The kaleidoscope reminds us of a geometric and harmonious vision, the appearance of shapes characterised by a common weave but able to transform themselves continuously in a sort of chromatic journey. The kaleidoscopic vision awakens a multiform and multicoloured reality, which is, however, able to constantly respect a geometric rigour that gives a sense of constant completeness. The body and its architecture are a unique symbol of harmony, sophistication, aesthetic proportion and at the same time an impressive plastic ability to transform. We physically have something to share with the sometimes psychedelic dimension of the kaleidoscope.
I am writing this article thanks to my collaboration with MM Company, a company specialising in communication that defines itself as creative and pragmatic at the same time. Creativity and pragmatism are easily linked to our body, the most complete example of an entity that can be creative and artistic, but at the same time concrete, effective and pragmatic. The architecture of our physical body is unique and truly extraordinary, but often taken for granted by us and not properly valued. The body is an expression of perfect intelligence and engineering. Long before man created his marvellous works of architecture, there was a far superior structure from which we could take inspiration. So when we look at our body we must have the ability to perceive its architectural grandeur, so that we are fascinated by it. The effectiveness of a structure can be seen in the precision with which all the elements of the organic whole interact and dialogue in order to guarantee a continuous natural search for homeostasis, the energetic balance of the system. In fact, it is no secret that man, in the construction of everything he has surrounded himself with, has constantly been inspired, more or less consciously, by human nature, in a constant quest to replicate the inexplicable excellence of the biological structures designed by mother nature. The beauty that characterises a balanced human body has something in common with the magnificence of certain architectural structures. The sensation that arises at the sight of an ancient cathedral – proportionate and stable, majestic and elegant, immense but not vulgar – is immediate and powerful. A similar emotion emerges in us when we see balanced and very strong bodies demonstrating their integrity and effectiveness through action. Think of the centenarian Olympic athlete, for example. The concept of beauty we are talking about is not linked to pure appearance, but to the close correlation between geometric rigour and expressive power. The ability to optimally fulfil the function for which a structure has been designed is certainly one of the elements shared by the two realities just mentioned. Beauty and functionality are two strongly interconnected concepts. Just as a building is designed to be strong and remain intact over time, without collapsing in the face of environmental adversity, so the body is meticulously designed, with its perfect engineering structure, to face life and the adversities it presents.
Let’s take a closer look at this often forgotten correspondence between the concepts of beauty and effectiveness. Every day, our physicality is subjected to billions of different stimuli and pushed to react and adapt. The highest challenge of our journey, which is difficult to isolate solely in the visible material realm, is described as the constant search for balance. We could see the architecture of our body precisely as the material image of this continuous physical, chemical and psychic self-regulation that is experienced through the senses and that generates an incessant cycle of destruction-regeneration of tissues, thanks to an intelligent form, capable of evolving and adapting consciously. Wanting to make an imaginative comparison of this constant transformative capacity of our structure, we should imagine a building constructed on the basis of an interweaving of hundreds of different spiral directions. The columns and supporting meshes of this building should be able to move in relation to the wind and the sun, while keeping the inhabitants inside in a state of stillness. What emerges is a futuristic image that is as yet unrealisable for mankind. This model we have described concerns each one of us and has characteristics that we can only guess at and not define rationally and completely.
The architecture of the body in its most powerful and harmonious expressions, but also in its expressions of degeneration and dysfunction, is the representation of a precarious balance with the external environment. Let us think of a very strong body capable of communicating beauty (Michelangelo’s David, for example) and an inflamed and fatigued body, deprived of its basic energy, overloaded by an accumulation of liquids, and let us allow ourselves to be stimulated for a moment by the difference between these two images. In both, and in equal measure, there is an extraordinary intelligence of adaptation to external and internal environmental stimuli, with the difference that in the first case the body-environment relationship is more harmonious and symbiotic. The body of Michelangelo’s David recalls in practical terms a greater ability to live the experience of movement and life effectively, expressing the possibility of performing the actions that man is called upon to carry out in a potentially excellent manner. Let us evoke for a moment the figure of the wrestling athlete from classical Greco-Roman culture, his physical and psychic resilience fully embodying this connection between the beautiful body and the healthy body. We therefore see a unique beauty, perfectly integrated with bio-logical and physio-logical functionality. All this should lead us to reflect on the possibility of moving, training and aiming to improve the human condition without making a clear cut between the parameter of scientifically understood effectiveness, the pragmatic desire to be functional and the parameter of aesthetic beauty. When we train, when we move in space, when we seek better nutrition, we must think about this close correlation between a strong body and an aesthetically beautiful body, between a man who has a profound dialogue with the bio-logical and bio-mechanical laws that govern him and a man who approaches his original anatomical and dynamic function.
Have you ever seen a lion, undamaged by trauma, move awkwardly and unshapely? Have you ever seen a healthy wildcat move in an ungainly and unresponsive manner? The image of the cat is in fact often associated with that of an overweight house pet that, having strayed from its nature, has triggered abnormal adaptation mechanisms that are not exactly in line with the initial genetic design.
It is always very difficult to describe this function-beauty ambivalence in a linear way, but I think we all understand its importance and authenticity. I like to think of the method I use in my profession as an athletic trainer as an attempt to apply this principle in practice. I call it ‘strength therapy’ because its ultimate goal, through a constant healing process, is to return to the coherence of the initial naturalistic design with a simultaneous desire to generate strength, integrity and power. In this framework, the result and the aesthetic performance are not the prefixed motive towards which everything must converge, but rather a natural effect of the practice, which, superimposing itself on the laws of human nature, produces an essential beauty, far from spasmodic manias for perfection or social needs to emulate external models. The instinct to seek health can generate results of beauty and functionality almost automatically.
Let us pause for a moment to look at a structure like the rib cage, its unique ability to accommodate vital organs and interact with them in a constant and sensitive manner. It is a very strong structure but one with extraordinary mobility, described by an extremely complex geometry that constantly adapts to each respiratory act. In each cell of the thoracic cavity is inscribed a biological law geared to the maintenance of life, based on that primary genetic design we mentioned earlier.
From now on we try to experience the body not only as a unique tool with which to conduct our experiences, but also as a unique symbol of intelligence, beauty, natural creativity and inspiration for forms of art and science that can coherently connect to the environments that host us and with which we relate.