Existential report: interview with Dr. Mira y Lopez
This interview appeared as a preface to an article on children's education in “Our Children”, Buenos Aires, Argentina, possibly in the late “50's, by which time the scientist was living in Brazil.
What constitutes an existential report
Doctor Emilio Mira y Lopez, eminent scientist and writer, answers questions raised in 10 minutes for a new journalistic genre: the existential report, the purpose of which is to dig deep under the person's skin while free of malicious intent.
WHAT IS FOR YOU THE MEANING OF LIFE AND, IN PARTICULAR, THE MEANING OF YOUR OWN LIFE ?
-I think of life as an end in itself that justifies itself. A person's life strives for meaning and finds it to the extent that, while remaining one self, one makes the best one can of one's self. This is the meaning I have tried to impart to my life; while remaining myself, to draw the best of myself…
HOW DO YOU EXPERIENCE TIME, YOUR PAST AND THE TIME LEFT TO LIVE?
-Well, I am a human being who owing to certain of my life's circumstances , has had 20 years of his past cut off and his future capacity encroached on. This leads me to look at this present as an infinite one, and I am trying to live it without pause but also without haste.
WHAT DO “THE OTHERS” MEAN TO YOU?
-I see “others” as something more than my similars, as it is commonly said. I think that basically men are not much different from each other, that we are all brothers, and that is why we must apply the real meanig of democracy, that “all” is more than “one” – myself – and therefore represents for me a demand for collaboration, as long as… as long as I can be of use to them. The big question is how to know in which way one can be useful to one's brothers, because sometimes, even with the best of intentions, one causes them harm.
To me, “the others” constitute a bigger problem than myself.
HOW DO YOUR VALUE YOUR WORK AND WHAT IMPORTANCE DO YOU GIVE TO IT?
-Unfortunately my work has been maimed because my real vocation is foremost to be a researcher. I am by nature a very curious individual, with a keen interest in research by myself. However, life events and circumstances have denied me my wish, because by the time I had reached a position to fulfill it, when I had my University Chair, I had to leave my country… since then as a emigrant/refugee, I have been engaged in plain living.
“Primum vivere” naturally demands attendance to basic needs and this has curtailed my time to engage in research. I still feel, nevertheless that I have made a valuable contribution to mental health assessment with my myokinetic techniques.
WHAT PLACE DO YOU ALLOCATE TO LOVE IN LIFE, AND IF YOU WISH TO ANSWER AN INDISCREET QUESTION, WHAT PLACE DOES LOVE OCCUPY IN YOUR LIFE?
-I feel in this regard that I adhere very much to Christian principles. Christ said “love thy neighbour as much as yourself”. I go further and believe that one should love one's neighbours more than oneself. I firmly believe love is more than an extension of the sexual drive/instinct –as some people propound presently-. I see love as a great/powerful force that unites not only human beings but the totality of the universe. I believe, -though some may think it is out of the question- that there is love in the microcosmos. To me love is the great force, the great lever. I accept God's existence if God is love. What I do not accept is God as an angry God, a fiscal God or a God who harbours harmful sentiments.
HOW DO YOU CONCEPTUALISE THE UNIVERSE, COULD YOU GIVE US AN INKLING INTO YOUR CONCEPTION OF IT AND HOW WE CAN APPREHEND IT?
-I will try. I belive, as nowadays is said, that “everything is in motion”. I visualize in the universe series of rhythms of different amplitudes, from the more imperceptible up to the more superperceptible, existing in a sort of self-appointed order that continues of itself, so that if man cannot be the instigator of continuous motion, he can at least imagine it. This is my conceptualization: a series of waves of energy that some times condenses itself into matter, while at other time disperses itself into the various forms of energy, but always with a periodicity and in an ordered series of rythms
WHAT IS YOUR MOST VIVID MEMORY?
-My most lasting memory (speaker lowers his voice)…: the departure, the exodus, the brutal exodus of almost a million people across the Pyrinees when the Spanish Republic lost the civil war in the Catalan front in 1939.
DO YOU BELIEVE THAT MAN IS FREE, OR DO YOU SEE HIM AS PARTLY OR TOTALLY THE VICTIM OF CONDITIONING?
-It all hinges on your definition of freedom. I do not believe that man is free in the sense that he is the product of his genetic inheritance, that he has not chosen, of his environmental pressures, which he has not created or has no control over, of his upbringing, etc. Nevertheless, within his circumstances, man always has choices available to him. I would say that man enjoys a refrained freedom, something like the sort of thing that horses have in a circus…or the animals in a good Zoo, who can chose how and when and where they will move within their boundaries but cannot transgress them.
HOW DO YOU EMPLOY YOUR FREE TIME, SUPPOSING YOU HAVE IT?
- I do have it, and if not, I do my best to find it : firstly, reading; secondly, playing chess and thirdly, making physical work in the land.
IS THERE SOMETHING YOU WOULD LIKE TO ADD TO THIS INTERVIEW?
Your questions rate you as a cultured person, while, I would not say that they were somewhat malicious, but, certainly…very invasive