Entertainment as a Passive Form of Culture

The Passion of J Christ2


A recurring phenomenon occurs when Entertainment becomes a passive form of Culture. Yesterday (25/03/2016) a religious event like the Passion of Jesus Christ took place in Trafalgar Square, London. A play of what happened (or not?) before and after Jesus Christ’s crucifixion was staged in the square. [1]

A giant cinema screen followed simultaneously the performance, and while the noisy traffic of the metropolis was running undisturbed around Nelson’s column, a voice pronounced dramatically the death verdict and the crowd, drinking a coffee, commented on the coup de théâtre like from the comfortable sofa of a living room. The climax came when the resurrection of the Christ was announced and a warm applause filled the piazza. From the central staircase of Trafalgar square Jesus Christ showed up in a white dress, and the monumental facade of the National Gallery framed the spectacular scene behind him.

The show finally finished!

Watching the theatrical/Hollywood cinema representation, I wondered if maybe culture has been reduced to a superficial entertainment operation that prevents us from seeing beyond the facts and immerse ourselves in a world that is ‘other’, a world that lives of spirit and reflection. Entertainment, in its simple and objective understanding, overcomes questions, avoids the complex and personal path towards opinions and interpretations and does so in an attempt to erase all traces of thought from the spectator’s mind.

A thought would make the Passion of Jesus Christ a belief rather than a show.


[1]:  https://www.wintershall-estate.com/events/the-passion-of-jesus/







The dreamers of Wren’s church

Christopher Wren’s church in Piccadilly, London [St James’s Church] has an unusual relationship with spirituality. The darkness of the whole interior does not give prominence to the altar but rather hides it; a Baroque stained glass window offers a series of symbolic representations of Jesus Christ, despite that the religious function of the building appears blurred. A Palladian serliana is repeated on the second floor of the double height aisles, and seems to embrace gently the entire room by enclosing it on three sides and slightly pushing it towards the altar.

The interior of the building reminds of the waiting room of an old railway station and the view of a clock – placed just below the dark and plump gold-stained organ opposite the altar – emphasise the idea of time; mortal rather than eternal. The nave and one of the aisles are lit by low lamps arranged symmetrically on a side of the wooden benches, tending towards the nave so as to illuminate the path that leads to a tiny cross leaning against the altar. The other aisle is darker as no lamps lit the way, and from the mysterious and enigmatic murk comes a repeated sound: the heavy breath of weary and somnolent men. Someone talks in his sleep, another complains grumpily; the church has become a refuge for those without a bed, those who – struggling to get up from the little soft wooden benches – have decided to share their house with the Lord, preferring that to the street.

Perhaps Wren had wanted his church to be preserved as a precious and untouchable jewel; I wonder if that is really the aim of Architecture and whether spirituality is a value to be searched in aesthetics.

Wren's Church Piccadilly

St James’s Church, Piccadilly, London