Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Dimensions of the Human Heart

The 31st session of the Meeting for Friendship Amongst Peoples in Rimini, which drew 800,000 visitors last year, begins on Sunday.  The subject is the human heart.  In an introduction to the topic the challenge is set forth, to break out of the prescribed mold.
We are immersed in a culture that tends to erase “man’s humanity,” the “want and emptiness … the chief sign of the grandeur and nobility of human nature” expressed by Leopardi in his Thoughts, and risk affirming a purely materialistic conception of life. The provocation in this year’s title, instead, affirms the opposite. The human being’s nature is first of all the heart, which expresses itself as desire for great things. The driving force of all human action is this aspiration to something great, the need for something infinite. The human being is relationship with the infinite. This striving is the unmistakeable feature of the human, the spark of every action, from work to family, from scientific research to politics, from art to provision for daily needs.
Journalist John Waters has a wry piece in Traces (12:7) exploring the problem of the heart in anticipation of the Meeting.  We think of the heart as the nemesis of the thinking person, or a "scapegoat", as it gets carried away and messes up the plan.  In fact:  "The mind has effected a coup in which the heart is retained for operational and symbolic purposes, but stripped of all authority concerning decision-making."  There is no way out without acknowledging that the autonomous model does not account for that "something [that] remains unexplained".  There is this "irrationality.  The heart, the font of the desire that follows me from the beyond whence I came, speaks to me every moment of what this `I' really seeks, really wants, really is."

No comments: