One of the shorter works of Heidegger happens to be on the painting by Van Gogh, the painting of a pair of old beat-up shoes. In his essay Heidegger describes the shoes as those of a peasant, which gives the philosopher an opportunity to illustrate a few of his neo-metaphisical notions dealing with the issues rooted in the local and quotidian.
Years after, an American Art historian uncovered that the shoes belonged to Van Gogh himself, which in turn provoked Derrida to claim the shoes for the concentration camp victims, refugees and all the displaced persons wondering the planet in the wake of World War II.
All these claims and counter-claims came back to me at Musee Labinet of Versailles where I met a pair of worn-out XVII century slippers, labeled as the shoes of Marie-Antoinette. The Heideggerian strife for authenticity wouldn’t help there, even if the Queen wore them to milk cows at her toy farm, whereas the Derridian strategy of claiming the shoes for all the women guillotined during the days of Terror would.
I can see l’Autrichienne share her shoes with all the women and men executed by the French Revolution; but this has also brought back memories, when like a dog with an old shoe I declared myself a sworn enemy to all the puppies staring off the Hallmark cards, their big sad eyes tapping into my emotional pool, “Ah! Cute puppies!” For what should a reader say when a sentimental old dog like myself writes a dead puppy text? Nothing but, “Ah! Poor, poor dead puppies!”