European Misunderstanding

By André Gauron; Keith Torjoc | Go to book overview

Chapter 1
Historical Roots

Paris — La Défense. The Grande-Arche subway station. An escalator brings the visitor to the heart of a trade center. At the end of the hall is a sign indicating the “Sources of Europe” on a blue background, the color of the European Community. Hardly has the visitor perceived a corner of the sky, beyond the concrete walls between which he advances, when he goes down again and enters between frosted glass and steel. What a strange symbol this is, that seems to come from the depths of the earth, leading to a temple of consumerism; relations of power and the market, the modernity of the “Great Arch” and the impetuosity of Europe. Are these vivacious people bustling in every direction supposed to evoke the image of a gushing wellspring of Europe and its effervescent plans? The symbolism is strong, but it is misleading.

The place where the visitor comes looking for Europe is more like a crypt hidden under the flagstones of a cathedral than a bubbling spring. There is no opening that would restore Europe to life, that would allow a little light and air to enter. There is nothing that recalls a wellspring. The reception hall, a large concrete room weighed down by an immense, underutilized counter of shiny wood, invariably deserted, seems a good setting for meditation. The Bookshop-Cafeteria to the left does nothing to contradict this impression. One would like to hear voices there, to eavesdrop on passionate debates about European unification. But alas, only silence reigns! At the other end, a light shines but there is no sound that might attract you. A receptionist, motionless as

-15-

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