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Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Cathedral Comix

I'm intrigued with what modern media fandom shares with popular culture of the past, like religious culture as expressed by regular folks (not professionals, like theologians). 
Not that popular religion is all in the past, not at all! [1] 
But it has a lot of competition that it didn't used to have.

Umberto Eco called medieval cathedrals "a sort of permanent and unchangeable TV program." [2]
I might say that makes them a comic book, not a TV, or, since that might sound insulting to some people, a graphic novel in stone.


Like this action image, below:
An angel wakes one of the three magi, pointing to the Christmas star over Bethlehem, on the cathedral at Autun, France, by 12th century sculptor Gislebertus ["like Thelonious Monk with a chisel", says Russell Hoban]. Look at how the angel gently touches the magi's finger, who wakes up while the others stay asleep. 
"Hey," I can hear the angel whisper. "Hey. Look."
image via Science Musings
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[1]  Example of contemporary popular expression of faith, from the NYT, February 5, 2016,
"In Rome, a Grand Welcome for 2 Long-Deceased Saints":
Pope Francis has always championed the ways that some Catholics, including large numbers of poor people, sometimes express their Catholic faith through “popular devotions.” And venerating relics — objects or even bone fragments believed to come from saints — is deeply ingrained in Catholic tradition.


But there is an undeniable showbiz quality to their arrival in Rome. The two saints were Capuchin friars who died in the 20th century, but it is Padre Pio who is still a major Catholic rock star, with a global following that has grown since his death in 1968. Earlier in the week, Italian news channels dispatched reporters to southern Italy, where Padre Pio’s remains are kept inside a modern sanctuary, so that they could broadcast live shots as the corpse began its journey toward Rome.
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[2] Umberto Eco quote found on BLDGBLOG ["building blog"] post:
 "A Medieval Cathedral Was a Sort of Permanent and Unchangeable TV Program"
"I’ve always loved Umberto Eco’s observation, from a text he delivered for the opening of the Bibliotheca Alexandrina [3] back in 2003, that 'a medieval cathedral was a sort of permanent and unchangeable TV program that was supposed to tell people everything indispensable for their everyday life, as well as for their eternal salvation.'

"The carved statuary, the stone ornament, the careful placement of scenes: it was all part of an edited visual narrative that you could return to again and again, like a 3-dimensional comic book or a collection of film stills in the center of your city, a body of symbolic storylines and characters given architectural form."
"At the time of these cathedrals’ construction, Eco explained, 'manuscripts were reserved to a restricted elite of literate persons, and the only thing to teach the masses about the stories of the Bible, the life of Christ and of the Saints, the moral principles, even the deeds of national history or the most elementary notions of geography and natural sciences (the nature of unknown peoples and the virtues of herbs or stones), was provided by the images of a cathedral.'Then, the sentence I quote above: 
'A medieval cathedral was a sort of permanent and unchangeable TV program that was supposed to tell people everything indispensable for their everyday life, as well as for their eternal salvation.'
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[3] Side note, re Library of Alexandria:
 NPR article about how demonstrators spontaneously formed a human cordon to protect the Library of Alexandria during political unrest in Egypt in 2011.

The head of the library said, 
"What happened was pure magic. People from within the demonstrations broke out of the demonstrations and simply linked hands, and they said 'This is our library. Don't touch it.'"

Photo from Assoc. of Science-Technology Centers

2 comments:

Bink said...

Is there a way to add a picture to the reply? I just sent another naked wise men image.

Frex said...

Aw, sorry---no way to post an image in the comments, but you can add a link!