Friday, February 25, 2005

group hug

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Most Americans know nothing of the location, composition, or purpose of the European Union. There is no shame in such ignorance, for most Europeans are in the same position – rather worse, indeed, given that they are the ones who are meant to be experiencing a pleasant sensation of unity. If anything, the view from the States is more precise: Europe is that Shrek-shaped landmass to the left of the Middle East, and the European Union, or E.U., must therefore be the constitutional equivalent of a group hug, designed to insure that no Finn, say, will ever launch a first-strike attack on a Greek.

Thus begins a commentary by Anthony Lane (in the current issue of the New Yorker) in which he refers to this page on the E.U. Web site, the purpose of which is apparently to set the record straight regarding E.U. regulations and/or positions which may have been misrepresented in the press. As Lane points out, there is ample and express information regarding such burning issues as pigs at play, cucumber curvature, and hardhats for acrobats – but such decisive matters as Europe’s exact geography (Turkey anyone?) and its ultimate goals (superstate perhaps?) remain as ambiguous as its constituents’ understandings of it.

Lane suggests that all the vagueness is intentional, in that it is likely to bore the people into submission. (And to what will they be submitting themselves in their half-asleep, submissive state? The European Constitution! You can’t read it even if you want to, so why not just vote yes?) There may not be any shame in such ignorance, on either side of the Atlantic, but there should be.


Photo (Brussels, Belgium, 1999) by Stephen Hughes, whom the New Yorker calls the “demure poet” of the European aesthetic, “concerning himself less with the ghastly spectacle of modern life than with the monuments of strange beauty.”

5 Comments:

Blogger DiS said...

Ααααα, το Atom!

(τι μποτιλιάρισμα είχα φάει από κάτω του, Θεούλη μου!)

11:52 am EET  
Blogger DiS said...

Περίμενες σοβαρότερο σχόλιο, φαντάζομαι αλλά με κουράζουν πολύ οι αμερικανικές αναλύσεις περί του τι είναι η EU και σε τι χρησιμεύει.

Ας τους πει κάποιος ότι, όταν με το καλό μάθουμε και μεις θα τους ενημερώσουμε. Αν και, για μένα, το μέγιστο επίτευγμα της ΕΕ είναι ο συμβιβασμός. Το να βρίσκονται τόσα κράτη μέσα σε μια μαρμίτα και, τελικά, σέρνοντας και σκούζοντας ίσως, κάπου και για κάποια θέματα να βγαίνει μια "ολική" πολιτική. Τώρα θα μου πει κανείς, και στις ΗΠΑ, με τις πολιτείες τους, μια απ' τα ίδια δεν συμβαίνει; Ίσως ναι. Αλλά στις ΗΠΑ δεν παρατηρείτε τόση μεγάλη απόκλιση στις "κουλτούρες" των λαών.

Ουφ,ξέρω γω; Μάλλον εκτός θέματος είμαι πάλι!

12:09 pm EET  
Blogger DiS said...

Περίμενες σοβαρότερο σχόλιο, φαντάζομαι αλλά με κουράζουν πολύ οι αμερικανικές αναλύσεις περί του τι είναι η EU και σε τι χρησιμεύει.

Ας τους πει κάποιος ότι, όταν με το καλό μάθουμε και μεις θα τους ενημερώσουμε. Αν και, για μένα, το μέγιστο επίτευγμα της ΕΕ είναι ο συμβιβασμός. Το να βρίσκονται τόσα κράτη μέσα σε μια μαρμίτα και, τελικά, σέρνοντας και σκούζοντας ίσως, κάπου και για κάποια θέματα να βγαίνει μια "ολική" πολιτική. Τώρα θα μου πει κανείς, και στις ΗΠΑ, με τις πολιτείες τους, μια απ' τα ίδια δεν συμβαίνει; Ίσως ναι. Αλλά στις ΗΠΑ δεν παρατηρείτε τόση μεγάλη απόκλιση στις "κουλτούρες" των λαών.

Ουφ,ξέρω γω; Μάλλον εκτός θέματος είμαι πάλι!

12:09 pm EET  
Blogger dystropoppygus said...

Actually, this is a very light-hearted blog: one should comment as they see fit. Or have a fit. This picture sissoula chose brought back memories (can't help thinking - most things I see bring some memories back, so I must be getting old or what). This bench there could be the one we had sat on, before Haralambos took us to the nearby multiplex to watch "Total Recall" (yes, so old the memories are). Brussels is not a city I miss but not a pain either.

Toying with your "total" policy comment (you do mean "synthesis" there, don't you?), it's easy to accuse American analysts on how they fail to perceive European sensitivities. I mean, just read any review of their (our) Prez's current visit. But, reading a most zig-zaged analysis Shakespeare's Sister was kind to point us to, this conservative-liberal dichotomy is as far as they can go that side of the Atlantic. Not so in Europe. We got more hues on our rainbow. This necessitates more compromises, naturally. On the other hand, this also permits Europeans to at least appear a more colourful bunch. Now, isn't that a nice thing?

12:33 pm EET  
Blogger sissoula said...

DiS, digressing from the topic is often better than staying on it. And at least you have the courage of conviction to say your opinion twice! I don’t think Europe is any more or less diverse than America, despite its languages and wars and independent markets. Sometimes what looks like more really is less. The McDonalds effect recognizes no borders, but I still think diversity is the backbone of identity, and mutual respect (not conformity) is the basis of solidarity. This leaves us neither here nor there (see? the traffic jam was perfectly relevant) but all these paradoxes are cool to think about.

12:35 pm EET  

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