I came into work Monday to a live report from NPR—something I regard as rare these days. Notre Dame is burning. As soon as I heard, I whipped out my phone and scanned through columns of smoke, skeletal steeples, and bright orange destruction. Tuesday, Howard Stern announced that he’s maybe, kinda, sorta considering retirement.
In 1831, Victor Hugo published Notre-Dame de Paris as an answer to the Parisian regimes tearing down medieval buildings left and right. His historical fiction saved a national monument. Not only that but he cemented the significance and history of that cathedral firmly into the French consciousness. It stood, and may stand again, as a symbol of safety and sanctuary for Parisians.
Stern attributed his feelings toward retirement to stress and anxiety, a feeling most Americans know all too well. “When I’m home on the weekends I’m fine. And when I come here [meaning work] all kinds of shit happens,” he said, according to Radar Online. What is it in our culture that pushes people into dark places?
While the entertainment industry burns down when Stern makes a simple suggestion that he might retire soon, Macron has already begun to plan out a five-year reconstruction plan for the cathedral. Right now the French people must be dropping coins in boxes. Around 500 million dollars has been pledged toward the reconstruction effort. Rich and poor alike have gotten involved already.
What does America have that would warrant this sort of outpouring? Where have we invested our history? The Hollywood Bowl? The Gateway Arch? Howard Stern? I’d like to see Howard Stern fit that many saints inside him. Even the White House doesn’t carry as much significance and history as that cathedral.
Monday, French citizens saw their security and sanctuary go up in smoke. They say that one’s home is one’s cathedral. It sounds like Stern really needs a Notre Dame right now—we all do. In the words of Victor Hugo, “His cathedral was enough for him.”