The Mioritic Space, 1936

excerpts Cultural Differences The Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox spirits were favorable to different kinds of "culture", each for itself and from its part. Catholicism favored the cultural creation that presupposes a massive creative front that is organized in one direction. Catholicism earns the paternity over "monumental" culture, as it appears in all oversized embodiments of the Roman, Gothic or Baroque styles: these are embodiments of great energies, systematically coordinated and hierarchically made to accomplish the same task. Many epochs of European history wear this Catholic signature and seal. The Protestant atmosphere was generally favorable to great individual creation, which stands out through the signs of striking originality. It stimulates personality as such – Kant and Goethe are without any doubt the highest peaks that were reached. The Orthodox atmosphere, with its stress on everything organic, was favorable to the creation of natural spontaneity, a creation that is anonymous, popular and folkloric. The highest, most complex and diverse popular cultures in Europe belong, in our opinion, to the Orthodox people. Catholicism, with its spirit of canonic discipline, has imposed itself on the people and subdued their native spontaneity. Catholicism channels energy by choking the freedom of popular imagination and by allowing without protest only the production of legends with miraculous subjects. The Catholic popular imagination is persistently channeled towards canonical ground. Protestantism, with its well-known rationalist and pragmatic proclivity, also manages to sterilize the popular creative power to a great extent. Popular culture in the West is either annoyingly canonical, or very dry, compared to that from the Eastern Europe. In Switzerland, where I lived for several years and talked to Germanists and Romanists, I was often amazed to notice that the West has lost almost entirely the notion of "popular culture". Science there tends to reduce any cultural product or phenomenon to individual creation. Philologists of unknown reputation are totally unaware of what a popular poem means. The vigor of the ballad, the tenderness of the song, the edgy depth of the proverb, the industriousness and refinement of handicraft that are typical of Eastern Europe are regarded there as unbelievable things. The Swiss confronted with the translations of Miorita, Toma Alimos and Master Manole or of some songs from Maramures or from the Tarnave were as thrilled as if witnessing a miracle. After many years of dwelling in the alpine country I had the first chance to hear Swiss people use superlatives as they spoke. And we managed to trigger this feeling of admiration with the Romanian popular art every time. That's when I understood why Goethe was so impressed by Serb popular poems. And Goethe may not have had the chance to know the most precious aspects of those poems! All this immensely rich and worthy popular culture couldn't have grown and been preserved if it hadn't been protected by the Orthodox spirit that bows to the ground in front of any "organic" value. Catholicism and Protestantism were favorable for the development of the city. Orthodoxy was favorable for the development of the village. Villages in the West are mostly miniature cities, and the so-called popular culture there is most often of urban origin.Villages in the West are a kind of second-hand clothes stores and obsolete shapes of urban origin. The cities from the Orthodox East were – at least before the invasion of civilization – mere oversized villages. The village here kept on creating, even in the face of strong foreign influences.  Missionary work, proselytism, magic Catholicism, presenting itself as God's state on earth, displayed right from the beginning an obvious desire of imperialist expansion. The missioners embraced the task of winning over new citizens for the church by all the means that a shiny argument and good deeds offer, together with the threat of hell or the promise of eternal happiness. The aim of the missioner was that of capturing the consciences and the means that were applied were measured and calculated accordingly. Didn't a whole philosophy on the means sanctified by the desired aim rise from this missionary hyper-zeal and proselytizing? Protestant proselytes have the same zeal but calculate less, and the person supposed to be conquered is not a mere "object", but a "subject". People invited to join the confession have their own free conscience that proselytes appeal to. They have the chance to deliberate, to make up their minds in a fight with themselves. The Protestant often finds himself in a permanent state of searching, he appears to make endless efforts in order to find a pure doctrine, and when he feels that he possesses it, he tries to convince the other of the truth, out of a secret impulse of duty. Orthodoxy doesn't create proselytes, at least not in a methodic way. It dislikes organized torment and persisting appeal to the conscience of man. Orthodoxy merely tries to create an atmosphere that communicates itself suggestively. And if sometimes Orthodoxy happens to spread, this process takes place in an organic way, little by little, by the power of its inherent magic. The Catholic pulpit is a kind of militant tribune, the Protestant pulpit answers to a pedagogical necessity, becoming a desk from which the availability of the audience is tested, and it is ready to comply with any exegesis that appears to be more rational than those before. The Orthodox pulpit is a mere annex of the ritual. The priest may utter a piece of advice or a familiar urge from the pulpit. His word is supposed to be a seed thrown in the souls. He doesn't feel responsible for the germination and growth of the seed, as this is God's assignment. In other words, Orthodoxy is wide open to the one who wants to enter, it is glad to receive guests but it is not militant and it doesn't insist on convincing through a dialectics of large gestures. Orthodoxy has adopted the belief that faith is supposed to grow in man like a flower and to germinate by its own power, like a magic spell. Faith should not be imposed by the temptation of external brilliance or by the power of the argument, nor should it be delivered as un undelivered fetus. It is born by itself. Its destiny is to grow like the seed of a plant that doesn't need to be indented with a knife in order to germinate, nor to be encircled by syllogisms in order to root. With the Catholic and Protestant confessions, individual or collective passage, conversion or abandonment happen as a rule. To us it seems only natural in such militant or pedagogical surroundings. Once the Protestant has lost his orientation within his belief, he starts wandering around from one doctrine to the other in a kind of a migration for salvation and rings the door bells of all sects. The Catholic is caught tightly in the harness of the organization and severely controlled by the padre or by the community. Usually the Catholic is educated in such a way that his faith is always active. He is ready to attack or defend himself any time. On the spiritual level, the Catholic leads the life of a military camp, and no rooster can ever sing without him remembering Peter's betrayal. In other words, escape is harder to the Catholic than to the Protestant, whose exodus from the community is facilitated by all means. Yet the Catholic may often be tempted to escape because the strings that pull him happen to be too external. Any Catholic, a militant of faith out of principle, subjects himself to situations that expose him to the risk of leaving the confession. In order to defend an idea, he always takes the risk of being convinced by the opposite idea. The Orthodox is organically rooted in his confession. The crowd of believers is impressively stable; much more so than the Catholic and the Protestant; the Orthodox is Christian because of his subconscious structure and he is brought up in this way. With Orthodoxy, the human subconscious is instinctively cultivated in the Christian spirit. Catholicism and Protestantism try to maintain the Christian conscience in a state of acute lucidity. Nowhere did Christianity advance so far into subconscious areas as with the Orthodox masses, and that is why the Orthodox manages to be a Christian in a more organic sense than the Catholic or the Protestant. With Orthodoxy no innovations are accepted until they have been subjected to an instinctive criterion of selection, or until they prove to fit to its already existing organic way. In this context we should recall the insistent and useless attempts of the Reform in the 16th century Transylvania to win over the Romanian priests and peasants. The Romanian people understood that there were certain social and economic advantages connected to the Reform, yet the Orthodox Romanians refused to join the confession. The only thing they agreed on accepting, as a result of the pre-reformation and reformation invitations, was to introduce the Romanian language in the Orthodox Church instead of the sacred Slavonic that had been preserved for such a long time by the power of tradition. What an amazing power of organic selection in front of the clutter of innovative ideas in that troubled century of Transylvanian history! About two centuries later, in Transylvanian history we witness the fights of Romanian villages – the most heroic fights of Romanianness on a spiritual level – against the expansion of Catholicism. In those areas where as a result of pressure or temptation, bloodshed, oppression and terror, the situation became unbearable, Romanians accepted Catholicism. But in what way did they accept it? As a matter of fact, Romanians couldn't be persuaded or forced then, nor afterwards, to give up the tradition, the atmosphere or the organic way of the Orthodox confession. They transplanted the Orthodox substance in Catholicism, and that is where it dwells to this day, like an object that was swallowed but not assimilated. The concession made by the Romanians – by acknowledging the superiority of the pontiff and several dogmatic issues, formulas that nobody understood – did not affect by any means the essence of the Orthodox spirituality of those who bowed to the union with Rome. The Catholic imperialism understood that it could not expect a total triumph in this area and gave up searching for it. In the end, it was not the Romanians who gave in, but Catholicism that had to adapt to them, relaxing its style.  Outlooks on salvation As any other Christian, the Catholic is preoccupied by the salvation of his soul. In the Catholic mentality, this salvation is a gift from which the person benefits as from a reflection of the triumph of the church. For the Catholic, the triumph of the church, as God's state, is more important than any other issue. The Catholic often believes that the triumph of the Church must be obtained by any means, even by force and even forced by any means, and that these means can never be as mean as not to be absolved by the greatness of the aim. By perseveringly leading human energies towards triumph one can often obtain success, yet the disadvantage of this strategy is that it installs in the individual conscience orientations that often ignore the natural drives of the moral conscience.In order to justify the unconditional orientation towards the triumph of the church, the Catholic spirit is doomed to become sometimes blamefully formalist and too often awkwardly casuistic. The priority of this problem and this interest in comparison with any other problems and interests turn Catholicism into a constellation that is unfavorable to the problem of salvation. Salvation is no longer regarded in itself, and for itself, but in the reflecting light, full of impurities, of the so-called central problem. The well-known adage "outside the Church there is no salvation" only serves to involve people with all their energies in the technique of a triumph that tends to enlarge its volume with every step. And how does the Protestant feel about the same issue of salvation? We know that the Protestant is above all proud of his freedom. As a consequence the Protestant will believe that an effective salvation can only be one prepared in freedom. No doubt that the Protestant widens this problem, but sometimes he widens it beyond its inherent flexibility. The other side of the coin concerning a Protestant's soul is a feeling of terribly tragic loneliness. The Protestant asks the question in terms of high tension, but at the same time he deliberately complicates its answer. The void between problem and solution becomes wider and wider and it is filled with religious spasms and tenseness. An Orthodox might regard the excessive preoccupation of the Protestant with his salvation as rather embarrassing and actually egocentric. In comparison to the Protestant way, the Orthodox position seems comforting and full of opportunities to unwind. The monk on Mount Athos is only preoccupied with his own salvation to the extent that it signifies a wider salvation of "the unity of the whole". Just like the Orthodox who feels guilty for everybody's deeds, just like everybody's deeds reflect on everybody, the salvation of each individual raises the level of the whole in the Orthodox belief. This conception is not possible unless it relies on the supposition that mankind is a vast organism and its interior structure is full of magic correlations.   Different types The Catholic who has accomplished something in life according to his role, especially the priest, represents a stylish human type. Styling is the effect of a long lasting formative process. Styling means here assimilating certain shapes, from the outside to the inside. The shapes are imposed to the person by the organization in order to be shown as its signs. In the Catholic world, the shapes travel as if they were independent entities and sometimes without corresponding to a suitable human background. The shapes are accepted as values in their own right because they represent the greatness of the Church. The Catholic cares greatly for the stylish aspect – for his personal aspect and that of his deeds. And he cares for all that for the glory of the church. The Protestant pastor, with a dramatized ethos, doesn't wear any empty shapes. Generally he is more rugged, because day to day he feels that he has to put another effort in order to rise. The pastor sees himself as a live pedagogical example, a kind of embodiment of the categorical imperative according to local necessities. From the example that he is giving, he expects more religious severity to emerge on the issues of social duty, profession and vocation. The Orthodox priest generally achieves less than the Catholic priest or the pastor during their spiritual lives, and this is an issue we are not going to tackle here. We feel that the most accomplished type of Orthodox spiritual life, though rare, must be led by the monks. These monks appear not only in Dostoyevsky's novels but also in the descriptions of foreigners who went to Mount Athos, and I myself met a few along the years. Some of them dwelled enthralled by interdictions and freed by meditation for a decade or more in the caves of the Sacred Mountain. These people, who attain stellar purities by their devotion, would gladly become one with the earth because of their humbleness, give us an unforgettable icon of what could be not only the monk, but also the Orthodox priest. Their external appearance, dispiriting most of the times, speaks against this kind of life. But these monks have an unbelievable inner peace, a transparency of their soul's life and a light that shines through their entire body and reveals itself to the surrounding environment without any resistance. Their faith has become an organic substance. It shines from the inside to the outside – not tempestuous, lucid or accompanied by militant reflexes, but simple and natural, accompanied by some fragrance of a deep subconscious life. The deeds of such a person detach themselves from the inner light. They are not sustained by goals that exceed them, nor are they preceded by theories meant to lend them a singular, panicky aspect. If you don't search for the deeds, they look as if they have grown inside and as they appear, they fall like ripe fruit without being surrounded by the idea of the triumph of the church, not even of setting an example. It is not man, as a conscious person, who is the author of the deeds, but the deeds are done through him, starting from nameless organic substrata. The Orthodox spirit is with these people not a doctrine, but a way of life, an organic existence, a profound existence as such. Stepping into the aura of such a person, you experience a spiritual atmosphere made from flesh and blood. The Catholic way of life, thanks to the spirit that characterizes it, provides the world with very representative and stylish people. The Protestant atmosphere is favorable to the appearance and cultivation of great individualities. Orthodoxy favors more than Catholicism and Protestantism a spiritual and organic existence, profound as such, profound in itself and not through its doctrine, which in fact never intrudes in the configuration of Orthodox man.   Romanian apriorism In spite of the influences that needlessly dispute our land, and in spite of the confluences that play their unsteady game in our country and in the heart of our people, there is a Romanianness that should be understood in the superior sense of a complex or of a special constellation of spiritual determinants. Apart from the mystery of the blood and above it, Romanianness is a stylistic legacy. Part of it is made up of determinants that belong to it exclusively, and the other part is made up of an intimate relation of determinants that outrun it, which is of a functional nature or established by dosage. There is a vivid stylistic matrix in the light of which Romanianness looks like an ensemble outlined by latencies and achievements. Nothing except this stylistic matrix enables us to regard Romanianness as a complex that is susceptible to being expressed in an idealized and enhanced image. In what concerns this spiritual Romanianness, apart from the deeds and the stream of folklore and history, we have created a vision meant perhaps for a pragmatic destiny. It is the vision of a living crystal, of a complex of creating powers. What are these powers made of? First of all, there is a certain wavy horizon, the Mioritic one, and the horizon of rocky time travel. The two of them are the coordinates of this spirituality. There is a fusion between these horizons and a feeling of destiny, experienced as a wave as well, as an alternation of ups and downs, as advancement into a sidereal homeland, with a rhythmic succession of hills of trust and valleys of resignation. The horizons are followed by other determinants: a preference for the categories of the "organic", of the world, and the tendency of a "Sophianic" transfiguration of reality. The formative intent takes shape and is active mostly as an orientation towards geometrical and natural shapes in an attenuated organic manner. Then we add to the bunch an invincible love for the picturesque and a sharp sense for balance and for the whole. In order to round up the complex, we should also specify that all determinants take place in an undertone, as if their victory was reined in. Everything happens with an amazing sense of nuance and with just as much sense of discretion. In developing the abstract vision on Romanianness, we did not take into consideration the obvious or problematic role of historical elements. In the spirit of our stylistic theory, we only operate with elements taken from the reality of folklore and culture. We are not interested in the historical genesis of these facts, but in the facts themselves, their essence and mainspring. We keep from speculations about elements of historical positioning like Dacianism, Slavism or Romanism. For now, questions like what is Dacian, Slavic or Romanic are not exactly of utmost importance to us. They are neither essential, nor very appealing to riddle solvers. This kind of questions throws us, in the current state of our research, into a giant labyrinth, for which Ariadne has not yet spun the saving thread. Indeed, certainties in this field cease to exist once we go past the borders of philology for instance, and we do not feel that philology might lead us straight to the substances. Thus, we thought that we were on safer ground by trying to write about a certain amount of determinants that were obviously efficient, and to focus on several particular aspects that make a relative entity out of us. Yet we have also noticed, right from the beginning, that we were moving in a field of plastic phenomena and in an atmosphere of weightlessness and flavors. The axes of this elastic area, of spontaneity and interferences, can only be explained as obvious orientation lines by a slight excess of abstract imagination. We took the liberty of using this license as well, which no ideology can do without, in our study Horizon and Style. There we have shown how all the powers that come together in order to form a stylistic matrix actually play the role of categories for the human spirit. They unconsciously impart to all human creation, that is, the vision that man has of the world. So we can talk about a certain "apriorism" of human spontaneity in general, different from and above the mere apriorism of knowledge. We consider stylistic apriorism, whose nest and home is in the unconscious, as varying with regions and peoples. Expositions throughout this study justify our thesis on the existence of Romanian apriorism. Let us not be intimidated by the term, as apriorism is merely a more emphatic means of philosophically circumscribing the affirmation on the existence of certain active stylistic factors that leave an undoubted mark on the products of our ethnic genius. The fact that up till now the stylistic matrix was hindered from becoming manifest, whole and consistent with itself, on a higher level and not just as a very thriving popular culture (more thriving than that of Western peoples), by the vicissitudes of the ages, cannot be interpreted as an element of the final conclusions. Considering several symptoms, we have enough reasons to hope that our unconscious spirit will become manifest in the future on a major level. We stated above that our "history" cannot be regarded a succession of ingenuous shapes, coming out of itself, parthenogenetic, pure, unaltered. It is just as true that an existing stylistic matrix remains a strong organ that assimilates foreign influences. It can assert itself in spite of all the spiritual inductions coming from elsewhere. Of course, our stylistic matrix will not be protected from such inductions in the future. Caught in the network of the continental determinations, it will use from now on, for ever, foreign materials and shapes. At the same time, it will be able to assert its sovereignty.Looking attentively through the history of Western nations, we can notice that its development has an essentially rhythmic character. The history of the French, German and Italian peoples reveals itself as an alternation, as a cadence of "epochs". Everything takes place as if the Western peoples successively unfolded their formative and material possibilities. This kind of history, dynamic, dialectic, absolutely temporal, successive-rhythmical, represents a type of history that is specific to Western peoples. Yet we wonder if major history must necessarily have a successive-dialectic character. By reading the histories of other peoples, of Asian ones for instance, we get the impression that there also might be a history in which the formative and material possibilities of a people also come true, in time, but simultaneously, in parallel, and rectilinearly; i.e. not successively-dialectically, with more or less unilateral phases, but as a massive growth with a continuous aspect. The inherent possibilities of a stylistic matrix can therefore come into being on a major scale, either in a successive-dialectical history or in a simultaneous history, with a straight growth. It is difficult to foresee what way the Romanian stylistic matrix will chose. But sometimes a simple discovery can stand for a prophecy: we live neither in the East, nor in the West. We are where we are, together with all our neighbors, on a land of crossroads. The animators of Romanian culture, flames of sacred impetus at the gate of the winds, have been offering each other the legacy of urges for more than a century. None of them can be accused of being proud, of self-oblivious, or of having attributed to our people a Messianic mission in the world.They kept away from such hybrid ecstasies and they were right to do so. From our trips to Europe we have learned about the hilarious illuminations and the grimaces, pathetically lacking the spirit of self-irony, of some of our Messianic neighbors. The God of common-sense has protected us from this sterile inner fire. Let us hope that we will be able to decently play our role under this sky of ours and without having to wear the Messianic mantle. For some time this mantle seems like a trite coat that doesn't even favor nations with power of global induction. Until this day no nation has achieved greatness starting from a Messianic program. The careful, steady investigation of our popular culture has led us to the reassuring conclusion of the existence of a Romanian stylistic matrix. Its latencies, which we can glimpse at, justify the assertion that we have a high cultural potential. All that we know without fearing contradiction is that we are rich bearers of exceptional possibilities. All that we can believe without attempting on lucidity is that we were destined to bring light upon a piece of land with our elite of tomorrow. All that we can hope for without letting us be manipulated by illusions is the pride of spiritual and historical initiatives that sometimes jump like a spark over the heads of other peoples. The rest is a matter of fate.

by Lucian Blaga (1895-1961)