España is a country of contrasts and of meltings, of strong emotions and of stronger emotionability, of passions and hates, silences and clamours. Of philosophy and introspections, of poetry and dramas, of lyrics and deaths. Yes, love and death reach the climax of their interminable struggle under the blazing Spanish sun.
It is easy to agree that mankind is indebted to Spain for supporting Colòn in his visionary trip toward the Indies, that led to the discovery of America; easy to agree that Don Quixote is one of the great masterpieces of literature, to agree that Picasso has been the dominating painter of the last century. But many other countries may also call upon similar examples, similar honours.
However, perhaps not all of us are familiar with the works and relevance for our European culture of the Spanish scientist and philosopher Abu-Al-Walid Mohammed Ibn Ahmad Ibn Mohammed Ibn Rushd, known also as Averroè, “Averrois, che il gran comento feo”, wrote Dante. Born in Cordoba in 1126, Averroè was one of the most renowned physicians of his time, and his book on medicine, the Al-Kullyyat (known as Colliget in its Latin translation) was one of the basic textbooks in early European medical schools, such as Bologna, Paris and Siena. Averroè affirmed the superiority of reason and philosophy over faith and knowledge founded on faith. A large part of the scientific progress in Europe is indeed deeply in debt to these principles. Probably our actual inter-nations and inter-ethnic problems would benefit greatly from a larger acceptance and re-reading of Averroè’s ideas.
Spain and Madrid: the highest located capital city in Europe, and one of the busiest. Its loyalty to Spanish kings against invaders has earned Madrid the title of “heroic”, and possibly this title is nowadays also earned by the thousands of cars struggling through the main “calles” and “avenidas” to reach different destinations downtown. For sure, Madrid’s appeal ranges from the important museums such as El Prado and minor ones as the Lazaro Galiano, to culinary hotspots with many stars in well-known “red” Guides, to a different consideration of the daily schedule! The innocent tourist might be faced with having two dinners, one with tasty “tapas” at the canonic 20.00 and the second – the real dinner - after midnight, with severe effects on the morning sessions organised by our Society!!However, let me spend the final lines of this invitation to Spain and to Madrid, to direct your attention to one of the aspects of Spain that has struck me the most; precisely the easy induction to mysticism. I have felt strong and deep emotions in front of many El Greco paintings as well as while walking through the sculptures created by Serra in the Bilbao Museum, because it was easy to feel alone with that art piece, to realize an artificial isolation between some deep chords of the soul and the responding soul of the artist. Going through many museums all over the world, seldom I have felt a similar empathy with what I was observing as it has happened to me in Spain. And I felt a very similar empathic feeling when I lost myself in the Pirenées near the river Aragon, a modern pilgrim on the Sentiero de Santiago, while I began to establish a whistling relationship with a few young hawks, the Astores, that were very interested in this new moving animal entering their territory. I called them, repeating their whistles, they were flying lower and closer near and more near, whistling to me. I would have remained there, murmuring with Neruda “oh Francesca, hacia dònde te llevaran mis alas!”, if my aching legs and my worried wife would had not called me back to the modern asphalt.
To me Spain is one of the few countries where these re-encounters with a …. lost?.... part of ourselves is facilitated, sometimes induced.
And in this hectic beginning of the third millennium, we all need it. I definitely do.So welcome to the 12th EFNS Congress, welcome to Madrid, welcome to Spain.
Gian Luigi Lenzi