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Narrative-Based Nature of Heritage: Between Myth and Discourses: Case of Šiluva Place-Making in Progress

Kastytis Rudokas
1 and
Silvija Čižaitė-Rudokienė
Institute of Architecture and Construction, Kaunas University of Technology, LT-44405 Kaunas, Lithuania
Faculty of Catholic Theology, Vytautas Magnus University, LT-44260 Kaunas, Lithuania
Siluva Pilgrim Centre, LT-60433 Šiluva, Lithuania
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Land 2022, 11(1), 47;
Submission received: 21 October 2021 / Revised: 22 December 2021 / Accepted: 23 December 2021 / Published: 29 December 2021


The article focuses on the phenomenon of myth, which cannot be seen and may not even exist based on empirical evidence, although it can function as a long-lasting wave inceptor, as demonstrated in numerous cases in history. The singular presence of myth has no linear time, and the way to approach the concealed mythic meaning that is beyond tales, oral traditions or ritual practices is based on language and narrative. Narrative is how myth manifests itself in the temporal layers of discourse through collective decision-making processes within cultures and in places. The urban cultural heritage seems to be a promising source of understanding of what sort of narrative history has been telling. We emphasize that the closest possible approach to the permanence of myth lies in this subtle between-epoch or between-generational moment wherein the discourse alters. The hermeneutics of repetition within alteration processes is what could be called the narrative of cultural heritage in towns and cities. Development of the physical heritage properties has been touched by a variety of agents, and therefore it must have gathered a nearly unlimited amount of explicit and implicit knowledge. The research further demonstrates how the myth–narrative–discourse interaction affects our understanding of the authenticity of heritage objects, shifting towards a permanent pervading authenticity which could be intensive or extensive in the tangible realm. The case of Šiluva is discussed in order to explain how myth can be used practically in placemaking.

1. Introduction

Facing the impacts of climate change and its consequences, not to mention the various impacts of COVID-19 on lifestyles in contemporary and future societies, we need to introduce new ways to preserve the main virtues of humanism par excellence. However, we are also required to change not only in order to make our lives more ecologically resilient but also to become more convivial with all possible surroundings.
Indeed, many authors have claimed that urban entities are living organisms that tell stories [1,2]. We suggest that living is not enough in this case, and that urban entities need to become conscious. For this reason, we introduce theoretical suggestions for stepping forward towards a state of swarm intelligence within and outside the city and the story it provides. Some authors have offered the idea that the 21st century is very suitable not only for the pure technological advancement that leads to an increase in comfort and human productivity but also for addressing the need to catalyze what S. Fuller [3] describes as the conscious evolution of humanity as a species that could be achieved by imposing internal management distribution in order to achieve self-organization [4,5,6]. We claim that the possibility of self-organization does not need to be invented, since it is already inherited. We state that the cultural heritage field, introduced in the light of a narrative-based approach, may give clues on how to use the resources of past events and urbanscapes as the language guiding mankind towards the development of swarm intelligence for future needs.
The event horizon for such an advancement can be seen as a point of singularity that might be technology-based [7,8] or a so-called spirituality-based singularity that integrates human beings, mankind, and the surroundings (biological or cosmic) into one entity of being [9,10,11]. Regarding the future, in 1969 theologians of hope and revolution [12,13] introduced a dialectic between a futurum that is based on the extrapolation of experiences and an adventus dimension which emphasizes eschatological knowledge a priori.
The claim of eschatology not only touches religious concerns, but rather presupposes that qualitative change needs to be transfiguration-like instead of being transformation-like. A kind of meta-reality is needed for this, since it is only possible to transfigure when, at least in the sense of perception, there is a meta-realm to which one could pursue.
In the context of this wider problem, we seek to introduce myth as a possible meta-reality, which is singular to our reality’s point of view and constitutes a long-term cultural continuum throughout, governing the patterns of narrative to form distinct discourses that occur in that cultural continuum.
Claiming that a cultural continuum has a logic that is different from the logic of discourses or epochs, we introduce narrative as an intermediary phenomenon that binds all the differences occurring in cultural space–time into one logically perceived tale. However, narrative is not myth; it is rather an emanation/radiance of myth’s substance.
Relying on P. Riciouer’s [14] and R. Kosseleck’s [15] perception of narrative as a meta-historic entity, which can act both retroactively and prospectively, we suggest the concept of the pervading and transferable authenticity of cultural artefacts and the events causing the occurrence of those artefacts.
We emphasize the relativity of priority or posteriority in the field of heritage and how authenticity could be transferred from one object to the “newer” object.
The paper may contribute to widening the academic debates on past–future connections and the holistic understanding of the environment for creating a brighter future using the deep experience of the inherited past. This paper is intended to scan horizons rather than to suggest practical solutions for practical issues. In the last part of the paper, the case of Šiluva, a small town in Lithuania, is presented as a place-making strategy using a myth–narrative–discourse triadic perception.

2. Myth and Cultural Heritage

2.1. The Notion of Myth

Since antiquity, myths have been perceived as transcendent entities that constantly pervade physical life. The fourth-century Latin writer Sallustius stated that: “There is benefit from myths that we have to search and do not have our minds idle <…> now these things never happened, but always are” [16]. Concealment of the presence of myth has been a source of inspiration for many great scholars, inventors, artists and businessmen and their findings. For example, the search for divine reality and the pursuit of the image of the Heavenly Jerusalem had actually been formulated into the practice of confidence between people and among societies. This helped Europe later to open its very first stock exchange markets and to sustain its cultural and scientific backgrounds. Therefore, the myth, which cannot be seen and by empirical argument may not even exist, possesses the function of a long-lasting wave inceptor.
Leibniz, by trying to prove the existence of an ens perfectisimum being, or God himself, claimed that an infinite being must be separate from our corporeal world but at the same time must underlie and predetermine our presence, actions, and behaviour. Unlike G. Leibniz, B. Spinoza claimed that the infinite being, or God himself, must be directly touching the corporeal world, and that our corporeal reality must be a part of the ens perfectisimum’s radiance. However, both authors agree that meta-reality/myth/God must be panentheistic towards the corporeal world.
Thus, being capax Dei, every individual must be able to ascend to the higher layers of reality, or to the myth reality, by using his intuition merged with cognitive knowledge. To B. Spinoza, intuition was knowledge of the highest degree since it required both cognitive skills deriving from the mind and a priori reasoning that comes from the spiritual capabilities of the individual or from a meta-reality [17,18]. Jewish sages in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance suggested that reality might not be a positive act of creation. Rather, it might happen that God Himself restricted His divinity to make space for the material reality we live in. The concept is called Tzimtzum1.
Twentieth-century thinkers, such as C.G. Jung made the myth look more explicit. For C.G. Jung [19], most human behaviour patterns within a particular culture might have already been decided by the nature of man and been imprinted by the shared culture itself. Others, for example F. Weinreb [20] or C. Levi-Strauss [21], emphasized ritual and religious practices as a mediator for the mythic realm that is stable with regard to the present discourse. Contemporary scholars in the field of memory agree that the collective memory could be so profoundly deep that it could be transferable to humans that do not possess that kind of memory from their own experience [22]. Since the collective memory contains hidden meanings and can only be experienced implicitly, it is of the mythical realm rather than a purely discourse entity.
According to J. Nescolarde-Selva et al. [23], the myth is a collective act of the teller and the audience. Based on P. Riciour [24] and St. Augustine [25], it can be stated that the singular presence of myth has no linear time or even differences in temporal dimension. Not so much the myth itself, but the way of approaching the concealed mythic meaning that is beyond tales, oral traditions, or ritual practices, is still based on language and narrative. St. Augustine’s psalm analysis analogy allows the presumption not only of the unity of time and space, since the tune is unique, but its sounds and every unit of space-time differ one from another, but also the relativity of human creative power.
All these approaches from different backgrounds insist that: (a) there is a meta-reality/myth present; (b) if this is so, it might interact with corporeality; (c) if it interacts, it can be achieved/ascended to.
Within the frame of this discussion, the question can be asked: what if the discourses of the Zeitgeist of one generation or cultural epoch are only one sound of the tune that we cannot really grasp consciously? What if we live in a separate sound that is being played to tune into the harmonious melody of eternity?

2.2. Epochal Action within Myth

Myths are of stable substance since they are singular and universal in terms of space–time. For example, the concept of space–time unity or singularity can be viewed as meta-reality or myth with respect to the space–time continuum, since singularity is absolute from the point of view of the continuum. For the German historian R. Kosseleck, the myth, or what has derived from it, is a meta-historic event that occurs in the continuum between the space of experience and the horizon of expectations. The act of imagination and the perception of both these ends could alter the course of the future, although it is very likely that some events might have been predestined to occur. Thus, it seems that the myth limits our capacities for free will.
Based on N. Kondratiev’s [26] long economic waves theoretical structure, P. Mason [27] has demonstrated how economic cycles can predetermine themselves for hundreds of years by imprinting patterns on the self-regulation of societies and can act with some relative degree of independence from humans, events, or other agents. In this context, the free will of men with respect to myth reality can be perceived as self-determination to act, although the action takes place in a given situation with its restrictions on decision-making, which may alter possible outcomes or the consequences that derive from the decision-making process [28]. Hence, the discourse of the past provides us with the possibility of experiencing the spectrum of consequences we are potentially going to cope with as a result of the decision we are about to make.
The physicist J. A. Wheeler [29] suggested that we are impacted by the long-term past and then we impact the long-term future, and that all this space–time continuum might be anthropic and therefore purposeful, consisting of bits of information that are constant at their lowest scale. Myth, as a structure, is also constant in the sense that even if it originates from the interactions among the members of humanity and although these relations include many long-range predeterminations, we might behave within the limitations of cultural boundaries. For example, we only hear arguments coming from the past, and in order to act we transmit the genotype of the situation into the future by our action performed under the influence of the past.
Moreover, H. Gadamer [30] implies that human consciousness is historically affected. Therefore, what may possibly be optional is the depth of corporeal existence with respect to the mythic presence. However, relying on J. A. Wheeler’s and H. Gadamer’s sets of hypotheses, the meta-reality may restrict the degree of freedom of individual conscious choices, but despite that it may provide humanity with super-organism-like features.
Hence, even if myths are stable and absolute since they are at the meta-level of the realities they govern, we can alter our understanding of myths and thus create more successful discourses of our own discourse realities. This happens via narrative but not only by listening to the story of inter-epochal changes. It happens via an externalist approach when one tells a story while simultaneously listening how one is telling that story and instantaneously interpreting the narrative that is being told.
The Lithuanian linguist and cultural philosopher N. Vėlius emphasized the importance of ethnic myths; as they reflect and nurture smaller nations and as they are interwoven with the everyday life of participators in that particular culture, they support every aspect of the social configuration of that particular society.
N. Vėlius also suggested that the degree of understanding of mythology par excellence presupposes a degree of success in every aspect of human activity: economy, social cohesion, and scientific and technological advancement. Understanding myth means the community’s or even mankind’s ability to explicitly understand what is originally tacit. Contrary to a technology-based integrity of subjects and objects [31], there is a spirituality-based substance of knowledge to seek of summum bonum on Earth [32]. Therefore, the myth dimension becomes a meta-actor that includes every aspect of corporeality and could serve as a source of know-how. However, this is so due to the ability to consciously merge with myth.
Therefore, the narrative we tell by everyday actions that are always unique and uncertain needs to be coupled with the stable substance of myth. Urban heritage here seems to be a promising source of understanding of what sort of narrative history has been telling and what sounds are used to fit in with, and what sounds suppress, the melody of the tune (based on St. Augustine’s psalm analogy), thus constraining the understanding of narrative. A. Rossi [33] suggested that the most profound content of urban heritage is the nature of inter-temporality. We can emphasize that the closest possible approach to the permanence of the myth realm is that subtle between-epoch or between-generational momentum where the discourse alters. The hermeneutics of repetition within alteration processes is what could be called the narrative of cultural heritage in towns and cities. Development of the physical heritage properties has been touched by a variety of agents; therefore, it must have gathered a nearly unlimited amount of explicit and implicit knowledge.

3. Narrative of Urban and Architectural Heritage

Narrative is the way that myth manifests itself in the temporal layers of discourse through the collective decision-making process within cultures and in places. Thus, narratives give shape to architecture by imposing both epochal and everyday-life decision-making. N. Walter [34] provided a comprehensive description of a narrative-based approach to both architectural heritage conservation practices and its general theory. Based on M. Heidegger’s Dasein ontology, N. Walter demonstrates the need for heritage value to be extended by actively affecting the property: either its physical matter or its substantive charge. The orthodox manner of conservation and the freezing in time of the property of cultural heritage therefore must be contradicting the nature of every heritage object itself. That nature would be to provide the information for deep knowledge for both the understanding of the past and for future-making. To be more radical on this point, there is nothing wrong with the decay of a heritage object if the decay serves as a deep-knowledge provider of overall narrative perception and co-creation.
C. Holtorf [35] pointed out that the vanishing of objects in nature and in culture is inevitable. Nor must the decline be prevented since it is natural. The only question that occurs here is that of what is permanent in terms of urban becoming, and how can heritage layers provide us with a guideline for future foresight.
The initial purpose of heritage is to give a clue to how to extend the urban narration into the future. In this sense, I. Russell [36] suggested that we need to nurture the cause of object creation, not only the objects themselves. Hence, the value of heritage property is not inherently present in its cultural, artistic, or temporal historic significance, as these are only the causal qualities. The value of heritage property is present in its universality, encompassing several temporal layers and being identified as common to as many cultures as possible, thus becoming the language of the narrative of particular places or cultures in these places.
In this light, B. Hillier [37] has provided a framework presenting how architecture displays the myth (that acts as the initial genotype) in its very deep perception. He draws a hermeneutic comparison between the spatial organization of a Mongol yurt and a Christian shrine. He proved how the layout of the Mongol yurt, with no interior partitions, represents the microcosmic structure of the mythic world. Yurts are elementary buildings whose “structure appears not because of an inherited tradition, but because of structural necessity” [38] and this means that the elementary form of dwelling derives from the universal form of rituals performed in that culture.
For comparison, B. Hillier gives the example of the church or shrine layout that divides the interior space by elaborating functional differences. The altar, located in the deepest spatial point of the interior, according to B. Hillier, categorizes and classifies the values and behaviour of society and also assigns spaces for them. By being the most sacred, the altar implies that the nave space is not so sacred, while the outside of the church is purely profane. In contrast, the yurt is all in one.
According to the model of the mythic realm presented in this research, it appears that the development of the church must be nothing more than the radiance of meaning into cultural space–time from a singularity, as the evolution of the elementary holistic space of the Mongol yurt, which is all in one; a dwelling, social and religious space compressed into one spatial unit that is absolute to its inhabitant. However, by the constitution of linearity and therefore the scattering of the cultural charge that was suppressed in the yurt, the church provides an authentic understanding of the yurt‘ singularity-like phenomenon.
Indeed, if the yurt is 0 and the church is 1, then myth is to be a superposition of both, while narrative is the observer’s choice to detect the state of any urban/cultural object between the two.
Later, B. Hillier describes how the specific functional types of buildings such as hospitals, shrines or schools could have developed out of elementary building and possess no impositions of control. However, other types of buildings such as factories or prisons are reversed elementary buildings with a deep imposition of social control. Therefore, the narrative that is being told by humanity consists of spatial language as a musical tune that sometimes draws us closer to the initial genotype and sometimes draws us back from it. Therefore, architectural language, due to its inter-temporal nature, serves as an immediate narrative, a meta-language of a continuum of events in the cultural life of human beings.

4. Narrative Implications for Authenticity

4.1. Pervasiveness of Authenticity

The authenticity of the physical state of property or the appearance of the set of properties might be crucial for heritage, as a phenomenon to carry the narrative from the mythic meta-reality to our lived corporeal discourses. The physical attributes of properties, especially in case of between-generational relations, where different temporal layers are reassembled into one logical space by architectural representations, allow light to be shed on the particular town or city as a constantly altering entity which yet remains stable at some degrees of inter-temporal interactions.
Ch. Alexander et al. [39] provided two patterns of urban development that could provide for an understanding authenticity. These are “Holy Ground” and “Sacred Land”. He insisted that the essence of a landmark of the city must be carried into the constantly occurring new properties in that city. Thus, the initial sacred substance (landmark) radiates and pervades the rest of the urban fabric by the transference of its quintessence.
The question can be raised of whether the initial (sacred) object remains authentic when its surroundings are constantly altering. Even if the object remain physically intact it is obvious that its effect on the overall place changes since the place is now different. The historic urban landscape deals partially with the issue by the theoretical and practical attempt to link the tangible—intangible and heritage—not-heritage values of the old architecture and the new architecture within the city. Further, we will provide a deeper theoretical framework to strengthen the potential for integration of the parts into the whole.
Relying on B. Hillier’s notion of the genetic code of the city, we need to introduce the concept of the pervasiveness of authenticity [40], which relies on the tenet that authenticity is neither physical nor stable in form but is rather substance that is either intensive in terms of spatiotemporal distribution or extensive in terms of spatiotemporal distribution, depending on the demand of a particular Zeitgeist.
Assume any architectural object x that exists in the city space. Under a given condition, the object x is 100 percent authentic. As the culture evolves, more objects occur in the space. Therefore, the amount of authenticity is split among them. Object x, as conceptually the first, imposes the law for the future (linear-time) development xy, z, v, w, where every structure, that evolves later (y, z, v, w) has the cultural DNA of x.
The object x is the initial object, although the evolving presence of spatial variables also alters the nature of x. Thus, first, the object x alters in terms of meaning and importance with respect to surroundings, and then later it changes physically. Here, we define the very nature of city authenticity within the myth–narrative–discourse frame: x is stable and singular since it is always initial. However, it constantly alters due to the narrative it imposes upon subjects and due to the subjects, who are intuiting the initial message of the prime object and therefore changing the meaning and appearance of x.
Yellow depicts myth presence, blue stands for narrative and activities that derive from narrative. White inside the circle of myth presence depicts discourse realm (Figure 1). As claimed previously by introducing Tzimtzum concept,, the lack of myth, partially, could be expressed as discourse. However, since myth is the substance that decides its contraction via narrative, the discourse is more than just absence of myth. It depicts the ability to create matter by perceiving myth via narrative. Please also note that myth is not more present in the myth realm than in the discourse or narrative realms. Depiction of, and differences in terms of, size or solidity only show perception levels of myth in any layer.
Moreover, narrative is to be perceived not only by grasping the potential of the initial object x to be present in objects y, z, v, or w, but rather by constituting the set of cultural actions needed for y, z, v, or w to occur, preserving the overall authenticity of city space. Authenticity in the light of myth–narrative–discourse theory is seen as the similarity of object–context interactions in different temporal layers, where x is always equal to y, z, v, w.

4.2. Time Flow

The question regarding the narrative-based approach to the urban environment and its dimension of heritage is whether the prime object x must necessarily be earliest in terms of linear time compared to objects y, z, v, w. M. Heidegger [41] suggested that historic time is not prior to times to come in the context of ontology. P. Ricoeur [42] supplemented this by saying that any sign of narrative is bidirectional and could act even retroactively by reshaping perception of the things and events in past. Therefore, we assume that the priority of property comes not by its age but by the intensiveness of its cultural charge. Time in myth is singular, time in discourse realities is linear, and narrative time is mixed between chronos and Kairos. The x is always prior in Kairos but not necessarily prior in chronos.
The object x generates the sequence y, z, v, w. However, at some point in the continuum property z, for example, could be richer in terms of a holistic approach towards all the surroundings than x itself. Furthermore, the object z can be even more x than the initial x itself. At this point, z acts in both retroactive and prospective ways. By being the acme of the potential of x it (z) supplements and widens the perception and meaning of x and reveals other dimensions of x. However, by being prior to x, it takes over the task of the initial x to give the law for future development, as well as shaping the ways that x is used to govern the evolution of the sequence. Therefore, object z is always at Kairos time since it provides a volume and reason for linear (chronos) time, but it does not diminish x, as either can be at kairos, since x is in z as pervaded authenticity.
It seems that placing the myth reality into the perception of urban authenticity has provided us with a loop-like theoretical frame where anything can happen. The time here does not seem to flow but rather fluctuates. The variables of the sequence of x, y, z, v, w… pervade one another but they all are present in their original form, while simultaneously they are totally similar and unified.
Here, the x is not actually equal to x. We can define x as:
x = (yzvw) − x + x;
Therefore, the myth is simultaneously the most stable and the most unstable. Discourse reality is unstable and uncertain, and the narrative is a way to commute between the two by giving shape to discourse.

4.3. The Case Study of Šiluva

Šiluva is a small town in middle of Lithuania based in Kaunas County. With a population of around only 600 inhabitants, its economy and social life relies strongly on husbandry. It could be defined as an underdeveloped urban entity (Figure 2). Next to husbandry, forestry also forms a significant part of the town’s economy. The name Šiluva derives from the Lithuanian word šilas, which means a pinewood. The history of the township dates to the 15th century when the Lithuanian Grand Duke Vytautas gave the place to one of his subordinates.

4.4. Metaphysical Presence in Šiluva

Even though Šiluva has always been a rural area with a little economic significance, it has always been at the centre of metaphysical presence. As Lithuanian and global Catholics believe, in the year 1608, St. Mary appeared on the stone holding baby Jesus. The Apparition was witnessed and confirmed by several people within a period of time. It is even more unusual that Mary appeared to a Calvinist priest. The Calvinists were taking over Šiluva and nearby boroughs at that time.
Soon after the Apparition, the Catholic church regained its previous influence, and since then the town has been famous for the constant miracles occurring there, where most of these relate to miraculous healing. Along with the painting of the apparition of Our Lady of Šiluva, the place itself is associated with metaphysics.
Even though a mythic background has always been present in Šiluva, only very little of that presence was ever used for place-making and development in terms of urban growth (Figure 3). Moreover, Šiluva cannot compete with Fatima or Sanctuary Our Lady of Lourdes for tourist numbers. However, many pilgrims still come here from Lithuania and neighbouring countries.

4.5. Use of Metaphysics in Place-Making Strategies

In 2018, the Kaunas archdiocese, together with Raseiniai municipality, launched a working group which had the aim of creating a program for the promotion of religious tourism in the county and in Lithuania, making Šiluva the main shrine in Europe.
Wishing to reveal the narrative of Šiluva to locals and to people from other countries, several strategic directions were taken. One was a strategy of communication, another cultural integration as a way of revealing the place identity and creating it in the future and the last direction was a contemporary view of pilgrimage, connecting history and the spiritual and secular worlds together (Figure 4).
While the grand plan for the urban area is still in the phase of political and professional discussion, the soft phase of place-making is being set up.
The entire vision of the future of Šiluva relies on its mythical background (Figure 5).

5. Eschatology as Meta-Aim

Heavenly Jerusalem. Meta Heritage Derived from Monastic Centres of Medieval Europe

To open the narrative about the place’s identity, a communication was created in the form of a book. The aim of the logo (Figure 6) and all forms of branding used was to communicate the main story of the place. This was achieved through the logo, which contains a symbol of the sun. This symbol connects the Lithuanian and Catholic identities. Another component—a compass—shows that all paths are directed to Šiluva. The Chapel of the Apparition of the Virgin Mary (Figure 7 and Figure 8) is a symbol of the place because the other main symbol of the stone on which Mary appears is in this chapel. The final symbol is sunlight, which represents St. Mary as the sun and light, reaching all the people in the world. The fusion of all these symbols in the logo tells the whole myth of Šiluva in one figure. Nevertheless, the motto of the place is also integrated into the logo. “A Living Pilgrimage” is the slogan, which connects past, present and future by its meaning that pilgrimage is an ongoing act (Figure 6).
The narrative that has been selected to connect reality to the existing myth realm is called the living pilgrimage. The term, and the action associated with this term, express pilgrimage, and prayer as a grounding force for living for every individual. The Russian physicist and philosopher Kurashov [43] suggested that the only way to achieve sustainability in the 21st century is to switch to spiritual consumerism. This means that mystic experience and deeper spirituality must replace physical and recreational consumption.
It also correlates with famous concept of living heritage, introduced into academia by I. Poulios [44], which relies on the premise that every activity, even the most profane, must be ritualized. Living pilgrimage builds up an experience of heavenly reality.
The living pilgrimage relies on three key activities. The first is direct pilgrimage—walking to the shrine on several marked paths. The other two activities are more related to revealing the narrative and the open concept of pilgrimage—scientific activity and contemporary art. The former includes research activities in collaboration with Vytautas Magnus university and Kaunas University of Technology.
The whole concept of living pilgrimage relies on the concept of walk’n’contemplate, together with the high-skill activities actually focused on long-term urban development. It is believed and forecasted that due to the need to fight climate change and its consequences, as well as adapting to the artificial-intelligence-based fluid society of the future, the city of the future must be inverted, in order to successfully preserve the whole idea of the city.
In 2020, a Lithuanian scientist published the article where the concept of the inverted urbanism of the future was first introduced. The concept relies on the premise that the future city center would be taken over by non-animate entities such as data centers, autonomous factories, and vertical farming elements. Such activities as office work, creative work and upkeep of autonomous structures could easily be performed just by walking in the so-called forest office areas (the FO-AM) [45]. The acme of an inverted city is perceived as a juxtaposition of a sedentary lifestyle and wandering, and this should provide the initial framework for achieving the hive mind or swarm intelligence in collaboration with AI.
Thus, the whole pattern of the Šiluva strategy derives from myth of the land that is being constantly touched by God, and it heads towards the event-horizon-like meta-reality of the inversion of the city phenomenon and the emergence of swarm intelligence that would make place itself conscious. The concept of inversion of the city has also been based to a great extent on the Revelation to John, depicting the Heavenly Jerusalem. Thus, the idea is not to attract tourists and pilgrims but to establish new time arrows for the future urban and biosocial life of future humanity, where the physical reality must be coupled with mythic reality.

6. Practical Tools and Implementations

Contemporary art defines activities such as the three art biennials (two of fine art and one of theatre) and separate cultural events. Science and art (especially the contemporary art that is often based on the inheritance of structural parts from ritual) comprise the premise for a future that would be bright for small urban places. Both the activities that are evolving more and more in Šiluva are future-oriented.
During the period of 2018–2021, two international conferences were held in Šiluva. It is important to remark that conference and art biennials are not simply held in Šiluva but arise from the concept of the shrine (Figure 9 and Figure 10). That is why the scientific conference in 2021 was orientated towards the shift in paradigms of the contemporary world. The conference theme was “Travel’s paradigm shift in the 21st century: consumers or pilgrims?” As tourism’s objectives are reconsidered, new forms of tourism are being born, for example, “slow tourism”. The phenomena of tourism and pilgrimage are converging. Both in their own way invite travellers to wake from the sleep of routine and examine their life trajectory. In practice, this convergence of goals makes it possible to combine tourism and pilgrimage in new ways. One of the key findings that contribute to the inverted city idea is the blurring of boundaries between travelling and living in a place. Living pilgrimage is seen as a future lifestyle that allows travellers to be inhabitants of the place and contribute to that place not with touristic expenditure but with their skill, and tacit and explicit knowledge.
Art biennials are also orientated towards the concept of Šiluva as such. The first biennial was dedicated to fine art and the ability of an artist to be inspired by Šiluva as a place.
The theatre biennial was dedicated to a famous theatre director from Lithuania: Eimutas Nekrosius, who was born in Šiluva and is now buried in the town cemetery. It was intended to show the importance of heritage and its independence over time. The motto was from the 77th Psalm “Your road led through the sea, your pathway through the mighty waters—a pathway no one knew was there!” (Psalm 77:19). The third art biennial theme was “Touched Land”. In the context of Šiluva, the term “Touched Land” can be understood on several levels. Šiluva is an area of exceptional sacral value, touched by the feet of the Mother of God, tired pilgrims and the Pope. This place is daily passed by local people and preachers.
As we may see, all artistic and scientific activities are orientated towards the pilgrimage concept and its expansion. It should not be forgotten that the narrative of sacred place and its communication to a local and international audience is one of the main place-making concepts which are revealed not only in different communication activities but in place features per se.
The Šiluva case is still in its earliest phase, and it is an ongoing process. However, it is the only case in Lithuania where myth is being used to achieve a bright urban future by thinking of the event horizon.

7. Conclusions

Since the Turing machine, the meta level of reality has been used to solve complex problems. However, the superimposition of myth as meta-reality onto discourse realities has been imprinted on societies since the beginning of cultural mankind. A hermeneutic approach to heritage relies on the premise that reading the world as a language not only provides cognition for the reader but is the main cause of narrative creation and the world itself.
In this article we have re-introduced the myth as a meta-level of the whole of reality in order to understand urbanism as a cultural continuum which is perceived as St. Augustine’s constant present. The result of inquiry suggests that heritage, to contribute to qualitative advancement of the needs of humanity, must be perceived as a narrative, between myth and discourse. This approach suggests that urban entities, as the main caches of the cultural continuum, may become conscious organisms instead of being just organisms.
To perceive a building as an entity that is extended both ways, into the past and into the future, requires changes in the conscious evaluation of a building’s impact. Indeed, the very determination to see every building inside of every building, and moreover to see every building as containing the world itself, suggests that we have achieved the meta-realm.
We have also redefined the authenticity of any cultural heritage property. By applying the myth–narrative–discourse theoretical framework we have found that authenticity dwells in the patterns that define how things remain the same in terms of their meaning within the context but alter in terms of their physical appearance. Thus, there is no difference between a historic object and a contemporary object, since the focus must be concentrated on what every particular object delivers to the cultural space–time.
Šiluva is a special place in Lithuania where mythic content has been applied to the place-making and future-making of that place by trying to go beyond the predominant logic of contemporary discourse. Instead, the place is observed from the far future, and instead of making urban settlement more contemporary in terms of form and function, the approach seeks to perceive how archaic urban structures would fit into the world under event horizons.

Author Contributions

Conceptualization, K.R. and S.Č.-R.; methodology, K.R. and S.Č.-R.; formal analysis, K.R. and S.Č.-R.; investigation, K.R. and S.Č.-R.; resources, K.R. and S.Č.-R.; data curation, K.R. and S.Č.-R.; writing—original draft preparation, K.R. and S.Č.-R.; writing—review and editing, K.R. and S.Č.-R. All authors have read and agreed to the published version of the manuscript.


This research received no external funding.

Informed Consent Statement

Informed consent was obtained from all subjects involved in the study.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.


The concept of Tzimtzum here deserves some additional attention. First off, Tzimtzum possess the feature of quantum superposition. From the viewpoint of humanity the G-d conceals Himself and restrict his action in order to make place for reality. There is why we can feel the presence of the meta-reality but since it is a manifold of many dimensions we always only see just a 3 + 1D view of it. However, from the position of Meta-reality there is no restriction since Tzimtzum has already disappeared due to humanities effort to connect and blend in G-d and meta-reality in other words. The Tzimtzum is and it actually is not present at the same moment.


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Figure 1. Explanation of the basis of myth–narrative–discourse interactions.
Figure 1. Explanation of the basis of myth–narrative–discourse interactions.
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Figure 2. Land use map for future development of Šiluva. Raseiniai district municipality information. Red represents historic secular centre, yellow stands for future development boundaries, violet marks areas where new economic activities could be introduced into the township, and turquoise marks area of preservation concerns. Black line stands for main road crossing the township.
Figure 2. Land use map for future development of Šiluva. Raseiniai district municipality information. Red represents historic secular centre, yellow stands for future development boundaries, violet marks areas where new economic activities could be introduced into the township, and turquoise marks area of preservation concerns. Black line stands for main road crossing the township.
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Figure 3. Present built-up environment around the religious central square.
Figure 3. Present built-up environment around the religious central square.
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Figure 4. Main square of Šiluva during the Holy Mass. Photo by Agnietė Čisler.
Figure 4. Main square of Šiluva during the Holy Mass. Photo by Agnietė Čisler.
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Figure 5. People walking on their knees around the stone upon which Saint Mary appeared in 1608. The stone is surrounded by the walls of the Apparition Chapel. Photo by Leonas Nekrašas.
Figure 5. People walking on their knees around the stone upon which Saint Mary appeared in 1608. The stone is surrounded by the walls of the Apparition Chapel. Photo by Leonas Nekrašas.
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Figure 6. Šiluva A Living Pilgrimage logo.
Figure 6. Šiluva A Living Pilgrimage logo.
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Figure 7. Chapel of the Apparition of Saint Mary in Šiluva. The Chapel, built in 1906 is considered to be architecturally a sign of the early modernism architecture of Lithuania (architect Antanas Vivulskis). Due to financial and political issues, the chapel was completed and consecrated only in 1924. The building managed to grasp timelessness by using traditional architectural forms with futuristic design decisions. Photo by Laima Šiliūnaitė.
Figure 7. Chapel of the Apparition of Saint Mary in Šiluva. The Chapel, built in 1906 is considered to be architecturally a sign of the early modernism architecture of Lithuania (architect Antanas Vivulskis). Due to financial and political issues, the chapel was completed and consecrated only in 1924. The building managed to grasp timelessness by using traditional architectural forms with futuristic design decisions. Photo by Laima Šiliūnaitė.
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Figure 8. A photo of an authentic drawing of the Chapel of the Apparition of Saint Mary. Antanas Vivulskis (Antoni Wiwulski), 1905.
Figure 8. A photo of an authentic drawing of the Chapel of the Apparition of Saint Mary. Antanas Vivulskis (Antoni Wiwulski), 1905.
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Figure 9. Artwork made during the art biennial near the religious center of Šiluva.
Figure 9. Artwork made during the art biennial near the religious center of Šiluva.
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Figure 10. Saint Mary‘s birth basilica [1775] in Šiluva during the theatre biennial. Photo by Sigitas Gudaitis.
Figure 10. Saint Mary‘s birth basilica [1775] in Šiluva during the theatre biennial. Photo by Sigitas Gudaitis.
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Rudokas, K.; Čižaitė-Rudokienė, S. Narrative-Based Nature of Heritage: Between Myth and Discourses: Case of Šiluva Place-Making in Progress. Land 2022, 11, 47.

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Rudokas K, Čižaitė-Rudokienė S. Narrative-Based Nature of Heritage: Between Myth and Discourses: Case of Šiluva Place-Making in Progress. Land. 2022; 11(1):47.

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Rudokas, Kastytis, and Silvija Čižaitė-Rudokienė. 2022. "Narrative-Based Nature of Heritage: Between Myth and Discourses: Case of Šiluva Place-Making in Progress" Land 11, no. 1: 47.

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