Angry Germans, thieving Burgundians, arrogant French, lying Scots, English tail-bearers, treacherous Corsicans, fraudulent Romans. A troupe of caricatures was paraded before the students, themselves a heterogenous group gathered from the corners of Europe. Ripples of laughter filled the classroom. Shoulders were slapped, fingers pointed, hearts fired up. Perhaps a little scuffle broke out after class, a boisterous wrestling over insults exchanged. Nothing to be concerned about. Acquiring knowledge was, after all, a combative affair.
How could it be that despite decades of rigorous European unification, of open borders and largely adjusted standards of living, a virus was able to kill up to 40 times more people in one country than in another, only a few hundred kilometers away?
Wie konnte es sein, dass trotz jahrzehntelanger rigoroser europäischer Einigung, offener Grenzen und weitgehend angeglichener Lebensstandards ein Virus in einem Land bis zu 40 Mal mehr Menschen töten konnte als in einem anderen, nur wenige hundert Kilometer entfernt?
Relics, and the places devoted to their worship, dotted the map of Europe and the Middle East. Saints, like today’s celebrities, were both omnipresent and faraway, once-vulnerable people who became something more than human.
La capital de Europa es, en ese sentido, un espejo cóncavo que devuelve un reflejo concentrado (y algo deforme) de la imagen que proyecta el continente.
Brussels is a concave mirror that returns a concentrated (and somewhat distorted) reflection of the projection of its continent.
Matthew of Vendôme, Ars versificatoria, translated by R. P. Parr (Milwaukee, 1981), p. 28