by José Leitão | this piece originally appeared on the Letters page of Communion and Liberation.

Our journey begins in Portsmouth, Rhode Island. It’s the last week of June. As we step outside, we are greeted by the beautiful green grass. The sun is blazing, and the humidity sticks to our skin. The gentle waves in the sea not far away now ebb and flow with an irresistible charm as we walk down to the shore. We skip stones and slowly tiptoe for a dive in the cold Atlantic Ocean. Eventually, what started as a relaxing swim ends up as an improvised but fierce water polo match. Now refreshed, and after a quick shower, we get back together and sit down facing each other. We pull out our notebooks and our assigned reading for that afternoon: Chapter 6 of Augusto del Noce’s Crisis of Modernity, “Toward a New Totalitarianism.” For a little more than a week at this point, our days have been spent in this unique dichotomy: the intense intellectual discussions go hand in hand with time reserved for shared leisure, or otium. This is the Scala Foundation’s third annual Summer Seminar: “Rediscovering Integral Humanism.”

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José Leitão, a participant of the 2019 Scala Summer Seminar, graduated from Universidade de Lisboa with a B.A. in Biology and is finishing an M.A. in Evolution and Developmental Biology.