“… it is almost certain that one fine day a man of titanic soul will be born here – titans are the children of the mountains – who will write sovereign verses and will properly be the Ande that versifies.”
José Ortega y Gasset, Meditación de la Criolla, 1939
And he had already been born, Don José, the year before your speech, only you could not know it. Mario Luis Rodríguez Cobos, who would later be known in these and other latitudes by the name by which he would go down in history, Silo, came into the world in Mendoza, Argentina, on the edge of those great and inspiring mountains in January 1938, and his body, faithful companion of his many wanderings, lay inert on 16 September seventy-two years later.
But what sense could there be in commemorating the death of the man who early on proclaimed “There is no meaning in life if everything ends in death”? The only reason with any coherent meaning is to highlight his work and legacy, which has undoubtedly transcended the individual and whose rays are projected without being tarnished in the least by the anecdotes of physical time.
However, highlighting a few of his experiences and proposals could dwarf his masterful contribution to the human species, while a necessary interpretative reduction could distort, in other eyes, his main message. Silo himself, aware of these issues, took it upon himself to alleviate the matter by placing his texts and reliable speeches on a site that we recommend visiting, as well as consulting his printed books published in different languages.
Having made these clarifications, we can freely comment on three aspects that we consider to be of fundamental importance in his legacy.
The integration of mysticism and social action
In the search for the deepest truths of the human being, in the investigation of the purpose of his existence, several mystics tried to go beyond the phenomenal world, going into the unveiling of essential mysteries. And, as if they were touching the bottom of a pond with their feet, the need to communicate their discoveries pushed them with force to the surface to share what they considered would improve human life.
Thus, the task to which Silo dedicated his life, and which forms an irreplaceable part of his legacy, is that of delving into, understanding and overcoming all the factors that generate pain and suffering in and around us. As he explained on numerous occasions, external violence with its multiple modalities and the internal violence produced by contradiction, intimately linked by subtle threads, are today the main stumbling block to be removed.
In a historical time that has dissociated subjectivity from the object, separated energetic expression from material expression, compartmentalised the spiritual and the political as separate realms – perhaps to ensure the feudal domination of some actor in them – it is a moral imperative to recompose the lost unity and restore to the peoples the capacity to move through this unique and indissoluble space with a creative sense.
Rebellion in the face of determination
In a significant passage of his book “Humanise the Earth”, Silo states: “I will not accept at my side those who project a transcendence out of fear, but those who rise up in rebellion against the inevitability of death”.
This attitude of rebellion against the given, the factual, together with the capacity of the human being to find creative ways out of the various enclosures and apparent conditionings, is a central component of his doctrine.
In relation to the supposedly natural and determined condition, Silo is emphatic and enlightening when he points out in his essay ” Regarding what is Human”: “In the human being there is no human “nature”, unless this “nature” is considered as a capacity different from the animal one, of moving between times outside the horizon of perception. In other words: if there is something “natural” in the human being, it is not in the mineral, vegetable or animal sense, but in the sense that what is natural is change, history, transformation.”
“Such an idea of change” – he goes on to say – “does not conveniently fit in with the idea of “nature” and therefore we prefer not to use the latter word as it has been used, and with which numerous disloyalties to the human being have been justified.”
In this way, when observing today a certain almost “ritual” devotion to the “laws” of the natural ambit and in the face of certain voices that blame the human race (and not the mechanisms of the capitalist system itself) for the current environmental degradation, the affirmation of the human capacity and need to transform its environment becomes a banner of rebellion against the regressive conservationist clamour, which omits the calamities that the species had to and still has to face due to external and its own natural conditioning factors.
A message and a universal project
The guides who traced evolutionary paths for humanity spoke to their peoples from their historical and cultural circumstances. This fact, perhaps necessary to connect with the feelings and needs of the people, later collided with others when they tried to spread the messages, causing violence and imposition.
From its very roots, Silo shares his message with a clear intention of universality, respecting the cultural translations that each people can produce and at the same time will be a convergence towards essential values and experiences, proper to the same human species, whatever its geographical and cultural condition.
The characteristic of free interpretation expressed by himself in relation to the possible experiences derived from his teaching, on the other hand, makes his doctrine permeable to the human transformations of the future, an aspect absolutely coherent with his dynamic conception of the Human Being.
Universalist Humanism, as a social expression of his Message, also points to a project in accordance with the formation of the first fully interconnected civilisation in human history, promoting the image of a Universal Human Nation, inclusive and twinned with the purpose of tackling the challenges of the species in a united and collaborative way.
As we made clear at the beginning of this article, there are many more aspects to mention in Silo’s work, but as a collective executor of that legacy, these few lines suffice to affirm the validity, necessity and centrality of Silo’s proposal in a world that needs to open its future to new utopias.
Related to this, in a warm spirit of possibility and openness towards the future, and by way of testimony, we adhere to the following extract from the aforementioned essay by Silo:
“I love, then, the Human Being, his growing humanisation. And in moments of crisis of reification, in moments of dehumanisation, I love its possibility of future rehabilitation”.