Immersion in wonder | poster

Immersion in wonder |  poster

in Message in emotions In 1649, Descartes placed wonder at the top of the basic human emotions, which he defined as the “cognitive” emotion, because it leads to scientific research. Descartes, however, removed fear—hence the contradiction of Thomas Aquinas’ scheme of emotions—because, as the philosopher believed, fear was already rooted in the same last wonder, passion, that scientific progress was destined for—albeit indefinitely. Time – to cancel.
The sounding device, a scientific instrument whose purpose is precisely to ‘sound’ the unknown, is the code upon which Swedish writer and journalist Patrick Svensson – known in Italy thanks to his successful 2019 international bestseller – relied. In the sign of an eel (Translated by Monica Corbetta, Gwanda, Milan 2019), Laureate of the prestigious Augustpriset Prize in Sweden, dedicated his second narrative essay, The man with the voice. Stories of the sea, the abyss and wonders (Translated by Monica Corbetta, Iberborea, p. 222, Euro 18), which he will present on Thursday at the Mantova Festival, in a dialogue with Leonardo Piccione in a meeting entitled “The Sailors.” Yes, because at the root of the word “sound” is precisely the sea: subundare – to submerge – contains the word “wave”, and it is precisely the stories of the sea, of navigation, of discoveries over the centuries, that Svensson speaks of. He tells us in his delicious size.

In your opinion, is questioning the passion that scientific progress is destined to erase?
I don’t think science will ever be able to erase amazement, even indefinitely. There will always be unanswered questions, always a sense of mystery, and perhaps the ocean is the best example of that. But I really do believe that wonder has an epistemological function. A sense of wonder is often the driving force behind scientific research, and perhaps we could say that science is addicted to the unknown. I think curiosity and a sense of wonder are more than just emotions. They are part of what it means to be an existential human being.

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His essay helps us understand many things about that continuous watery surface that gives the dominant color to the famous “blue marble” image taken by the crew of Apollo 17 in 1972. For seven-eighths of its history, life existed only in the sea, while we made our appearance some three hundred years ago. Only one thousand two hundred thousand years. Even the image of the man with the voice who gives a title to a chapter of his book and the Italian version of the article is associated with water. The sea is the origin of literature, science and technology. However, she explains to us, the man who is probing does not necessarily hope to find something measurable, but on the contrary something that cannot be measured…
To me, the soundings, the thousands of years that humans have measured the depths of the ocean without being able to get there themselves, are a powerful symbol of human curiosity. It is clear that we need to communicate with those areas that we cannot reach, one way or another. And I sincerely believe that sometimes it is not the discovery itself that is most important, but the process of research. Science is not a set of answers. Science is a process, and as with the man with the voice, the important thing is to keep asking questions, even more than looking for a definitive answer.

Of the many stories she tells, her encounter with Peps Persson, a Swedish musician originally from rural Scania, is particularly interesting. Pearson does not belong to the line of famous navigators, astronauts and oceanographers, but he is an explorer like them and his greatest “discovery” is the global rhythm which “expels loneliness and isolation and binds one to the other”. Pearson believes that the soul itself is not in individual individuals, but “among” humans, that it is that rhythm that fills the space between every living being, and it is the same “circadian” rhythm that is for man and nature alike.
Yes, I only met Pep Pearson once, but it was a meeting that meant a lot to me. I think he’s not very well known in Italy, but he was very important to me and a lot of other people in Sweden because of the way he was able to see, through the music he created, and how everything and everyone is connected in some way. He knew how to combine the Swedish folk music of his childhood, shotty and polka, with American blues. He found in Arabic music the rhythm and tonal language of the music of the whole of Africa that would travel on ships to the Caribbean, he embraced Swedish music and Jamaican reggae, always looking for points of contact that would unite the seemingly irreconcilable. In fact, he died shortly after I finished writing the book. I thought it would be interesting to try to connect Pearson’s idea of ​​rhythm or world spirit with a scientific approach to the subject. And in the circadian rhythm you find just that, an expression of how all life is connected to the rotation of the Earth. A kind of global rhythm. If we want to call it spirit, or “world spirit,” it may just be a matter of semantics. But I think it’s a beautiful example of how science can create wonder in the natural world.

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Also among his stories is Robert Dick’s “The Baker’s World at Thurso”. For him, a devout Christian, the ruthless vicissitudes of life were not reconciled to the idea of ​​an almighty Creator. This view has historically brought Darwinism into conflict with the Christian faith. Do you think the two are compatible?
This is a question that has been the subject of theological debate for a long time. I am not a believer, and for me the short answer is no, the stories of the Bible do not align with the scientific understanding of the world. But, at the same time, I’ve had many interesting discussions with people of faith on these topics, and I believe that if one is open to thinking and talking about life and existence in different ways, and not just through a purely scientific method, then they will be. It is possible to deepen the understanding of the question itself as well as what is related to the meaning of existence.

To plumb the abyss, enter the Earth’s core and observe the planet “from above”. If you could choose between a journey into space and a journey into the abyss, which would you go?
I have to be honest, I don’t think I’ll ever have the guts to go down to the depths of the ocean. It is a place which manifests itself in everything as unsuitable for human life, where even the concept of time does not seem to exist, where there is no night and day and there are no seasons, where it is always completely dark, always the same temperature. Of course the same can be said about outer space, but if I had to choose, I think I would choose space.

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However, his books are all about the topic of water. In his latest article, he reveals the origin of this passion for the sea. What has the work of Rachel Carson, author of beautiful works about the sea, done for you personally and literaryly?
Rachel Carson had a deep meaning. I think the big discovery for me was his second book, the sea around us of 1951 (translation by Gianluigi Minardi, piano versions B). It is a scholarly publication, but at the same time it is very beautifully written, almost poetic at times. It was inspiring for me to discover that you can actually write about science and natural facts while making it a beautiful reading experience. And also that you can take a scientific approach to the world and still be able to feel amazing about it.

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