Thursday, April 24, 2008

European Time Capsule

Individualistic, skeptic, snobbish, multi-layered, superior, romantic, guilt, democracy, large middle classes, Bildung, division of state and church...

This was the list of European characteristics of one of the speakers at the conference European Culture -Just Do It, a networking event of the European Union National Institutes of Culture which I am attending as a speaker. I defended in the panel my position that although I recognise Europe's troubled and glorious history, it does not work as a source of inspiration nor does it give a role to the individual. And to be honest, I understand the elite's wishes to talk about Europe as the (super)state of criticism and skepticism but I am not sure if I want to be European based on that list.

Some other fascinating quotes from the day were:
"Europe is a nowhere culture which is not about real life."
"What are the two things you would put into a European time capsule?"
"What do we exhibit at the metaphorical European embassy in China?"
"Europe is outside itself."
"Europe is in moral decay."
"European Union is a coverup of the market."

I don't know. I am feeling even more clearly that maybe something has gone wrong with my European upbringing but I am just not too interested in Europeanness which builds on anti-Americanism, elitism and resentment of private ownership or the English language. For me Europe needs to make sense and it needs to link to the individual. It needs to be clear what Europe wants me to do and what do I get in return. It might be that we need a better advertising agency.

Over dinner tonight the red wine speeded the brainstorming and we created more and more opposition towards cynicism and skepticism. Skepticism is releasing yourself from the responsibility. We all agreed that we need common goals and we need a culture that does not punish one for naivety or for trying.

But a question for you, dear reader: what are the two things you would put into the time capsule of Europe that is sent to Mars? I have personally still problems with the second thing but I am quite confident that I would like to put in some Legos.

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