By Denis Guénoun
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72 4. The Holy Roman Empire We are now equipped with three figures (of the universal). Two are bound together: church and empire. The third, Europe, follows them. Unsurprisingly, they have a few attributes in common. An unavoidable question then arises: how did we move from the former to the latter? The Europe Crossways 33 question remains, even supposing that the church and the empire are contemporaneous and in accord (the name of this articulation being Rome). 73 My fifth hypothesis intends to answer this question: Europe configures itself facing Islam.
This bestial apparition is erotic: indeed, eros is the desire to touch, which has overtaken the young women. In fact, the bull has stopped near Europē and “kept licking her neck, and cast his spell over the maiden” (p. 193)—which, like the seduction by smell, is the way of an animal. Then he quietly invited her to climb (onto his broad back). Inviting her friends to do the same, she smiled and “sat down on the back of the bull”; and that is when he “leaped up immediately . . and swiftly he sped to the deep [the sea]” (p.
But it is also the Mediterranean, the sea between land masses. Finally, it is the Occident, the west, where the sun goes down. We shall have to come 26 Europe Crossways back to all these characteristics—and ask ourselves, Why is Rome the place of the joined institutions of the empire and the church, the locus of their conjunction, the unity of their site, without any fusion or confusion between them—all this, in spite of permanent temptations, in spite of the indefinite historical reiteration (in the history of the empire, the church, and then Europe) of the endless caesaro-papist dream, the major fantasy of all European despots?