Faith in Destiny
Everywhere we go, there is a line to follow! Civilization is
the destination. I took this photo near Sousse, in Tunisia.
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One of my favorite visual impressions in physical reality is the disappearance of the ground-sky interface. I first discovered it in the Alps, were clouds frequently come in direct contact with the permanently snow-covered summits of the highest mountains. It can get very hard to tell where the earth stops and where the sky begins.
This photo initially triggers a similar effect. The sky seems to stop at the character’s feet... or even below. Of course, after a few instants the brain manages to get past the illusion, to unlock the physical reality that was captured in this photograph, to realize that it’s actually dealing with a beach-sea-city-sky continuum.
But this first impression remains. There’s a city in the sky and the character’s looking its way.
“Faith in Destiny”. Now that’s an interesting title.
Though most people use “fate” and “destiny” interchangeably, they actually designate two nearly opposite concepts - “fate” is the inexorable result of what happened before the present, whereas “destiny” is the anticipation of a future given the current situation. “Fate” introduces the concept of fatality; “destiny” deals with destinations, goals. Fate binds people, whereas destiny projects them.
As for “faith”, it’s the opposite of “knowledge” - it’s the belief in something that is impossible to prove (it is by definition irrational). Typically, one’s faith is aimed toward their gods - something that transcends them, that likely determines them by defining their fate. Greek tragedy comes to mind.
Here, though, we’re dealing with destiny - something that people set for their own sake. Having faith in destiny, unlike having faith in fate, means irrationally believing in one’s own ability to set oneself a destination and to advance toward it. I think it’s a very humanist kind of faith.
Back to the photo. In the horizon (which, remember, didn’t look like a horizon at first), we see a city. It’s the only non-natural element in the setting. This is the character’s destination. It’s the place he want’s to go to. He’s going toward civilization, leaving the cradle of nature. That doesn’t mean he’s giving up on nature, it just means he wants to interact with mankind.
Now, a frequent belief in occidental religions is the concept of heaven - the place good people go to when they die (whereas bad people go to hell). Morality ultimately relies on the believer’s faith in the existence of hell to motivate him to be a good person. In most of these occidental religions, heaven is also the place god(s) live in, and it’s usually either in the sky or above it.
As discussed earlier, the city initially appears to be sitting in the middle of the sky. I’m going to go ahead and say this city is the character’s heaven. It’s not situated in the actual sky, though - we’re literally dealing with a case of heaven on earth here. The destination isn’t an eternal afterlife with fellow deceased, but a present life with the actual, present humankind.
In other words, civilization is bliss.