Mancando means dying away. It is one of the many Italian musical terms my guitar teacher hands me to learn off as the news breaks of the Notre Dame cathedral; as it was mancando. The pictures displayed it in blazing rapture. I mentioned it, my teacher. She chuckles. I tell her I’m dead serious. I show her the photo. She responds appropriately: “Holy shit”. I keep updated with the news. I read that people wept as the cathedral burnt. When the spire fell a child cried “The spire has fallen, the spire has fallen!” The spire crashed into the sanctuary. A treasure, a symbol, of Paris. Destroyed. People call it a tragedy. I learn it has stood for over 800 years. I reflect upon all the history it has witnessed; the trial of Joan of Arc, the French revolution and the terror that followed, the Napoleonic era, WWI, and another war: WWII, the Eiffel tower being built, the Jazz age, French existentialism and of recent the month’s passed the gilets jaunes. Notre Dame has not only witnessed history but rather, it is history.
This is the true tragedy of the fire—so they say. The world tuned in to see the impious flames tear down the tower. Twitter-friendly Donald Tusk tweeted how a European funded construction project should be conducted. Hence, the EU can save its history and save its solidity; which in recent years has been challenged by Spain’s Catalonia, Brexit and a multitude of other instances. This orients us to questions of preservation and solidity. However, first and foremost, who the hell is the EU?
Where to begin with the EU? Maybe, instead let’s ask another question: should buildings remain forever standing? Standing until humankind itself, falls; is it only then, at that point, that the buildings are going to be left alone to freely crumble and erode until they can trickle back into the earth? With Roman monuments being destroyed by ISIS in recent years it was horrendous. Arguably not because of the buildings being destroyed and moreover with them being essential monuments of history; but rather, as it was a direct attack on Western culture. More precisely an attack on a sense of pride that Europe and now the EU coats itself in.
This pride is how it considers itself superior to other continents. How they believe civilisation not to be born in the Fertile Crescent instead, blooming out of Europe from the ancients: Athens and Rome. Thinking they solely planted the seeds of culture for the western world to sprout. Furthermore, Europe centers itself as the center of modernity. Europe views itself as the discoverer of new worlds and the inventor of great technology. The
‘discovery’ of American is seen as a historic moment in history, insofar, as Europe prefers to think, that it was they who founded and liberated the land; it was they who tamed the great American prairie; it was they who sowed and cultivated American; in turn, it was they who made American. Albeit, each and every one of us knows, that the discovery of American was merely Europeans stumbling across a continent already with roaming human beings. It was only new to Europeans, which consequently they took to be a universal discovery. Homo sapiens had already planted themselves settled across American. Nevertheless, Europe loves to delude themselves, they love myths, and they made American their latest one in claiming it to be a new land that they had found; a new land that god had bestowed upon them.
Therefore, the new uncivilised land was in desperate need of conquest and a so-called liberation. All that Europe really accomplished was the establishment of an experiment. American can be seen as the great European experiment. An experiment where a multitude of Europeans, a diverse bunch, ventured out into the “New world” leaving the “Old world” behind. The outcome of this on-going experiment is arguable. It is at times the epicenter of new thoughts in science and art, at others its horror guts itself and bleeds shamelessly onto the fronts of newspapers. Additionally, it has transformed from a great European experiment to a new worldwide experiment. Now, and to be frank in the beginning too (although at the start it was predominantly Europeans), now, it has a diverse range of fish (which is wonderful). Europe sits and watches their experiment gone sour, as it is no longer their own. However, they have justified their legacy in a new manner. They have created a new experiment. The EU.
The EU is a new form of nationalism, a Continentalism. Continentalism is nationalism for an entire continent. The dangers of nationalism are apparent for the outsider and even more so from the half-awake insider. Examining Ireland alone and its previous nationalist idea of itself (and partially still). It was once dressed as a poor, rural, Catholic. Emphasis on the Catholic. This constructed a repressed, oppressed, O very blessed nation.
Where the Catholic Church controlled laws and people like Big Brother. Albeit, things have radically shifted, and now Ireland has become a sample subject in the EU’s continentalism project. Moreover, the new EU continentalism understands itself as civilisation. One that looks in the mirror and sees oneself as a redefined legacy, although mirrors can be deceiving. EU continentalism has held the notion that any country outside of it is: uncivilised, always at war and in dire need of EU aid. If someone dares travel outside Europe, a family member will question if that uncharted land is safe. Oh, Europe how kind you are to those less fortunate. To stress the insularity of the EU is to highlight one polices specifically. The common agricultural policy is tremendous to any EU state; as it encourages agricultural and allows for the EU agricultural market flourish. That’s the exact problem with it. It singly permits for the EU to flourish, to grow, to breathe in racks of economic prosperity. This prevents any developing nation to enter their products into the EU market because the competitiveness of the EU states with the common agricultural policies is practically impossible to beat. This allows Europe to protect itself, economically and culturally. In other words, Europe can preserve itself.
Finally, to the subject of preservation. Notre Dame works here like the common agricultural policy although, instead of agriculture it is culture as the subject of preservation. Europe desires, desperately, to use cultural symbols such as Notre Dame, as a means to justify its own continentalism.
Nevertheless, what will be a sea full of money to rebuild will, as the French president Macron claims, make it “more beautiful”. Europe, particularly the EU is presenting Notre Dame as a cultural symbol to establish and further develop this EU continentalism. This project is quite implicit, I doubt EU leaders and people are exactly aware of the continentalism they are constructing. However, their implicit project is similar to how Iraq more explicitly during the 1920’s revolution against Britain, established Iraqi nationalism by recognising or reconfiguring the Mesopotamia region and its ancient cultures of Assyrians, and Babylonia as its roots. This was to encourage the people into opposing British and western ideals. EU now, at this very instance, is creating this heritage of Europe. It is constructing its own false identity. It is spring boarding itself from the Christian cult to the EU cult. Notre Dame is a Catholic church being contorted and reconfigured from a Catholic symbol to a European Symbol.
Therefore, the EU wants to falsely perverse and literally reconstruct Notre Dame so they can build their new continentalism, one that stretches above and beyond the actual continent of Europe.
This preservation of Europe is one that the French president believes will spring forward solidarity. Solidarity in the eyes of Europe is fascinating. Its unity of nations is at one hand incredibly admirable, but on another hand, it is ruthless with its membership and regulations.
Its idea of solidarity is a strange deal. Once you are in the EU, they shower you with luxuries such as development projects, trade deals, travel, and a ‘voice’ in Europe. All the while they tighten their hold on you, choking what they need out of you, slowly and deceptively. If you decide to leave as the British have decided, they will not make it easy, albeit, they will maintain their formalities. Wait—elegance from the EU might actually be in question, I do vaguely recall hearing the EU mouthpiece claiming all those British people are going to their very own exclusive place in hell. I imagine this mouthpiece had pictured the rest of the EU in their own segment, a crueler, more horrid, segment of course, whilst the EU will tease Britain from the cell next door in the inferno.
Also, if you look closely at the EU’s segment in the inferno, you’ll see Spain gripping onto a smaller character such as themselves, from what I can tell it resembles Catalonia, although the blaze in the underworld makes it difficult to differentiate. Nonetheless, it is wonderful that the EU’s self-suffocation will carry onward after all its modern inequalities. Hopeful, its inherent structural issues will be solved, and it can actualise the potentiality that it does truly possess. For now, as it stands, its notion of solidarity is spending millions on an old Christian oppressive tower. Churches are meeting places, place of solidarity, they are army bases, homes, government buildings, schools, prisons, concentration camps, and they are a place of sanctuary, and to repeat they are a place of solidarity. A strange twisted oppressive solidarity it is. An organisation that forces morality, some that are in fact useful and beneficial to society, whilst others that are extremely oppressive. Did Nietzsche’s madman not already claim that “God is dead”?
“God remains dead. And we have killed him.” Was that murder of god not planned? Has western society not already decided that Christian religion must fade, insofar to make way for the new religion of the EU; its crest is now an azure blue and with encircling golden stars. A much better god indeed, but it is trapped in its invented history. Why is it that solidarity of the EU must be expressed in economic support of a cult building? Art is important and brings people together and express that what cannot be said. Yet, why should art preservation be the ultimate manifestation of solidarity in Europe? There is a migrant crisis with people in the most sickening, oppressive, inhumane, unjust conditions. One of the many ongoing, reoccurring, social issues that are rampant in Europe. It is not just the EU who want the reconstruction of Notre Dame it is also the people of the EU. The EU, in question here, is merely an organisation of that with its ideological values that were built through a collective EU propagation. A transfusion of people from varied and diverse backgrounds of Europe threw themselves together to give birth and growth to a new set of values.
These values are instilled and enforced by the EU. The value of art and its role in society becomes the question here. Why is it that people genuinely, wholeheartedly wish for Notre Dame to be re-built? These people, us, you, me; all want this magnificent building to continue to stand. It was a tragedy that shouldn’t have fallen in the first place. Has art reached a point of elevation that it has transcended to the point where the history of oppression that lies between the crevices of Notre Dame building itself is wholly ignored?
Notre Dame is a symbol of the church, not a symbol of Europe, and for a matter of fact, it would be a disgrace and injury to the project of solidarity in the EU if it should be rebuilt. President Emmanuel Macron has said he wants the church to be “more beautiful”; this is a courageous thing to assert, albeit let us dare to be braver and proclaim that we should not rebuild Notre Dame, rather we should rebuild and continue to build a strong, safe, selfless Europe. Let us defund oppression; defund the church; defund the illusions of an exclusive Europe, let us fund the European people and not only create a more beautiful Europe, but a more beautiful world.