There’s nothing quite like a medieval Gothic cathedral. If the ancient Greco-Roman temple is the embodiment of imperishability, then the Gothic basilica is the epitome of ductility. Gothic stones are not known to defy millenia or have the final say, but they are known to challenge the very matter they are made of, leaping upwards in quasi metaphysical flights, channelling the light into a vision of heaven and earth that is quite unlike anything else built by the human hand, before or since.
But most of all, the Gothic churches that began to mushroom all over Europe in the late 12th century are extraordinary feats of structure. It is impressive that so much was achieved with so little preparation, most Gothic churches having been exercises in trial and error.
Survival of the fittest stone. The churches we see today are, to risk tautology, the ones which have stood the test of time. More bluntly put, the ones which haven’t collapsed. And the ones still standing stand tall and tell the story of theology made flesh, light captured in instances of eternity, the quiddity of the structural-rational universe contemplated in a rose window or a blind-arched wall. A Gothic church is more an instant out of time than a point in space.
The Gothic didn’t know gravity. The Gothic violated the law of gravity. According to medieval logic, all things must rise, all things must love their matter and body so much as to be willing to tear them off in the upward surge towards the circling heavens.
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