Jacob Meyer: France as Text 2022

Images Taken by Jacob Meyer // CC by 4.0

Jacob Meyer is a senior currently studying for a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations with a certificate in Human Rights and Political Transitions at Florida International University. He hopes one day to be a leader in the global political sphere. He eventually wants to break down barriers by studying various languages and traveling all around the world. While being fluent in German and English, he has studied languages such as French, Spanish, and Mandarin. In his free time, he likes to go out with friends, play piano, and cook.

Lyon as Text

Images Taken by Jacob Meyer // CC by 4.0

‘Weight of Morals’

By Jacob Meyer of FIU at Lyon, France on July 7, 2022

The Weight of Oneself Statue was an extremely impactful piece of art to learn about during my time in Lyon. I believe that the placement and context of the state really was the perfect combination. My interpretation behind the art is that it represents the idea that justice is equitable for everybody. It further digs into a criticism of the justice system by creating a sense of accountability in individuals by showing a message that if people want an equitable system of justice then they need to hold themselves accountable to that standard. The location of the statue was even more impactful to the meaning and my own interpretation of the art.

The piece was located next to the river outside the Palais de Justice in Vieux Lyon. This court of law was used to house the first trails for Crimes Against Humanity after World War II. In my career, I want to work in the scope of human rights and protect those who are innocent victims in times of war.

The combination elements of this piece of art that I interpreted and the location really had powered my willingness to fight for other’s human rights as well as calling out whatever country I choose to work in if they choose the hypocrisy of calling other countries out for human rights violations but ignoring or covering up their own violations. I hope after going back to the United States and even working in the international political sphere, I am able to not just fix the problems internationally but domestically as well.

Izieu as Text

Images Taken by Jacob Meyer // CC by 4.0

‘Serenity to Atrocity: Contrast of Life’

By Jacob Meyer of FIU at Maison d’Izieu on July 10, 2022

Upon entering the property of Maison d’Izieu, stepping out onto a beautiful landscape surrounded by mountains and a lake that is colored a refreshing blue. The breathtaking scenery and old French architecture made me feel welcomed into a home of happiness and bliss. After taking in the scenery and talking about situations that happened during World War II, we entered the house that changed my perspective on everything regarding the atrocities that occurred. Observing the poems and works of art that the children created gave an insight on what their lives were like and even gave a perspective on their view of the world. Moving around the house gave a deeper connection on how these individuals spent some of the final happiest moments of their life.

Upon walking into a room filled with pictures of the children and seeing the happiness on their faces, a realization came to me. I have had to separate myself from atrocities that occur in the world due to my career and it has been difficult for me to really connect to horrible situations. Seeing the picture of each child and being in the place where they were the happiest brought an extreme sense of empathy to me. It was harrowing sight to see the contrast between the joyous scenery and a heart-wrenching ending. The contrast between these two made the experience and story unique as you feel as if you are living their lives.

The most humbling experience was reading the letters that these children wrote to their parents. It reminds you of when you were a child, being sent to camp and writing about the most ecstatic time of your childhood and to see it be robbed from them, not having a happy ending as many of us did, eats away at you. In this moment, I also found a sense of peace and ambition to help those who face many similar situations today.

Paris as Text

Images Taken by Jacob Meyer // CC by 4.0

Fake Front or Closer to God?

By Jacob Meyer of FIU at La Basilique de Saint-Denis on July 4, 2022

The Basilique de Saint-Denis was built in the year 1135 in order to serve as a ode to Saint Denis. The story of Saint Denis is a very interesting one as he was prosecuted and sentenced to death.  He was beheaded on top of Montmartre and then proceeded to carry his head several kilometers until he reached the site of where the Basilique de Saint-Denis is today. The architecture of the cathedral is gothic inspired with stain glass windows that not only tell stories from the bible but from the time as well. As you walk further into the cathedral you see tombs of kings and queens from the past. The tombs make you feel as if they have some bit of life still left in them as the figures keep their eyes open waiting for the final judgement.

The energy that the Basilique de Saint-Denis gave me was an eerie yet nostalgic feeling. As I grew up Catholic before eventually leaving the religion, the gothic architecture and ambience of the cathedral allowed me to envision what a whole service would be like. As I was envisioning a service in the church, I could sense a more religious experience with the combination of the echoes of the organ and the breath-taking art that surrounds you.

I never got to experience anything like this as a kid since we grew up with smaller and more Americanesque Catholic churches. It made me reflect on if I would have stayed in the religion and feel more connected to the practice if I were to attend a place like this. I wish I could say there is a definite answer to this reflection as I have gone back and forth with it. No matter my answer, I did find curiosity in those who chose to be buried there.

I could not help but to make perceptions on the way each individual viewed the world and their practice based on how they designed their tombs. One in particular, Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, seemed as if their tomb was a way to try to repent their horrible doings onto the state of France. This forgiving portrayal of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette brings up reflections on the covering up of incidents such as pedophilia in the church and how these grand cathedrals can be used as a great act so that things can be swept under the rug. This brings back the point of leaving the practice due to the preaching’s not aligning with my views of the world as I believe there should be transparency especially in larger institutions. Does holyness give forgiveness on these horrible acts or is the church built on hypocrisy?

Versailles as Text

Images Taken by Jacob Meyer // CC by 4.0

To Live or To Fight

By Jacob Meyer of FIU at Versailles Museum & Gardens on July 3, 2022

Versailles was a palace envisioned by Louis XIV in order to bring him increased safety in security as the royal family resided in Paris, a location that is closer to the citizens. In order to construct this iconic structure, Louis XIV originally hired Italian artist Bernini to design the palace. After some disagreements between Louis XIV and Bernini, he was sent back to Italy after Louis XIV decided to design the palace with only French architects and artists. This allowed for Louis XIV to fund and open schools for artists and sculptures to increase the amount of people in art around France.

Later, during Louis XVI rule, the negatives of Versailles became more prominent. The monarchy became more and more disconnected from the people of France. It was a clear difference between Louis XIV and Louis XVI ways of ruling. Louis XIV was a more extroverted and confident leader that allowed him to connect to the people while he lived in Paris. However, Louis XVI was a more introverted leader and being in Versailles during the time of his rule created a complete separation from the monarchy and the citizens of France.

While exploring the grounds of the palace, it was very clear that Louis XVI was completely disconnected from the citizens, and it even showed in the art depicting him. In his face you can see looks of concern and even doubt. The main question that I asked myself while walking around is if I would be one to partake in the French Revolution in order to overthrow the monarchy. I truly believe that I would be partaking in the forefront of the revolution. I joined my career to stand up to injustices going out through the world and the actions of the monarchy at the time would have made me infuriated. I also would not be one to think about the more dangerous consequences. During the 2020 Black Lives Matters protests in Miami, we were shot at and tear gassed which showed me that I had the willingness to risk my own well being in order to ensure a better future.

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