Monday, January 27, 2014

A Light from the Dark Ages

The rose window on the north side of Chartres Cathedral
Living in the U.S. and France during the mid-1960s provided a numinous cultural contrast for producer, director, actor and author John Houseman.
On the Eure River in the Loire Valley, this utterly secular world traveler discovered genius loci.
Chartres Cathedral by night
“Driving to the office through Westwood in my rented Chevy, between the pretentious new office buildings that were rising above the movie theatres, gas stations and short-order restaurants, I found myself comparing my sensations with those I had experienced only a few days earlier, during a final, long-promised family excursion we had made in the Thunderbird to the Cathedral of Chartres,” Houseman wrote.
“My own reaction (that of an aging man with an underdeveloped visual sense and no religious feelings whatsoever) was one of utter amazement and wonder at this incredible achievement of the human spirit: the miracle that men, living more than eight centuries ago in a dark age of violence, deprivation and sudden death, inspired by beliefs that I considered puerile and myths that I found incredible, should have created monuments of such soaring and sublime audacity and magnificence that they made our most ambitious structures look like the work of desperate earthbound megalomaniacs!”
Source: “Final Dress” by John Houseman

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