“No map is complete without the inclusion of Utopia” is one of the many intriguingly memorable thoughts that Oscar Wilde used to produce on the spur of his many moments of genius. There is always an imaginary element to be associated with the physical experience of space, no cartographic reproduction is ever complete without the unseen connotations of centuries of projective thought. When one looks at the map of one’s country, memories or dreams are immediately associated with the places spotted at random. Foreign countries become especially alluring after inexplicable years of futile collective inprisonment, everyone has his own private place of escape.
It is no surprise that most Romanians (and indeed most people around the world) one meets choose as their ‘Utopia’ the ‘civilised’, Western part of the world, which includes Europe and the USA. For work or for leisure, it is a seemingly privileged territory, which has magnetised people in its global orbit. Surprinsingly, it hasn’t lost its lure even after the past century of violence, which had its main roots in ‘civilised’ Europe. Ideology, ever since it has replaced religion as the ‘arena’ of thought, has had a strong headquarters in Europe ever since the Enlightenment. They have moved a bit to the West, crossing an ocean, in the past decades, but the essence is still the same. The influence of the American ‘Big Brother’ has been growing ever since the glory days of the Marshall Plan. The once quarrelsome Europeans have finally agreed to sit down and talk about their collective future. It is only natural that it is easiest to agree on pragmatic, economic grounds rather than delicate ideologies and other such volatile criteria. Common quality standards were the first step towards a Europe that strived towards unity in order to be able to face the emerging superpowers. And thus a new ideology was born, full of new promises hopes and perspectives.
Hopefully these roses will conjure up a better future
The European Union is now a place without frontiers. Or so it seems. When the famous American frontier vanished into oblivion, the creativity of the ideologues come up with something completely different: Space, the final frontier, which served as a brilliant justification for billions spent on seductive space flights and great leaps forward to which the whole humankind applauded with dilligence. These are all signs of the compulsory progress of the human race. They are good things, no doubt about that. I am happy about not having to take my passport with me if I want to go on a shopping spree in neighbouring Budapest. I have dreamed about it during the unforgettably tedious wasted time waiting for the border officer to check my papers. The sum of hours misspent in this manner could add up to one day in my whole life. Frontiers literally are a nuisance and everybody would be happy to do without them. Except, of course, some wall-building emperors somewhere far, far away in the past…
Whether we like to admit it or not, the existence of frontiers shapes our existence in more ways than one can imagine. They shape our prejudices for no other reason than the simple “because it’s there”. And then we start creating imaginary frontiers. I can always remember crossing a thick, black line on my desk in order to prevent my deskmate from occupying space that ‘belonged’ to me. I wanted ‘my’ part of the desk only for myself and my colour pencils and notebooks. And then I needed a room of my own. My parents managed to purchase a larger apartment, and I finally got it. Since then I had plenty of space just for myself. And perhaps in twenty years time I will have a house just for me and my family. One does not need more to prove the existence of an indelible instinct for privacy, for ‘owning’ space, for separating and bordering space, an instinct present in everyone of us. It can’t be done away with, because it is part of human nature’s shadier side. The only way one can trick it, is to call the help of imagination and goodwill, the natural enemies of all all the shady parts of humanity.