For a Christian the Whole World is Exile

This piece takes its title from a fragment of a speech by Pope Urban II at the Council of Claremont in 1095. He was making the case for the first crusade to the Holy Land when he said:

“Christiano totus est mundus exilium…”

I think that this statement sums up a relationship to the physical world that is still fundamental to western culture. In other words, that our experience of all “worldly” things is a passing moment, a “sojourn”, only important in as much as it effects our prospects in the life to come. It is this eternal after-life of the spirit that is our true home, from which we are temporarily exiled here in the physical.

In this piece, as in a number of others, I have used the battleship as an image of the body as a self-contained defensive enclosure. The ship is heavily armored, turned inward on itself for all that it needs, it exists to protect itself from the apparently hostile void in which it finds itself; the ocean. Of course the “desert of the ocean” is an illusion, true only at the surface. Below the surface the ocean is a vibrant and beautiful place full of life and change. The battleship must remain unaware of this, conscious only of its own insignificance and isolation on the huge surface of the waters.