Should we consider this photograph to have an “Urban” or a “Natural” landscape? The lake, here is the Lehman lake in Lausanne, Switzerland, the sky and the clouds are natural elements. The concrete wall where this man is sitting, as well as the two vertical metallic structures on each side of the image are of urban essence.
At the centre and in the middle –there is a man and his bicycle. They can fit in both landscapes- natural and urban.
Nature and Urban are too often in opposition. People who live in the city “escape” to nature for the weekend. Those who live in small villages, by the fields, go from time to time to the City Mall to feed theirs commercial needs.
This photograph reminds me that it was not always like this: Once, the Natural and Human worlds were not opposed to each other but rather complementary. Ancient philosophies remind us of three distinct levels of reality, most known under the Greek names of Agros, Agora and Acropolis.
Agros is the lower level. The reign of Nature: It is the fields surrounding the city, the domain of Agriculture.
Agora is the intermediate plane. Here, men live and die. It is the city, the place where people study, love, create and produce. The Agora is the Public Place where community issues are discussed and where the essence of Politics exists.
Acropolis is the upper level, the upper city, the place dedicated to the Temples, to Philosophy and Spirituality. It used to give a meaning and direction, and I would add, an Identity and an Ideal to follow to the people in the Agora.
In other words, Agros is the physical level, the Greek “Soma”. Agora corresponds with the “Psyche”, the feelings and the intellect, and Acropolis with the “Nous”, the Spiritual consciousness – not specifically religious – but beyond the rational mind.
The three constitute together a living Unity. A world where there is no separation between Culture and Nature, because both serve a greater purpose: life.
Today the Acropolis has vanished. Spirituality is too often confused with Religion and Nature is opposed to Culture. We have lost the unifying element, as we can easily note in Politics, which is nothing more today than the chaos of divergent opinions, most of them being produced by superficial, subjective and personal interests.
Too few people are truly willing to serve the common interest.
By the way, the term “Idiot”, from the Greek “Idiotes”, refers to the private citizen in Athens, the citizen who dealt only with his own affairs and did not come to the Agora to participate in the affairs of the city, the community, and the whole. The idiot is thus the one who isolates himself, who moves away from a global vision and from a general culture. In a sense, the idiot is at the source of too many so called citizens today.
Maybe this is what touched to me in this photograph. I imagine this man on the wall, in the middle of the city, to have found a way to regain contact with the nature. A way to reunite what has been divided; a way to fight separation;
A way to challenge idiocy.