Sunday, August 30, 2009

Fr. Carron's beloved Maria Zambrano

From Zenit:

Philosophy and Poetry Meet to Contemplate Reality

Rimini Meeting Reflects on Maria Zambrano's Works

RIMINI, Italy, AUG. 28, 2009 ( There were long lines of people at the entrance of the exhibition "Vocare -- Maria Zambrano, A Vocation to Knowledge," and a very crowded hall at its opening.

At the Rimini Meeting of Communion and Liberation, great interest was shown in Spaniard Maria Zambrano (1904-1991), a thinker considered in some circles on par with the her 20th-century contemporaries such as Hannah Arendt, Simone Weil and Edith Stein.

Pupil of philosopher José Ortega y Gasset, though shunning Marxism, she lived for a long time in exile from her native Spain (in Italy from 1954 to 1964) because of her opposition to the Franco regime. Returning to Spain in 1984, she won the prestigious Cervantes Award in 1988.

Innumerable are her works translated into Italian, among which is "For Love and Liberty" ("Per l'Amore e per la Liberta"), Marietti publishers, 2008.

In opening the exhibition at the Rimini Meeting on Wednesday, its creator Carmen Giussani said that "ideas do not meet, people meet" and "the exhibition has a most beautiful biographical section that enables one to know Maria Zambrano."

Giussani placed Zambrano's long life in the context of the drama of the 20th century, which also touched Spain and Europe.

The creator of the exhibition recounted that exile from Franco's Spain marked Zambrano's life intensely, specifying that her philosophy openly distanced itself from Communist Marxist thought.


In the introduction to the essay published by the Florentine Publishing Society, which runs through the exhibition, Giussani says that Zambrano supported a philosophical and artistic current known as Spanish realism, which did not simply copy reality, but rather showed an admiration for the world "without pretending to reduced it to nothing." The current expressed "being in love with the world."

Giussani also pointed out how in her works Zambrano criticized "the arrogance of modern reason, which pretends to define the real within its own limits."

"The novel and poetry are without a doubt ways of knowledge in which thought is diffused, sparse, wide, in which knowledge on essential, ultimate questions flows without being clothed in any authority, without being dogmatized," wrote Zambrano.

Maria Regina Brioschi, creator and curator of the exhibition -- together with Giussani --, which opened at the 2008 Madrid Meeting in April of that year, said that Zambrano "criticized Western philosophy that, beginning with Descartes, has ended by reducing reason to self-affirmation."

"In such a position, reason runs two risks," she added, "that of arrogance and of humiliation, which together lead to despair. This is the confusion in which 20th century man finds himself."

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Dumbstruck by the Mystery

...our temptation is always to impose our prejudices or our measure on reality -- except when we are faced with a fact that leaves us dumbstruck, and instead of dominating the fact ourselves, we are dominated, overcome by it. If there were no moments of this kind, the Mystery could do anything, but in the end, we would reduce everything to the usual explanation. But not even a Nobel Prize winner can stop himself from being dumbstruck before an absolutely gratuitous gesture. If there were not these moments, we would find answers, explanations, and interpretations to avoid being struck by anything. It is good that some things happen that we cannot dominate, then we have to take them seriously, and this is the great question of philosophy. If the conditions for the possibility of knowledge (see Kant) impose themselves on reality or if there is something that is so powerfully disproportionate that it does not let itself be "grasped" by the conditions of possibility, then the horizon opens. If this were not the case, then we could dominate everything and be in peace, or at least without drama. Instead, not even the intelligence of a Nobel Prize winner could prevent him from coming face-to-face with a fact that made him dumbstruck -- instead of dominating, it was he who was dominated. Here begins the drama, because I am called to answer. It is the drama that unfolds between us and the Mystery, through certain facts, certain moments, in which the Mystery imposes itself with this evidence. These are facts that we cannot put in our pocket, which we cannot reduce to antecedent factors.
-- Julian Carron in "Friends, that is, Witnesses."