We have already printed the Italian version of the first volume of Florensky’s Writings on Space (in Italian: Scritti sullo spazio). Two tomes, one with Florensky’s original and extremely sharp reflections on space, one with colour, and in certain cases rare, illustrations (mostly Russian icons and Italian Renaissance art).
We are now completing the English version of the same book. By working hard on the first English translation of a number of Florensky’s fundamental lessons and articles on space, we glimpsed the delicate path of a future philosophical, artistic and scientific way of thinking. Among the features of this path, one can certainly recognise:
– First of all, the fruitful connection, without confusion, between hard and soft sciences, or rather exact sciences and humanities. The mathematical concept of Gaussian curvature, for example, gently extends to physiological and aesthetic questions.
– After that, love for reality, for its living complexity.
Paradoxically, the more we are dragged by Florensky away from a lazy, material (and ‘naturalistic’) hypotyposis of the world, represented as a collection of tangible, separate things, which are heavily embedded in a uniform and abstract space, the more we feel we are getting closer to material reality itself. Following Florensky’s way of looking at the world, we start seeing things not as sealed objects, but as mobile lumps of living tensions. We might say that matter disappears under our very eyes, but it is exactly through this organic negation of its ‘self-assertiveness’ that matter, as such, is able to show its very realty.
– Finally, the conception of human, technical creations as means to mark out the reality of nature. Spatiality, in particular, is presented as a clear example of the borderline on which nature and culture, real and ideal world, can converge. In accordance with this point of view, Florensky offers us a very original reflection on ‘space wholeness’, a concept that he explains having recourse to – as he says – a ‘chorus of voices’ speaking different languages: