Noir Désir, “Europe” (2001)

If Allen Ginsberg’s poem “Howl” fucked Hunter S. Thompson’s hallucinatory gonzo journalism, it would give birth to Noir Désir’s song “Europe,” a 23-minute full-on freak out lament/dirge for Europe in the age of the EU. Half the time I was translating the lyrics, I was completely bewildered. But that’s kind of the charm of the song. I did my best with the lyrics, but I really think I screwed it up in some places. It was pointed out to me today that I don’t often give myself permission to make mistakes, especially in my creative endeavors. I don’t produce much, in the ways of drawing and creative writing, so each piece becomes overly-dear to me. I guess that’s what this blog has helped with. Pure production. I had a drawing teacher once who said, “90% of what you will produce will be crap. You have to get through that 90% to make it to the 10% that makes drawing worth it.” Rather than being discouraged by that remark, I felt freed. I was like, Well, if I’m going to produce 90% crap, that’s just statistics. I don’t need to get all tore up about every little drawing I do when it doesn’t turn out perfect. I’ll eventually get to that awesome 10%. And so here I am, producing my 90% of crap.

Europe on YouTube.

The bloodhounds are loose.
I repeat:
The bloodhounds are loose.

The small business owners are making diamond necklaces.
Twice.

Europe’s roses are a feast for Satan.
I repeat:
Europe’s roses are a feast for Satan.

We are now working for Europe. (x4)
Nay, for the world.

Dear old Europe, dear old continent, authoritative whore,
aristocrat and libertine, bourgeois and laborer,
all flushed and decorated with grand centuries and stumbling giants.
Look at your hunched shoulders, with no way to dust off with a brush of your hand,
a single brush, the old dust, yesterday’s dead skin and tabula rasa…

From here it’s easy to believe there’s noble decrepitude in the air.
It’s still hanging in the air, in this sulfurous stench. Filthy old Europe,
who, between the Wars and even during, rubbed the bellies of far away countries
for its own benefit, and, dick in hand, sprayed its sperm on the native’s genitals.
Can we get back up after that? We can get back up after anything, even endless falls.
We were able to climb, we were able to descend, we can stop
and pick ourselves back up…
Europe of the Enlightenment, or of the Dark Ages;
Hardly any fireflies in the theaters of shadow.
Hardly a spark in the night that takes hold and then begins again,
And then the new dawn, after the crimes of childhood,
the mistakes of youth, we no longer tear the wings off golden dragonflies.

We’re now working for Europe.
Nay, for the world.
Amnesty, amnesty or maybe amnesia, what do you want that to matter,
we have to keep moving forward, no matter what, push your comrades on faster,
and then produce, produce, there’s always something moving!
Materialistic, then that means at least we’re sure we’re not wrong
and we’re sure of what’s tangible until it gives us indigestion, we’re sure of what’s rational,
until we die from it, we’re sure of implacable logic and never of meaning…
Hey, Princess of History on her forced march,
We’ll get lost passing through her centuries-old arches.

Nay, the world.
We’re now working for Europe.

We’ve gone past your bygone mysteries, gone past your bygone mysteries,
We’ve gone past your bygone mysteries, and reached the technocrat’s charms…
Oh Europe, oh Europe, oh Europe.
Brussels, Schengen, Strasbourg, Maastricht, GDP, GDP, EEC, Euratom, OECD, GATT*

[*Translation Note: These cities all have a connection with the European Union: Brussels (Belgium) is the de facto capital; Schengen (Luxembourg) is where the Schengen Agreement was signed, abolishing border control among many European countries; Strasbourg (France) is the seat of the parliament of the EU; Maastricht (Netherlands) is the city where the European Union and its currency, the Euro, were born.

GDP = Gross Domestic Product
EEC = European Economic Community, renamed the European Community after the Maastricht Treaty created the European Union
Euratom = European Atomic Energy Commmittee (nuclear energy developers/distributors, governed by the EU)
OECD = Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, forum of European countries dedicated to democracy and market economies
GATT = General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, multilateral agreement regulating international trade]

Protect us and our market from this MAI common to a too-small world.
The only Eurocurrency, NASDAQ and CAC40, orgiastic, idyllic, made of poetry,
Support culture, produce spectacles and entertainment
Like our brothers across the Atlantic say and knock, knock old Europeans,
new masters of the world, while the Asian dragon dreams, does his stretches,
he is beautiful and powerful, gently spitting fire.

*MAI = Multilateral Agreement on Investment; CAC40 = The French equivalent of the NASDAQ.

Meanwhile, Ernest-Antoine Seillière* appears on the scene and declares his love for us.
He loves us and tells us:
“We are not like politicians, who fold under the pressure of the people on the street.”
And we hear in the distance the din of the crowd,
the beautiful movements of the many, the glorious parade, and then the class warfare.

*Seillière: President of the MEDEF (Mouvement des Entreprises de France, the largest union of employers in France; served from 1997-2005)

And now it’s for real, oh baby, it’s for real, we don’t believe in anything anymore,
We concoct this business and basta, we’re not on Pegasus’ back.
That was just to feel ecstatic, and it’s over.
Extension, expansion if it’s possible, but there’s no dream for us to carry,
Only the dynamics.
First the money, baby, and the rest will follow, and the rest will come,
That’s what they say.
I believe in the past era, blessed by the world-eaters.
Dear old Europe, you don’t know your head from your legs, which often
don’t recognize your arms, how does it keep going?
How does a strange body move to its body; we don’t know and we don’t care
We embrace each other anyway and then we’re right.
Filthy old Europe, do you remember, the violent brutality, the moody East,
burning war, cold war, and finally the weary war, the weary war.

We’re now working for Europe.

You wanted them and now you’ve got them, schools for work performance, and now you have bosses,
Creators of the Global Business Dialogue or Electronic Commerce
To sit, clucking about all the anomalies to come from this cultural whatchamacallit

Histories of producers and consumers, from the producer to the consumer,
from the producer to the consumer, and the intermediaries who don’t care,
your whole soul is worn our on this endless path and on all this coming and going, we’re going,
Us too, profit, no reason, after all it’ll be okay,
We won’t have enough for everyone, there’ll be some for everyone,
We said for everyone, for everyone, for everyone, my ass!

How high are you going to raise your ramparts?
Where are you going to rebuild your new defensive walls?

Something is stuck in our throat and we want to spit it up,
It’s not much, but you may, madam,
Speak to us, for not all is lost, no, not all is lost
of your myths of dawn, here the sun shines for everyone and we believe in it.

We are now working for Europe.
Nay, for the world.

Something is stuck in our throat and we want to spit it up,
It’s not much, but you may, madam,
Speak to us, for not all is lost, no, not all is lost
of your myths of dawn, here the sun shines for everyone and we believe in it.

The herpes on your faces
I repeat:
The herpes on your face.
The sighs of the saint and the cries of the fairy
are no longer heard at the banquet of bankers.
Once.
The hermit’s cooking pot is overflowing with rubies.
I repeat:
The hermit’s cooking pot is overflowing with rubies.

Old Europe is the madam of the pink processions.
Twice.
When the sirens are quiet, the birds of prey cry.
The red and black of the tortures are the Flowers of Evil*
I repeat:
The red and black of the tortures are the Flowers of Evil

*Flowers of Evil: Charles Baudelaire’s famous collection of poems; the red and black colors typically signify the dual power of the Army and the Clergy. See: Stendhal’s novel, The Red and The Black.

The West’s day is the East’s night.
Twice,
The West’s day is the East’s night.

I’m no jingoist, but France is the queen of cheeses.
Cuthbert Calculus* is a fool.
Six times.
The blood spilt is tea for the giants at the fair.
Twice.

*Cuthbert Calculus: Tryphon Tournesol, a character in the incredibly popular French comic, Tintin.

It’s raining cats and dogs on the Concorde.
It’s raining cats and dogs on the Concorde.
Underage models are Europe’s elected representatives.
I repeat:
Underage models are Europe’s elected representatives.

Fuck certainty.
Twice.
The bigwigs’ insanity is killing the mockingbirds.
I repeat:
The bigwigs’ insanity is killing the mockingbirds.
If you can’t find anything, look for something else.

Peace in Switzerland.
I repeat:
Peace in Switzerland.
The weddings of blood are burning the horizon.
Twice.
Europe’s mascara is running on the breast plates.
Twice.

Life begins now– and now– and now.

Europe is a little, mortal goddess.
Twice.

Art’s infancy is a sunrise.
I repeat:
Art’s infancy is a sunrise.

We’re now working for Europe…

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