Traces, no. 4, August 2023

Logical at all costs

This issue looks at Fr. Giussani’s bold realism: “It is not realistic for a person to live without this openness to the impossible. As it says in The Religious Sense, the reality of the human person is a relationship with the infinite. The infinite or the impossible.” This is the opposite of what is normally thought. Be realistic, lower your expectations. But for him, being realistic coincides with a reason thrown wide open, a reason that does not block the cry for meaning and seeks that which “corresponds to the deepest needs of the heart. To be exceptional, an encounter must correspond to what you’re waiting for.”

The title on this issue’s cover is part of the famous line from the “French May” of the 1968 student protests, which echoes Albert Camus’s Caligula: “I’m not mad; in fact I’ve never felt so lucid. What happened to me is quite simple; I suddenly felt a desire for the impossible. That’s all. Things as they are, in my opinion, are far from satisfactory. […] I want the moon, or happiness, or eternal life–something, in fact, that may sound crazy, but which isn’t of this world.” His servant Helicon responded, “That’s sound enough in theory. Only, in practice one can’t carry it through to its conclusion.” And Caligula answered, “You’re wrong there. It’s just because no one dares to follow up his ideas to the end that nothing is achieved. All that’s needed, I should say, is to be logical right through, at all costs.”

There is no more beautiful wish for vacations as well, for that “time of freedom” as Fr. Giussani called it: “Vacation time is the noblest time of the year, because it is the moment when one becomes as involved as he likes in the value he recognizes as dominant for his life.” It is the time of “responsibility of freedom,” the time “when an understanding of what it is you really want can come to the surface.