studies at the University of Minnesota School of Business while waiting to be accepted to the U.S Military Academy.

In his early career, he gained experience with laboratory and practical experimentation and used it to identify the best materials to use in the production of cannons and other weapons. His background in statistical analysis and engineering helped him with these projects. In the first WW, he was in charge of pre-deployment mobilization and individual soldier training and was assigned to the American Expeditionary Forces. At age 35, he became the youngest military general in the army.

In 1940, McNair began his new position as chief of staff for general headquarters, which eventually derived into the army ground forces, which he commanded. It is in this position that McNair really showed his worth. His duties grew significantly and it was in this position that he was able to expand the army’s ground forces from 780,000 men in 1942 to 8 million by 1945

I personally admire him for so many reasons, one being his well- roundedness. He was able to use scientific methods to analyze metals used for weapons and identify the best to use depending on the purpose. His background in business helped him with the statistical analyses of this research. He was also creative, helping plan and administer large scale war games that helped the army make adjustments to their strategies and doctrine. Being a well rounded person is something that I aim for in life, although I have fallen short. With McNair as an example, I know it is possible to combine disciplines like science, business, and creative thinking, to further a single goal. I also admire him because he was the youngest general at age 35 and he never let issues like his age get in the way of his success. Being a minority in several ways sometimes I feel as though I have to work twice as hard to prove that I am capable of what everyone else is. Even though McNair was not an ethnic minority, he was doubted heavily because of his age and he too had to work twice as hard to prove that he was just as good. McNair serves as an example to me to not allow how others perceive me to hinder what I know that I can do.

McNair is also uncredited for what he did concerning African American soldiers. At a time of segregation there were soldiers, known as Buffalo Soldiers, who were not allowed to train, fight, or die for their country next to their white counterparts. Since they were often seen as incompetent, their training sometimes lasted two years when white soldiers were trained and used within months. Lesley McNair was one of the first people in the army to advocate for their usefulness and helped to get them into battle. Although segregation in the military did not end until after WWII, McNair helped to start the movement.

I’ve never heard of McNair mentioned in my general WWII education, but I’m glad I had the opportunity to learn more about him, his personal story and his contributions to what makes the United States and the world a better place. He has influenced me not just as a motivational role model for what I can do for my country, but he has also help change how my people are viewed in society. Because of him and other heroes of WWII, I am able to live my life the way I do.

PÈRE LACHAISE AS TEXT

Jean Francois Champollion by Yahnell Judah of FIU in Père Lachaise on July 26th , 2018

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Jean Francois Champollion

The Rosetta Stone is one of the most widely known artifacts in the British Museum and for a long time it was known to hold writing from three ancient languages including hieroglyphics, but it could not be decoded. This was until Jean Francois Champollion, also known as the Father of Egyptology.

Jean Francois Champollion was born in Frigeac, France on December 23rd, 1790. He was always very studious and had an interest in languages, attempting to learn multiple, including Hebrew and Chinese, on his own. At just ten years old, he was sent to Grenoble to study and at age 16, he made a proposal concerning the language of Coptic Christians to the Grenoble Academy. Although some of his proposal was disproved years later, scholars still consider it to be an important stepping stone. He continued his education and even started teaching at the young age of 19. He earned a chair position at the Royal College of Grenoble and even gained the patronage of French kings. With this, he was able to travel to Egypt once in his life.

Champollion raced to decode hieroglyphics because his quest was not exclusive, other scholars were also attempting to read the lost language at the time. His first discovery in decoding was that some of the symbols stood for phonetic sounds and were part of an alphabet while other symbols were just visual representations of physical things. He did not study just the Rosetta Stone, however, it did play a very large role in his eventual full decoding. With this success, the world was able to understand not just the Rosetta Stone, but hieroglyphics on everything from ancient tombs to obelisks.

Even though we share almost no characteristics, physically or as a matter of background, I relate to his story. He was sent away to study at a very young age and that is a beautiful thing but can also come with some issues. Always being a year or two younger than everyone in my class growing up, I was always at a different stage in mental and emotional development and that was only a slight age difference. Even though studies were usually started at a younger age than what is the norm today, Champollion was still extremely young. Being sent away to study must have been challenging at the age of ten but it is impressive that he got through it and even became a professor by the age of nineteen which even at that time was very unusual.

Another reason I admire him is because of his legacy. It is not extremely obvious how it affects my day to day actions as a young woman in America like how the actions of many of the soldiers buried in Normandy do, however, he did have a global impact in discovering and helping to uncover the secrets of a civilization that has had a lasting impact on most of the world today. I admire that he is remembered for his hard work and dedication. Anyone studying Egypt today even, knows of Champollion because he was just that influential. There are people buried at the Pere Lachaise Cemetery that are remembered for other than what they did with their life. For example, Victor Noir is more so remembered for the statue over his grave instead of his work as a journalist and Jean Jacques Regis de Cambaceres is more renown for his vanity and homosexuality before he is regarded for his time developing Napoleonic law. I want my legacy to be based on the effort that I put into my work, rather than characteristics of myself that are out of my control. For that, I consider Champollion to be motivation for me in my studies and research.