Ph. by Anna Rapisarda
The attraction felt by man towards the natural environment is a genetic matter and is dictated by the psychophysical beneficial effects that it exerts, including favouring the reduction of mental fatigue and providing for the consequent reactivation of attention.
In this vital man-nature exchange, the water element coming into play within the landscape amplifies the sense of belonging to the environment itself, to the point of generating a preference with respect to contexts that do not have one.
Welcome to the dimension of hydrophilia
We are in a landscape exerting a unique fascination on human beings: the reference to the flow of water is ancestral, that particular bond in which man prefers the presence of water, not only in natural contexts, but also within urban scenarios, i.e. “urban hydrophilia”.
In the concept of “place” with Eric Dardel (1986): a subjectivity of lived space
The French geographer investigates and perceives the value and the therapeutic power of the water landscape in its soothing essence, in line with the concept of hydrophilia: “But the aquatic space is also discreet. There is something private and soothing about it. One likes to talk about the murmur of the waters, the whispering of the streams. The song of the waters seems full of innuendos, just as the luminosity is full of chiaroscuro. And the liquid space stops, expanding in the real stillness of the lake. But the vast silence of the waters does not have the same nature as the great silence of the forest; its immobility does not have the same value as the fixity of the plain; it is a restrained, collected mobility, a rest conquered by restlessness”.
On the waves of the awareness to be recovered
Ten-year studies and experiments confirm the beneficial influence that the water landscape exerts on man, but despite this, interest in its role is still little considered in environmental redevelopment processes.
“Awareness is the original construction of one’s way of relating to the world – as identity knowledge, truly capable of elevating a person above ignorance and plain information”* As Fabio Lando wrote in 1993 in “Fatto e finzione (Fact and fiction) Geografia e letteratura” (Geography and Literature): “[…] Awareness takes shape from (or in) our daily relationship with the environment, i.e. from (or in) the space experienced according to our territoriality”.
Culture for an ethical evolution
And instead our awareness has been warped, the economic and operational choices of our culture sail in the opposite direction to all those actions that should be undertaken in the man-nature relationship and which would lead to an indispensable development of society in this area.
The dissemination of the values of an ecological conscience through the union of literature and environmental philosophy could “contribute to an evolution of the way we ethically orient ourselves in our relationship with the non-human world”.
* from unaparolaalgiorno.it
“Paesaggi d’acqua e idrofilia (Water landscapes and hydrophilia). Luoghi, letteratura, percezioni tra geografia letteraria e coscienza ecologica” (Places, literature, perceptions between literary geography and ecological awareness) by Carlotta Favaro, Francesco Vallerani (Bollettino della Società Geografica Italiana, 2019)