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Nikos Kazantzakis's Bergsonian Spain: connecting philosophy, Spanish literature and cultural landscapes.

Anyone who goes to Spain today has a great responsibility, if he decides to report her fearful tragedy to other human beings. He is no longer out of danger. He can no longer be irresponsible, free to portray costumes, landscapes, gardens and old churches and pretty scenes, or exotic spectales: the gypsies of Seville, the dancers and the castanets and the bullfights.

Nikos Kazantzakis, Spain 159-60, penned in Autumn, 1936

We may never know what French philosopher Henri Bergson might have written had he been able to travel extensively throughout Spain (1)--but thankfully we have Nikos Kazantzakis's Bergsonian travelogue Spain (Taxidhevontas Ispania, 1937) to consider. Kazantzakis (1883-1957)--one of the most significant Greek authors of the twentieth century (2)--was, like many Spaniards themselves, (3) a former student of Bergson's in Paris (Poulakidas 267; see also Owens, Creative 56-64). It is clear that these classes, which he attended between 1907-1908, resonated powerfully with Kazantzakis--in 1913, he published a lengthy article on Bergson's thought in the Bulletin of the Educational Society, in 1915 he translated Bergson's Laughter into modern Greek, and as Andreas Poulakidas convincingly argues in his "Kazantzakis and Bergson," the Greek novelist's fiction is heavily marked by the French philosopher's intuitions regarding temporality, memory and consciousness (Poulakidas 267, 273, 268-72; on Bergsonian influence see also Middleton 4-7; Dombrowski 9-26;

Bien, Kazantzakis 36-53). N. Georgopoulos alleges an even more profound connection between the thought of each, writing that, "the element that gave that wholeness [of Kazantzakis's thought] its encompassing and integral character and the thread that lent it continuity was the philosophy of Henri Bergson" (34; also Bien, Nikos; Friedman). Even later in life, Kazantzakis would write to a friend, recalling those days in Paris when "awe-struck, I used to attend the courses of my revered master, Henri Bergson" (letter to Borje Knos dated October 4, 1946; excerpt reprinted in H. Kazantzakis 459).

Surprisingly, the Greek's travelogue itself has scarcely been touched by Hispanist critics--just as it has been overshadowed by studies of Kazantzakis's fiction within the humanities more broadly considered. It would seem that the only notable exception to these trends is Emmanuel Hatzantonis's essay titled "Kazantzakis's Spiritual Journey through Spain," published in Hispania in December of 1966. Therein, Hatzantonis provides a general overview of Spain, mentioning that in 1926, Kazantzakis
   visited Spain for the first time and had an interview with Primo de
   Rivera. Six years later he returned to Madrid, meeting such old
   friends as Timoteo Perez Rubio and Juan Ramon Jimenez, and making
   the acquaintance of Lorca, Benavente, Valle-Inclan and other
   eminent writers. As a result of his intensive study of Peninsular
   literature, Kazantzakis undertook the translation into modern Greek
   of selected poems from the works of Unamuno, Salinas, Lorca,
   Aleixandre, Alberti, Moreno Villa and other contemporary Spanish
   poets. Unfortunately his enthusiasm for work was interrupted by the
   news of his father's sudden death. Overwhelmed with grief, he
   sought relief by means of a long trip throughout the Peninsula, but
   he came back to Madrid disconsolate and shortly after, left Spain
   (March 23, 1933). He returned three years later as a correspondent
   covering the Civil War, and in 1950 as a tourist accompanied by his
   wife and some friends. (787)

The brief essay goes on to highlight a number of pertinent details--namely that Kazantzakis's volume eschews a romantic/touristic view of Spain and gives priority to Spain's literature (4)--yet this approach to "Greece's first travel-book" (790) is in the main focused on pointing out that "Evidently, Kazantzakis's Spain is neither a tourist's chronicle nor a travelogue offering a host of major or minor 'useful' data intended to instruct the prospective Greek tourist" (790). Given that Hatzantonis's published overview is so brief, that it is relatively descriptive instead of analytical, and that it was published over fifty years ago, it is imperative to suggest that there may be much more of interest in Kazantzakis's Spain than has been previously asserted by scholarship.

The present essay thus seeks to address this lacuna of scholarship through an eclectic approach that reads Kazantzakis's text at once though his deep interests in both Bergsonian philosophy and Spanish literature. The resulting argument reveals connections between Kazantzakis's approach and the writings of the Spanish authors he cites (i.e. Unamuno's intrahistoria, Ganivet's psychological geography, Azorin's literary landscapes) just as it foregrounds the contribution of Bergsonian philosophy to the contemporary literature on human landscapes in cultural geography. This effort is, in addition, a corrective of sorts to the wider tradition of travel writing criticism that has more often than not ignored narratives focused on Spain (i.e. Gilbert and Johnston, Pratt, Spurr, Thomas, Clark). Part of the cause for this neglect has perhaps been Spain's wildly oscilating history--formerly a world empire that systematically produced travel narratives of other lands, Spain fell from grace and was subsequently seen to lag behind other nations, not only during the Franco dictatorship (1939-75) but dating from at least the eighteenth century (Feijoo, Goytisolo), if not from the defeat of the Invincible Armada in 1588. Yet if approaches grounded in imperial/colonializing discourses of empire (such as the above) are not quite appropriate in grasping the everyday realities of travel through twentieth-century Spain, Kazantzakis's travelogue thankfully suggests and even requires another perspective.

Whereas Washington Irving may have classically exoticized nineteenth-century Spain in his Tales of the Alhambra (1832), Richard Wright may have painted the portrait of a Pagan Spain (1957) beneath the Catholic veneer of Franco's dictatorship, and Gerald Brenan may have achieved a superb political reading of the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War in The Face of Spain (1951), Nikos Kazantzakis draws landscape and literature together in a decidedly philosophical approach. In his desire to touch the "Spanish soul" (Hatzantonis 791), Kazantzakis not only dialogues explicitly (and implicitly) with the literary giants of Spain's twentieth century--he also goes beyond the visual spectacle characteristic of a touristic view. In this way, his attempt points more directly than other travel accounts to the immaterial component of landscape--the imagined potential of landscape as a vehicle for exploring philosophical and culturally-negotiated views of place. It is precisely this aspect of place that points to the cultural negotiation and complex reconciliation of the subjective and the objective, the individual and the social, and the qualitative and the quantitative. It is ultimately the Bergsonian nature of his travel narrative that foregrounds a philosophical connection with much recent work in cultural geography and tourism studies.


While it has perhaps been common to read Kazantzakis through Bergson, critics have tended to apply this approach only to his fiction, in the main con centrating on those aspects of Bergsonism most relevant to religious/spiritual concerns. (5) Bergson's work was, however, of such a strongly interdisciplinary character (Fraser, Encounters) that it would be short-sighted to reduce his extensive writings to that theme alone. (6) Instead, Nikos Kazantzakis's travelogue simultaneously engages the deep spirit of Bergsonian thought just as it does the rich literary tradition of contemporary Spain.

Spain in fact foregrounds its Bergsonian inheritance from the outset. True to Bergson's original premise, in the first chapter titled "On Entering Spain" Kazantzakis does not enter a country, rather, he enters a contradiction ("Spain has two faces," 15). His text plays up narrative's affinity with time, as in its stream-of-consciousness description of a scene at the Spanish border where its author writes of: "Someone's back: straight, bony, proud. A bunch of onions hanging from the back and a guitar. Another back.... And another.... And another. Workmen's shirts, worn out, reeking of sweat, wine, garlic, human smells" (16). The Greek's vision is durational as he waxes poetic on the persistence of the past, which endures for him in the present landscape:
   I am concentrating time: all the races that over the centuries
   passed over these plots of land and mixed their blood pass again in
   front of me--as though the mind were capable of holding the wheel
   of time and giving it a sudden impetus: Iberians, Celts,
   Phoenicians, Greeks, Carcadonians, Romans, Vandals, Visigoths,
   Arabs, Hebrews. (17-18)

Furthermore, Kazantzakis foregrounds for the reader a discussion with a Spanish youth (19-22) that underscores his intent to go beyond the spectacular touristic vision of Spain ("But Spain is not a theatrical production. Nor are we extras dressed up in medieval costumes" 20). These instances, culled merely from the text's first chapter, foreground a concern shared by both the Greek author and the French philosopher to go beyond space into time, to chart the seemingly contradictory interpenetration of the qualitative and the quantitative, to avoid thinking through static snapshots and to place oneself in a consistently changing duree. Bergson had, after all, previously outlined the importance of not spatializing time in Time and Free Will (1889), the need to go beyond what he called 'intellectual' thought in Creative Evolution (1907), and the goal of adopting the perspective of change itself in "Introduction to Metaphysics" (1903), among other places in his oeuvre. Nonetheless, as Hispanist scholars will know--and importantly, Kazantzakis was himself well versed in modern Spanish literature--many of these Bergsonian aspects of Spain simultaneously have another possible interpretation.

For example, mention of Spain's 'two faces' (above, 15; also 23) recalls the notion of "Las dos Espanas," which was notably advanced by Francisco Giner de los Rios (the Krausist founder of the Institucion Libre de Ensenanza in 1876; see Fraser "What") as a way of contrasting the progressive, tolerant, loosely conceived spiritual forces of Spain from their traditional, myopic and dogmatically Catholic counterparts (Giner de los Rios and the Free School are mentioned in Spain, 52-55). Similarly, the notion of contradiction was just as important for Bergson as it was for Spanish philosopher and author Miguel de Unamuno--who was arguably influenced by the former (Fraser "Unamuno and Bergson")--as evidenced in the latter's treatise Del sentimiento tragico de la vida (Unamuno is mentioned in Spain, 30; 172-77). The need to go beyond spectacular images of Spain was also a key component of the thought of the Generation of 98, particularly Azorin (the pen-name of Jose Martinez Ruiz) who extolled the barren landscapes of central Spain as the manifestation and reflection of a spiritual asceticism. (7) For Kazantzakis just as for Azorin and other members of the Generation of 98, Spain's landscape is a desolate one, and one that has had an effect on the psychological character of the Spaniard:
   Boundless plains and high plateaus whence the waters have vanished,
   rivers that have changed their course, leaving only sand and
   granite in their wake. Naked, stripped of flesh and clothes and
   ornaments, the skeleton of the earth ... [...] So the spirit grows
   brave, learns willynilly, that fear is a mortal weakness and that
   from only one person can salvation be expected: oneself. Only this
   remains faithful. Life is tragic. [...] This is how spirits are
   fashioned in the boundless wastelands: in Spain, in Africa, at the
   Poles [...] This sublime lesson in courage is well known to the
   Spaniard. His own wastelands have taught it to him. (28-29)

This connection made by the Greek between the geography of Spain and the Spanish temperament, of course, recalls the psycho-geographical study of the Spanish character famously outlined by Angel Ganivet, precursor of the Generation of 98, in his work Idearium Espanol (67; Ganivet is mentioned in Spain, 81, 83-85). (8) Nonetheless, these Spanish connections do not in any way mitigate the Bergsonian nature of Spain--and in light of Kazantzakis's deep interest in the Frenchman's philosophy and the literature of Spain it is likely that both influenced his written travelogue in more or less equal parts.

Likewise, the way in which Kazantzakis explicitly contextualizes his travel narrative as a bridge between inner experience and outer reality reflects not only a savvy understanding of the nature of travel writing but also a fundamental Bergsonian postulate. The prologue to Spain (11-12) points out that in "wander[ing] over the earth [...] we not only come to know ourselves; far, far more important, we are able to transcend our own insanely proud egos [...]. Every journey of mine, whether the cause or the result, marked some internal crisis in myself" (11). One can argue that the defining characteristic of Bergsonian thought is precisely its nuanced and complex stance regarding movement. Specifically, in Matter and Memory (1896), Bergson had discussed movement across space as always necessarily qualitative--not merely as a translation in space, the (quantitative) distance between two points, but rather as an event expressing a (qualitative) change in the Whole.

If we analyze in the same way the concept of motion, the living symbol of this seemingly homogeneous duration, we shall be led to make a distinction of the same kind. We generally say that a movement takes place in space, and when we assert that motion is homogeneous and divisible, it is of the space traversed that we are thinking, as if it were interchangeable with the motion itself. Now, if we reflect further, we shall see that the successive positions of the moving body really do occupy space, but that the process by which it passes from one position to the other, a process which occupies duration and which has no reality except for a conscious spectator, eludes space. We have to do here not with an object but with a progress: motion, in so far as it is a passage from one point to another, is a mental synthesis, a psychic and therefore unextended process. (original emphasis, Time and Free Will, 110-11)

One cannot equate movement with the distance covered, as to do so would be to reduce time to space (the first thesis of Bergson's Matter and Memory; see also the discussion of the Eleatic paradox of Achilles and the tortoise, Time and Free Will). In the same way, Kazantzakis's narrative in the main delves ever inward, chronicling his own inner experience of being in Spain in lieu of an exhaustive description of the sights and sounds he encounters along the way.

Spain is also Bergsonian as regards the awe Kazantzakis holds for the Spanish mystics in particular and the respect he holds for Spain in general. As critic Jorge Uscatescu notes in his "Bergson y la mistica espanola," "Espana y la espiritualidad hispana han ejercido un singular influjo sobre la formacion y el espiritu de Henri Bergson" (465). Bergson himself wrote at length on mysticism in The Two Sources of Morality and Religion (1932), therein referring to Santa Teresa by name (e.g. 84)--and Uscatescu aptly quotes Bergson: "A San Juan de la Cruz y a Santa Teresa [...] se les debe colocar por encima de todos los misticos. Su lectura me ha iluminado mucho" (466). Bergson himself referenced the Spanish mystics also in a lecture at the Ateneo in Madrid, (9) and at the Residencia de Estudiantes lauded Spain in general. (10) In the former speech, titled on "The Human Soul," Bergson noted the following:

...Great has been Spain's contribution to arms, to letters, to the sciences and also--permit me to say it--to philosophy. More than once I have heard it said modestly, all too modestly, to Spaniards, traveling in Paris, that Spain's contribution to philosophy has not been as considerable as its labor in other areas of culture. To this I reply: "That is not my opinion." (see also Chevalier 71)

In his travelogue, Kazantzakis echoes this Bergsonian praise of the philosophical contribution of Spain with singular passion--as have many Spaniards before him--using the landscape itself as a vehicle for exploring this philosophical perspective. Kazantzakis's Bergsonian approach to the Spanish cultural landscape in Spain in fact blends almost seamlessly with the more philosophical meditations on landscape carried out by Miguel de Unamuno and Azorin. In this regard, the next section explores the connection between Kazantzakis's Bergsonian search for the soul of Spain and the notions of intrahistoria and literary landscapes. The result is a destabilizing and shared disdain for touristic snapshots of place, as Kazantzakis harnesses philosophical thought on the way to fashioning a contrarian Spanish landscape that escapes facile codification.


Just as Bergson had touted the significance of inner experience (his first book is subtitled revealingly, The Immediate Data of Consciousness) as contrasted with outer realities, Kazantzakis follows in the footsteps of Spanish authors who emphasized the significance of subjectivity. In all three cases (Bergson, Kazantzakis, and in this case, Unamuno), it was not that the subjective triumphed over the objective definitively as in a simplistic idealism, but rather that inner and outer realities must be seen in light of a complex and creative tension. Unamuno's own literary production consistently focused on the intersection and contradiction of the qualitative and quantitative aspects of life, perhaps most clearly in Amor y pedagogia where the relentless drive to reach a totalizing control of reality is explored in both humorous and tragic dimensions (Fraser, Encounters). His notion of the Sentimiento tragico de la vida similarly held both reason and faith in dialectical tension as Unamuno persistently pursued what Brian Cope has recently called a "defense of uncertainty" (478).

Bergson himself--although he was frequently and erroneously seen as a monist--advocated just such a complex philosophy bridging the qualitative and the quantitative, and argued neither for idealism nor its counterpart, realism (Matter and Memory 14-15). In order to grasp totality (Bergson consistently argues that "Philosophy can only be an effort to dissolve again into the Whole," Creative Evolution 191), one must release the tidy categories of intellect. In the same way, Unamuno problematized the very notion of authentic Spanishness in his early book En torno al casticismo (1902, originally published as essays in 1895), arguing for the notion of intrahistoria, which lay outside of existing canonical written/intellectual histories. (11)
   Las olas de la Historia, con su rumor y su espuma que revereba al
   sol, ruedan sobre un mar continuo, hondo, inmensamente mas hondo
   que la capa que ondula sobre un mar silencioso y a cuyo ultimo
   fondo nunca llega el sol [...] Esa vida intra-historica, silensiosa
   y continua como el fondo mismo del mar, es la sustancia del
   progreso, la verdadera tradicion, la tradicion eterna, no la
   tradicion mentida que se suele ir a buscar al pasado enterrado en
   libros y papeles, y monumentos y piedras. (41, 42)

For critic Mary Ruth Strzeszewski, this idea of intrahistoria, "conceptualized largely in relation to the Castilian landscape, can be seen as a theory of landscape, as well as a metaphysical concept" (24). As she argues convincingly, in the work of both Unamuno and Azorin, travel was favorably opposed to tourism: "Both Unamuno and Azorin speak disparagingly of the developing tourist industry [...] In contrast to the overstimulated adventure seeker and the jaded tourist, the traveler in the writings of Unamuno and Azorin is a contemplative one" (Strzeszewski 6). The 'theory of landscape' implicit in the notion of intrahistory is thus one distrustful of appearances and intent on a deeper grasp of the complex human significance of the land.

If Unamuno (and Azorin) articulated such a theory of landscape, Kazantzakis applies a similar theory to the Spaniard's own landscape, taking on the role of the very 'contemplative' traveler who eschews Spain as authentic spectacle in favor of a more nuanced and even profound understanding of the country (see epigraph, this essay). His discussion of "Toledo," for example --a town that was at once a symbol of Spain's historical past and (through el Greco's paintings) a point of regeneration for the noventayochistas who celebrated it as an epicenter of mysticism--reveals his refusal to adopt such a spectacular view. Kazantzakis writes:

What a pity to seek pictureque ruins and romantic retreats in the famous old cities, along with all the other painted stage effects, where our whorish imaginations like to revel and blare. It is very hard to see a place with our own eyes when a great poet has passed through the place before us. Spain is the discovery of a few poets and painters and flamboyant tourists. Ever since, the mantillas and bullfights and castanets and gypsies of Granada and cigarette girls of Seville and gardens of Valencia have been firing our imaginations.

I am struggling to detach myself from this yoke. (91-92, c.f. "The Real Toledo" 182-84)

Alluding implicitly to the comments of the youth on the train with whom Kazantzakis speaks in the first chapter of Spain (above), the Greek once again criticizes the touristic notion of the city as a stage, just as he yearns for a deeper vision of landscape and simultaneously points indirectly (in the last sentence above) to the way that cultural landscapes are the product of a process of creation. Whereas certain 'poets, painters and tourists' may have encoded Toledo with a certain meaning through what Unamuno might have called History with a capital letter (above, En torno 41), beneath this perception there is another, "Real Toledo." It is only at night that Kazantzakis is able to experience this real Toledo (182-84)--and then, in the aftermath of the destruction of war. The 'Real Toledo' persists despite the absence of "positive logical patterns, the balanced forms, the serene life: the shops, houses, churches, wine shops" (183), and the Greek concludes that even with so much of the daytime vision missing, "The essence of Toledo has remained" (183).

Kazantzakis's musings on Toledo are instructive as regards the theory of landscape that I propose is shared by Unamuno, Azorin and Kazantzakis (extending Strzeszewki's idea, above). Like Bergson's philosophy, this theory is 'negative'--that is, it is 'negative' in the sense that one must move backward, abandoning preconceived notions, in order to arrive at a more accurate understanding of landscape. The thrust of Bergson's philosophy, for example, sought to return from intellectual speculation to the very real and mobile world from which intellectual thought had distanced itself. His metaphor of the 'cinematograph of the mind' (Creative Evolution 306-07), his emphasis on the 'immediate data of consciousness' (Time and Free Will) and his outline of the method of intuition against the facile designs of intellect ("Introduction to Metaphysics") all point to the significance of this movement. Similarly, in The Two Sources of Morality and Religion, the French philosopher points to the difference of kind that opposes dynamic religion (the original spark of living religion) and static religion (the moribund detritis constituted by dogma, the hard shell that tends to form around living religion). Unamuno uses a similar method to point to the internal difference within what passes for authentic Castillian literature at the same time that he, like Kazantzakis, points to the notion of intrahistoria as a possible inspiration for change.

En aquella literatura [su edad de oro literaria] se va a buscar el modelo de casticismo; es la literatura castellana eminentemente castiza, a la vez que es nuestra literatura clasica. En ella siguen viviendo ideas hoy moribundas, mientras en el fondo intra-historico del pueblo espanol viven las fuerzas que encarnaron en aquellas ideas y que pueden encarnar en otras. Si, pueden encarnar en otras, sin romperse la continuidad de la vida; no puede asegurarse que caeremos siempre en los mismos errores y en los mismos vicios. (original emphasis, En torno 61)

This view is consistent with the belief, widely held by the noventayochistas, that a new Spain could be reforged, regenerated and revitalized from its former self. And yet for Unamuno, what makes this change possible is the power of the mind, which may stitch things together as it sees fit (ibid. 72). As Kazantzakis and Unamuno suggest in line with Bergsonian thought--there is still the possibility that we may (and in fact continuously do) more actively construct our landscapes both in terms of their physical formation (human landscape as evolving over centuries) and their cultural representation and significance.

Kazantzakis's persistent referencing of works and figures associated with Spanish literature is thus in no way casual. Spain is an onomastic triumph, and his experience of the Spanish landscape must be seen as inseparable from his experience of Spanish literature--he mentions Azorin (81), Pio Baroja (81), Calderon (26-27), Cervantes (throughout; Kazantzakis's original poem "Don Quixote" appears 149-55), Joaquim Costa (81-83), Gerardo Diego (251-52), Angel Ganivet (81, 83-85), Federico Garcia Lorca (107-08, 239), Don Francisco Giner de los Rios (52-54), Gongora (38, 74, 89), Juan Ramon Jimenez (79, 254), Don Juan (127-28), Antonio Machado (54-55, 81, 177-78, 254), Miro (81), Jose Ortega y Gasset (81, 87-88), Quevedo (44, 74), Luis de Ponce y Leon (48), Pedro Salinas (50), Santa Teresa (18, 58-64, 77), Unamuno (30, 81, 85-87, 172-77), Valle-Inclan (81), and Lope de Vega (51, 74), among many other political figures and artists. The effect created by his quoting many of the literary greats of Spain fuses their words with his experience of the Spanish landscape. Literature is for Kazantzakis, as for Unamuno, a portal through which to access intrahistoria, the deeper Spain that lies beyond monuments and stone and historical texts. His travelogue's focus on the literary is not an attempt to essentialize Spain--as in present day cultural tourism where one can tour Unamuno's home, etc. ("Tourism and culture now plainly overlap and there is no clear frontier between the two," Rojek and Urry 3; also Craik)--but rather to harness the more profound philosophical power of literature to go beyond facile categories of intellect toward an intuitive grasp of place that cannot be boiled down to a touristic vision. This is, in fact, just what Azorin hoped to accomplish in his careful construction of a series of literary landscapes in El paisaje de Espana visto por los espanoles, a work organized by headings such as "Galicia," "Alicante," "Castilla," and so on--a work intent on integrating places with their literature.

If we think of the contemporary commonsensical notion that travel involves 'getting away from it all'--passively appreciating the surface of another place--Kazantzakis's travelogue persistently insists on the experience of travel as an active, participatory process that requires a deep knowledge of that place, in his case inflected by his deep knowledge of Spanish literature. The final section of this essay builds on this premise, looking at Kazantzakis's narrative through the contemporary context of tourism studies and cultural geography. In the process, the case is made for reading Spain against the predominance of a spectacular vision of foreign lands and for situating it within a tradition that underscores the immaterial components of landscape.


Kazantzakis's Spain is notable when viewed from within traditions of travel writing, generally speaking, in that it continually frustrates the intellectual/rational vision of place that so frequently obtains in travel writing (Duncan and Gregory 2) just as it lauds the unspectacular qualities of place (see Siegel 2). Instead of an attempt to reveal "authentic Spanish values" (Hatzantonis 791) to readers--unless 'authentic' is understood in the decidedly intrahistoric sense explored by Unamuno in En torno al casticismo--Spain is a concerted attempt to fuse outer objectivity and inner subjectivity, the materiality of the Spanish landscape with the immaterial aspects of the culture of place. As such it not only stays true to Bergson's reconciliatory philosophical perspective, but it also squares with a tradition of cultural geography that has put increasing emphasis on the non-material forces through which landscape is viewed, represented and experienced.

Bergson had famously contrasted the world of objects with the world of mental states, only to delimit and later reconcile what he called both qualitative and quantitative multiplicities (Time and Free Will 85-86, 97, 121-23). In Matter and Memory, he elaborated on this central premise, arguing against perspectives he called idealism and realism (307-09) in order to paint a more complex picture of the relationship between space and time, extension and consciousness, matter and memory than such narrow categories would have permitted.
   Between the plane of action--the plane in which our body has
   condensed its past into motor habits,--and the plane of pure
   memory, where our mind retains in all its details the picture of
   our past life, we believe that we can discover thousands of
   different planes of consciousness, a thousand integral and yet
   diverse repetitions of the whole of the experience through which we
   have lived. (322)

His persistent attempt to fuse metaphysics (philosophy) and science (The Creative Mind 41) needs be understood as a method capable of addressing the complex interaction between two contradictory models of understanding experience that tend toward either the qualitative or the quantitative. The methodological insistence on the coexistence of 'thousands of different planes of consciousness' makes possible the realization that cultural forces--a synthesis of individual and social practices--are constantly at work to actualize certain understandings of the past that, in Bergsonian terms, await such actualization in a state of virtuality (The Creative Mind).

Quite a similar method began to develop within the field of geography over the course of the twentieth century, as cultural geography evolved into a nuanced subfield driven, in fact, by the very opposition between the qualitative and the quantitative underscored by philosophers such as Bergson. Geographer Carl Sauer's landmark essay "The Morphology of Landscape" (1925) marked a turn within the field toward the influence of culture on place, even if its focus was still on its materiality, i.e. the physical landscape as a manifestation or product of culture, culture as the force that gives shape to natural landscapes. Yet as cultural geographers would elucidate throughout the twentieth century, the less material--even immaterial--cultural aspects of landscape representation and viewing were just as important as its physical contours. If Sauer, as Don Mitchell relates "was largely concerned with effects, with the shape rather than the shaping of the earth" (29), more and more, cultural geographers devoted themselves to the task of unpacking the necessarily cultural processes of both the production and representation of landscapes. The complex philosophical inheritance of this major shift required, as Alan Latham and Derek McCormack have recently stated in lucid terms, "a notion of the material that admits from the very start the presence and importance of the immaterial" (703).

The related development of the interdisciplinary field of tourism studies has perhaps offered a privileged vantage point from which to assess the interaction between material and immaterial forces as regards landscape (e.g. John Urry's influential The Tourist Gaze; on tourism in Spain see Afinoguenova and Marti-Olivella). Tourism geographer Chris Rojek succintly suggests a contemporary, nuanced understanding of travel that is also relevant to Kazantzakis's text when he writes that: "Spatially speaking, then, travel experience involves mobility through an internal landscape which is sculptured by personal experience and cultural influences as well as a journey through space" (53). As if keenly aware of this notion of the internal cultural landscape, aware of the fact that "myth and fantasy play an unusually large role in the social construction of all travel and tourist sights" (Rojek 53, original emphasis), Kazantzakis is quite content to move quickly from descriptions of the "low hovels" of Central Castile (56) to the story of mystic Santa Teresa, to move from the "silent grass and the cat sunning itself" (48) in contemporary Salamanca to the story of Luis Ponce de Leon. If, for Rojek, tourism is best understood as an inward movement, Kazantzakis moves deeply inward, at once drawing upon his own deep literary knowledge and also Spain's intrahistory. His Spanish landscape is both material and immaterial, owing to his fundamentally Bergsonian philosophical perspective ("For what we call 'material substance' and what we call 'Spirit' are interchangeable," Kazantzakis 63). Similarly, just as for Bergson the qualitative enfolded the quantitative within itself (Time and Free Will 122-23), the Greek states that "The theoretical mind, far removed from action, is very fortunate, for it has the privilege of looking both right and left, and so joining the two wings that raise the Spirit" (78). His inner journey strays far from the "inhuman arid land of New Castile" (73) or the "little white huts" of Cordoba (104), folding these sights back into a qualitatively spiritual renunciation of the visual that has as much to do with his praise of the Spanish mystics as it does with his distrust of the surface experience that characterizes the touristic gaze. Just as theorists such as James Clifford have moved away from "the typical representation of the native-in-place as the authentic or emblematic representative of a localised culture" without overemphasizing the "intercultural figure of the traveler" (Lury 76), Kazantzakis strives for a reserved synthesis between inner and outer. The Greek takes a meaningful step back from the spectacular visuality of the tourist experience to purposely become more contemplative. In this way, he purposely bucks a tradition in which "the visual is centrally important in the construction of touristic memories" (Crawshaw and Urry 179).

In this sense, the distance is greatest between Kazantzakis's travelogue and other twentieth-century travel narratives of Spain, such as that of Harry A. Franck, whose authors dreamt merely "of tramping through Spain" (3)--perhaps as does Franck, delivering an account of expenses on the final page ("Transportation...$90 / Food and Lodging...$55, Bullfights, sights, souvenirs ... $10, Miscellaneous...$17," 292). In common with Richard Wright's Pagan Spain, Kazantzakis quotes from Falangist documents of the time, as does Washington Irving's Tales, he comments on the Alhambra, and as in Brenan's The Face of Spain, he devotes much attention to the extensive consequences of the Civil War--yet none of these texts reveals such a nuanced philosophical perspective on landscape as Spain. Returning to the Bergsonian dimensions of this travelogue today ultimately allows an appreciation of the connections that remain to be made across the disciplines of cultural geography, tourism studies/travel writing and even literature. The lesson taught by Kazantzakis's Spain, Unamuno's intrahistoria and by the Bergsonian philosophy running through them both is that at the intersection of the individual and the social there exists a cultural landscape that we may all play a role in reshaping.


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Benjamin Fraser

College of Charleston


(1) Henri Bergson did, as Fraser outlines in his Encounters with Bergson(ism) in Spain, go to Spain in 1916 on a diplomatic mission, delivering speeches at the Ateneo and the Residencia de Estudiantes in Madrid. These former lectures were published by the journal "Espana" and later republished in a study by Spanish philosopher Manuel Garcia Morente. The latter was documented in the journal of the Residencia. See Bergson "Bergson en la Residencia." Landeira Brisson had previously summarized Bergson's visit to Spain (1979: 74). Nevertheless, after visiting Madrid and Toledo, Bergson unexpectedly went back to France directly from Sevilla (Garcia Blanco 38), such that Miguel de Unamuno was disappointed to have not been able to meet him (Fraser, "Unamuno and Bergson"). Interestingly, Kazantzakis was himself indeed able to meet Unamuno in Salamanca, as he relates on pp. 172-77.

(2) Kazantzakis is the author of such books (in English translation) as The Greek Passion, Saint Francis, The Fratricides, The Last Temptation of Christ, The Odyssey: A Modern Sequel, Report to Greco, The Saviors of God: Spiritual Exercises, The Suffering God, Symposium, and Zorba the Greek. He also wrote numerous travel books, not only on Spain but also Greece, England, China, Japan, Israel, and Russia (Friar 11). Significantly, Kazantzakis's works have been translated into some thirty languages (Durant 269), and his reputation has only increased since his death.

(3) Perhaps the most notable Spanish student of Bergson's was none other than poet Antonio Machado. Additionally, those in attendance during Bergson's lectures at the Ateneo in 1916 included A. Maura, M. Azana, E. Pardo Bazan, R. Menendez Pidal, J. Ortega y Gasset, A. Castro, M. de Maeztu, G. Maranon, R. Altamira, and M. Garcia Morente (from Landeira Brisson 1979: 74). For a recent discussion of Bergson and Machado see Fraser, Encounters 23-26.

(4) Hatzantonis suggests that Kazantzakis positions himself against a romantic view of Spain (788) and argues against a touristic vision of Toledo (788), writing that the author of Spain "disdains the conventional and fashionable portrayal of Spain as the land of mantillas, bullfighters, castanets, gypsies of Granada, cigarette vendors of Seville and gardens of Valencia" (787; referring to Kazantzakis 91-92). Importantly, especially when read in light of the more well-known writings of Washington Irving inspired by a visit to Spain (Tales of the Alhambra), Kazantzakis "foregoes almost wholly the description of Alhambra," that touristic symbol par excellence (Hatzantonis 788). Hatzantonis's statement that Kazantzakis "devotes the greatest part of his account to Spain's literature" (789) is evident merely from scanning the pages of Spain, which even obtrusively reference Don Quijote, Santa Teresa, Unamuno, and numerous other literary figures and authors.

(5) For example, Poulakidas discusses Kazantzakis's use of "durational time" and the Bergsonian description of the internal reality of the town of Megalokastro in Freedom or Death (Poulakidas 269, 271). The Bergsonian aspects of Freedom or Death, Journeying and Journey to the Morea are touched upon by Dombrowski (19-26). On religion/spirituality see Dombrowski, Middleton, Owens. Interestingly, Dombrowski points only to Saint Paul and Joan of Arc as having been mystics who influenced Bergson, neglecting entirely the latter's mention of Santa Teresa (18; in Spain, 58-62).

(6) Bergson was the author of: Essai sur les donnees immediates de la conscience (1889, Trans. Time and Free Will//TFW), completed in partial requirement for the docteur es lettres along with another essay on Aristotle's sense of place--Quid Aristoteles de loco senserit; Matiere et Memoire: Essai sur la relation du corps avec l'esprit (1896, Trans. Matter and Memory/MM); L'Evolution creatrice (1907, Trans. Creative Evolution/CE); Le Rire (1900, Trans. Laughter); L'Energie Spiritualle (1919, Trans. Mind-Energy); Duree et Simultaneite (1922, Trans. Duration and Simultaneity/DS); Les Deux Sources de la Morale et de la Religion (1932, Trans. The Two Sources of Morality and Religion/MR); and Le Pensee et le Mouvant (1934, Trans. The Creative Mind/CM). Two other works, although they have been translated into English, are seldom mentioned in contemporary and more recent studies of his ideas: 1) an annotated edition of the poem De Rerum Natura by Lucretius published in 1884 under the title Extraits de Lucrece (and later in English as Philosophy of Poetry, 1959), and 2) an address given as President of the Academie des Sciences Morales et Politiques published as The Mean ing of the War (1915), including a short article on the same theme originally published in the Bulletin des Armees de la Republique. In 1927 he was awarded one of the literary world's greatest honors--the Nobel Prize for Literature.

(7) In a review of a book by Augustus J. C. Hare ("Wanderings in Spain"), Azorin agrees with the author that: "Espana no es un hermoso pais [...] No: el atractivo de Espana es otro; [...] la caracteristica de su paisaje es la gravedad, la fuerza, la nobleza, la severidad" (original emphasis, qtd. in Azorin 71-72). He goes so far as to point out the similarity with the perspective of the aforementioned Francisco Giner de los Rios, who has written in Paisajes that "Tanto en la montana como en el llano se revela una fuerza interior tan robusta, una grandeza tan severa, aun en sus sitios mas pintorescos y risuenos, una nobleza, una dignidad, un senorio, como los que se advierten en el Greco o en Velazquez" (qtd. in Azorin 72). Having quoted these passages at length, Azorin remarks characteristically that "Esta es la verdadera, la tipica, la distintiva belleza de Espana" (72).

(8) As part of his broader attempt to read the personality of the Spanish nation, Ganivet remarks that "Los territorios tienen un caracter natural que depende del espesor y composicion de su masa, y un caracter de relacion que surge de las posiciones respectivas [...]. Comparando los caracteres especificos que en los diversos grupos sociales toman las relaciones inmanentes de sus territorios, se notara que en los pueblos continentales lo caracteristico es la resistencia, en los peninsulares la independencia y en los insulares la agresion" (67).

(9) Bergson's "El alma humana" delivered on 2nd of May 1916 in Madrid's Ateneo, reads: "And if we consider the question from this point of view, then Spain, the land of mysticism, is also the land of philosophy. Because the mystics--I refer to the great mystics, to those who were inspired--had a clear and direct vision of inner life. The mystic reaches deep down inside himself and even goes beyond himself; thus he discovers a world of things that other mortals do not even suspect. Of that world, discovered by the mystic, there is a part, undoubtedly, that only he can perceive; but there is another that the rest of us would be equally able to reach. You will tell me that the mystic is privileged. Without a doubt, the great mystics are inspired people, but what we call method is precisely a manner of bypassing inspiration, and an appropriate method must be exactly that which permits all of us unveiled contemplation, with direct vision, of the details of inner life" (79-80, my translation).

(10) In his address at the Residencia he described France as "la que por su parte ama a Espana" (16). "A Francia, cuya admiracion siempre fue grande por el arte espanol, por la literatura espanola, por todas las contribuciones que Espana ha aportado a la ciencia, a la filosofia, a la civilizacion. Ninguna nacion esta mejor dispuesta para comprender la vuestra, para simpatizar con las corrientes de pensamiento y de sentimiento del alma espanola--alma que siempre estuvo bien viva, pero que esta mas viva hoy que nunca y cuya actividad, en todos los campos, va camino de una renovacion" (16). He also notes Spain's "elevacion moral," its "generosidad," and that it is one of the "naciones nobles" (17). He closes his speech with the words "Dejadme que [...] salude a un tiempo en sus estudiantes y en sus hombres ilustres, a la juventud espanola" (18).

(11) Paul R. Olson points to intrahistory as both the eternal ground "beneath all determinate forms" (22) and also "simply the millions of small details of human life that lie beneath the schematized generalization found in books," although he prefers the former and unfortunately equates it not with Bergsonism but with the Heideggerian notion of "Presence."
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Author:Fraser, Benjamin
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Date:May 1, 2013
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