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July 23, 2013

You hold an audience of sorts later that evening in a bar just off Place Saint Louis. Three Messines huddle around a darkwood table, half-empty glasses before them throwing back your regard. You have posed to them the question:

What makes Metz Metz and, by extension, a Messin Messin?

The answers are variegated and fit ill at the joints.

One responds that it is simply a matter of loving the city, of experiencing a sublime feeling of belonging within its bounds, no matter one’s own personal disposition or emotional makeup. Another of them touches on the architecture, of the thorough catalogue of Western European styles to be seen in the city, from the Roman through the present. The third offers the suggestion that it is instead the sight of the city in the snow, the Jaumont brilliant beneath the white. By this point, you have lost track of who speaks and who listens. The city and its secrets, such as a distinctive image said to be suspended above a former brothel, somewhere in Centre Ville. A knowledge of the city’s history and the related political turnover.

The answers run together in your mind. Correct attributions are now out of the question. Still, you now confront the problem of whether the answer is the answer or might instead be something beyond the scope of those provided.

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