The striking similarity between the real life experiences of Maria, the singing nun, for whom the hills were alive, and Micheu, the author of a book that was banned by Rome for 200 years, is entirely implausible.
However, Fideism was Micheu’s version of Maria’s Catholicism. God is not cast out by science or reason, but revered on another plane. Maria’s lonely goatherd would have been in agreement with Micheu about the similarities between animals and humans. Consciousness is not confined to people, dogs dream, chimpanzees have idle thoughts.
Such notions enraged Pascal and Descartes, whose philosophy describes animals as mere machines. The real frustration, expressed by the song 16 going on 17, is that Micheu was a free thinker, or libertin, who adopted a form of skepticism that suspended judgement about practically everything in order to create a state of mental imperturbability.
Such innovative thinking was lauded in the 16th century, but fell out of favour in the 17th. Maybe it’s time we had another look at Micheu and his book of essays. Can it really be so dangerous to read ideas freely expressed without trying to suggest that they hold some fundamental or essential truth? Maria loved music and it became a way of life for her new family in the new world. Micheu loved writing and thinking. His vision helped to free other thinkers and sparked enlightened philosophy, creating lands that are free (as long as there are brave people to safeguard those freedoms).
Maria echoes Micheu’s self reflection –
I have confidence in sunshine
I have confidence in rain
I have confidence that spring will come again
Besides which you see I have confidence in me