The Spiritual Work
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Summary THE SPIRITUAL WORK
Everybody is aware that the world is in the middle of an epochal crisis of late. I’m not just talking about the economic crisis, but of the great upheaval in every field, in every country, which is actually pushing us towards a major change. Sometimes the passage to a new world seems to be progressing within an orderly evolution, other times it evolves into violence and destruction: all in all, what is actually taking place is a more and more sweeping and explosive transformation.
What is the attitude of culture and art in such a dramatic situation?
On one hand, there is the unquestionable progress of science as well as the rational interpretation of the world, which contributes to an ever-growing level of culture, more widespread than it has ever been before. On the other hand, science and technology have also brought about such an explosion of production and consumption that, besides improving well-being, has most unfortunately brought about rampant materialism, lowering values and causing environmental destruction, not to mention a myriad of other unbalancing and conflicting factors.
Nonetheless, we are also placing a new focus on our roots, psychologically and historically and religiously, which launches a counter-directional and complementary movement to the current trends. Together with this, a growing consciousness of moral, social and environmental values is emerging as the meeting point of rationality and the love for mankind and nature, possibly of a newly re-found God, which can ultimately balance the ideological, technological and materialistic frenzy of our time.
We thus need to join these positive outcomes, trying to develop a wider and more comprehensive understanding than the one provided by science, through delving into the union between reason and sentiment, nature and civilization, which will afford us access to a better world.
In the first place, we have to dig into ourselves, where the origin of the problem actually is; in the second place, reinforced by our new self-awareness, we need to focus on the construction of our cities, which are the actual places and the reflection of our society and of the entire world, in order to properly change them as well.
In our cities, all human gestures leave a trace behind and this currently seems to speak of violence, chaos and destruction; but we won’t be lingering here with typical complaints which do often nothing but making problems worse because of their barren approach. Rather, it is mandatory to look for a real intention in order to bring us back to beauty and humanity.
We have to build houses in our cities and so we can’t avoid dealing with architecture as well, also benefiting from the great possibilities of the contemporary age. It’s not just an argument for insiders, because we all share not only the chance of enjoying the most fortunate results but also the discomfort of living in cages created by theoretical abstractions, by technological inventions for inventions’ sake, or for the rules of business and the establishment.
We then need to turn our attention to the art world, most of which seems to be currently accepting or even fostering the worst aspects of our age, rather than opening up to the better world it already includes and to all the relevant hopes and ideals expressed there. Visual arts have entered a confused cycle, re-presenting the same and worn-out ideas, in a self-addressing proposal of perverted tendencies which only promote empty communication or get submitted to the art market.
And to think that the mission of art should be (and in the past actually was) to reveal that what is real, beautiful and divine lies within us!
But human and divine have got so blurred that mankind can only float in darkness nowadays. In such confusion and uncertainty, we are putting incredible emphasis on the idea of the “Contemporaneity”, which could also make us smile at its ephemeral nature, if we didn’t consider that this ultimately betrays a truly dramatic feature instead: being constantly anxious about a future that is never to come. While awaiting the Apocalypse, we’ve been living in an eternal present time which we pass playing and having fun. Isn’t most of contemporary art, fashion, advertising and “consumer-toys” production just this? Doesn’t most architecture make us languish in inhuman towns? And is philosophy still true to its original meaning of love for wisdom, that is to say for truth and beauty, or does it rather get lost in the ideological and materialistic tunnel of a mind away from the heart of the man? And finally, is religion still able to talk to our mind and heart, as it should, to help us approach God and thus combine (etymologically: religere) the painful and widespread fragments of the world and of ourselves into a divine unity?
So it’s high time we meditate this all over again indeed! Also because the storms of the latest crises should warn us that the end of this play-time is approaching and we are about to face the Minotaur in the tunnel. We must seek a guiding light to rescue us from catastrophe, and we can find it in ourselves and in our work, in our daily activities. Working within our personal life, we have to strive to refer to the centrality of man, which is the core to be investigated and expressed in any field.
MAN: that’s the real ideal. An ideal of a new and deep understanding of ourselves, of both nature and divine within us: we then have to inspire art, philosophy, the conceiving of towns and of the world, our entire life, with this refound harmony.
If this is actually human work, why are we calling it the SPIRITUAL WORK? Because we’re thinking of man not only as a real being, but also as an ideal one, thus urging us to get back in touch with a perennial nucleus: an inspiration, a model to evoke with our consciousness and hard work, which can allow us to collaborate with the wondrous work of the Spirit.
So I am here to invite every person of intellect and heart to join this engagement, ideally not only the ones living in the current time but also all the people of the past who have provided us with marvelous works of art and intellect, not to mention the people of tomorrow, to whom all our hope is thus being dedicated.