“The truth, which is the same as the divine, can never be experienced directly. We can only perceive it as a reflection, through a metaphor, in a symbol, in individual or familiar images. We will experience it as the intangible life and we will never relinquish our desire to know it better.”
 Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Photo: Andrej Blatnik

The phenomenon of the sacred became apparent in parallel with late 19th century religious development. It was further established within the phenomenological school of thought[1] through a work by the German philosopher and religious historian Rudolf Otto, The Idea of the Holy,[2] in which Otto presents a theory about the sacred as a generally accepted and indispensable human spiritual a-priorism. He unveiled the substance of religious experience, its specific characteristics, and shed light on its irrational side. The sacred, and with it the whole of religiousness, is for him a primal human understanding, and not a historical phenomenon that might appear and one day, therefore, also disappear. Previously, the word “sacred” had only been used as an adjective, denoting the character of things, of places and individuals whose core was transcendental and unknowable. The sacred has an ambivalent nature; it is at the same time frightening and attractive. One could compare it with the child’s perception of fire; the child is both attracted to fire and frightened by it.

 

The complete article is published in Autumn issue of Piranesi No. 31 Vol. 20.

Subscribe to printed magazine.