More on the problem of our era

An understanding of a new relatedness will arrive, I believe, the more we come to recognize that entity which I call the self or I, lying within matter, lying within ourselves, lying, above all, in the special relatedness between ourselves and living structure. It will arrive, because the existence of this entity I call the “I” can be confirmed by experience, and it will — I believe — one day become part of physics, part of our understanding of the material universe, which reunites self and matter, ourselves with the world.

Yet, I believe some form of concrete connection to the “I” such as that which existed in the great early works of building, which their builders found through mystical religion, is necessary to as an underpinning for a successful art of building. I believe this, because I find it to be a necessary precondition for the creation of living structure by human beings.

In short, to create living structure, we need a vision of the universe in which meaning exists, in which a vision of relatedness and self have a primary place. But it must be a vision whose feelings, whose depth of understanding, is as real for us — true and vibrant and real as part of daily life in the third millennium — as much as God was at home in Mozart’s heart.

That, I believe, is the challenge of our era.

To do it in our buildings, to create a comparable heavenly light, as of a living thing, in a column, or a ceiling, or a roof as builders once did, seems like a near-impossibility for us to achieve in 20th- or 21st-century terms. It is not the beauty which is unreachable; it is the spiritual depth of what is achieved in the works.

According to this argument, if we wish to create a living world, finding our own contemporary version of the I, and learning how we may connect ourselves to it, is a challenge we must meet. I have become quite certain that the deepest living structure in buildings is not attainable without some new understanding like this, without a new faith based on a new physical and intellectual grasp of the nature of the material universe. For us, I believe it is quite certain that the old forms of mysticism that we know as religions cannot provide us with this “something”. It is too late. By the end of the 19th century, unshakable faith in God — as human beings had known it in the world’s religions for some two thousand years — no longer worked. For us the 20th and 21st centuries, our faith, if there is to be faith, our deep understanding, must come from some new vision — a new vision able to do for us and for the future what the vision of God did for the builders of the 14th century.

Metaphors we believe by offers an additional perspective on a lot of god-like phenomena of our times: “Rationalists only managed to kill a very narrow and anthropomorphic conception of God. People who study complex systems started using new words to talk about god-like phenomena — metaphors that are more palatable to secular minds.”

(Pages 44-46)

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