THE RHINE - NOTES (Ren - notatki)
The narrator of this brief sketch spent several hours in Basel before the European Championship quarter final between Portugal and Germany. Sitting on a stone riverbank and dipping his toes in the Rhine, he ponders on Europe, its intellectual-political image and contemporary condition. In this manner, Basel, located along the borderline between three states, becomes the heart of the Continent, and the Rhine, which, the author claims, is a frontier dividing Europe into the West and the Central East (Roman and barbarian), is its main blood vessel. In the presented text, Basel, which survived both world wars untouched, appears to be a sui generis place beyond time (or actually above time) and space. Here, the experience of the gas chambers is not constitutive - something that an inhabitant of Central-Eastern Europe finds, on the one hand, inconceivable and, on the other hand, greatly perspectivistic since it does not create any restraints. This is the reason why the situation of the narrator in Basel differs from the one in places defiled by war; in other words, he is at liberty to do slightly more. This is also the reason why the sketch has the form of loose notes (as if made on the margin of an exercise book), whose outcome and order are determined only by the origin of the author's associations with the Rhine and Basel. Hence also such a wide spectrum of the described figures (the inventor of iperite Fritz Haber, Rembrandt, Nietzsche, Hitler, De Muralt, Frederic Hölderlin) and places (Bolimów, Mauthausen, Dahlem, Ypres) - all to answer, if only partly, the question: what is Europe and what does its phenomenon consist of?
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