104& What is most mysterious is sometimes already known, though but half understood as such. Some of the most mysterious things - the mystic effect of certain forms of gothic architecture, the real essence of the Wagnerism that inspired King Ludwig and so many other Wagnerians from Leopold Weininger to Arthur Symons.
Often the most exciting ideas are those that are not entirely clear.
Laon is more moving than Amiens, because it is still struggling towards a solution, it is still suggestive, rich in possibilities of development.
The mediaeval synthesis at the time Chartres was built. In its time this was a form of enlightenment. Still a doctrine only appealing to the educated, if not just the highly educated classes.


370, AN Whitehead saying that it would not have made much difference to the world if the English had not existed before the time of Shakespeare & said "English gothic is good, but not as good as French gothic”.
English gothic has its characteristic excellence and fascination. The style is sufficiently different from the French to be its own trip. England is notable for its churches.


302 Went to see Pugin exhibition at the V & A. I felt I could understand why he went mad. His gothic ‘correctness’ = slavish imitation of the middle ages. Of course his militant Catholicism repels me strongly If that is where his aesthetic vision leads then I draw back.

308 Think of each stage in the development of gothic. Problems that had to be overcome at each separate stage. Freedom a concept with its contradictions and historical development.

342, Value of studying gothic architecture. Study of aesthetic perfection and that which is short of it. Immense value of this as an exemplar. That we should not really be satisfied with less than perfection, though it is easy to be so. That it is almost a universal habit, such that the existence of genius and masterpieces is questioned.
2 views on Wells cathedral.
Perpendicular as the continuation of rayonnant. So much to learn.

The awkward stretches of residual wall between the head of the Lincoln east window testify to thirteenth century English architects indifference to one the basic premises of Rayoonant design namely that the entire elevations should fit together with the same precision and clarity as tracery itself, where of course there can never be any left over spaces.Christopher Wilson P184 .

Ae 284Whereas in ancient architecture the tendency and pressure from above downwards are represented and exhibited just as well as those from below upwards, in gothic architecture the latter decidedly predominates. From this arises the often observed analogy with the crystal, whose formation also takes place with the overcoming of gravity. Now if we attributed this meaning and fundamental idea to gothic architecture, and thereby tried to set it up as the equally justified antithesis to classic architecture it would have to be remembered that the conflict between rigidity and gravity, so openly and naively displayed by ancient architecture is an actual and true one established in nature. On the other hand the entire subjugation of gravity by rigidity remains a mere pretence, a fiction testified by illusion. Everyone will easily be able to see how the mysterious and hyperphysical character attributed to gothic architecture arises from the fundamental idea here expressed and formed the above mentioned peculiarities of he architecture.” Schopenhauer, World as Will and Idea p418

33& in Canterbury cathedral, especially struck by old tree of Jesse windows, the Virgin’s chapel in the crypt, the Bell Harry tower, the exterior by the cloisters Some of the architecture in the choir, however, the transitional style, seemed neither the one thing nor the other, neither Norman nor gothic, and so, though interesting enough, not fully satisfying.
What connection has the religion of the modern Christian with the mediaeval with whom he feels fellowship?
I see Christianity as like Marxism, essentially a rage of the excluded. While others see it as a line of defence against conformist ideology, I see it as the prototype of conformist ideology.
Gothic architecture and mystical emotion. The blue of the stained glass. Some of the glass removed for the Hayward exhibition. Horrible tendency fostered by that exhibition, to look at Norman art like the Bayeux tapestry, and including some early stained glass, (though not the tree of Jesse) in terms of modern strip cartoons.
What one has felt in gothic cathedrals. Mystical illumination, to call it emotion seems to degrade it, one feels those Victorians did not really understand what they thought they did, that their mystical emotion was mere romantic indulgence, but that we have something like psychedelic understanding, which is not an emotion.
Hitler saw his party rallies and meetings as the modern successor of mediaeval church services.
But what we are after is illumination. The highest and most poetic thought of the day, whatever it is,
That marvelous blue colour of the stained glass, Could Hollywood do better? What we must not do is surrender to thought that is below our best.
Early gothic seem to me to be the most concentrated religious style, the most purely illuminated as it were.
The decorated is also very admirable, not a falling off, but not necessarily an advance. In its way the earliest completely gothic style was perfect.
The decorated simply adorns it.
The perpendicular is the beginning of a rationalistic style. It seems to speak something of secular power. It has an expansionist appearance. Soaring up one feels it could soar higher, or expand outwards.
In a way it prefigures modern architecture though it lacks the modern barbarism, and is wholly admirable. It retains enough of form. It also contains sufficient of the illuminated matter of the earlier style.
Victorian gothic. How can the Victorian be other than a romantic? He felt that the gothic revival was the restoration of a native style after the interruption of pseudo Roman revivalism. But what concept of illumination could he have, despite a few like Hargrave Jennings, Lewis Caroll, Blake?


32, Faustian man. Is it Ruth Benedict who says that Spengler’s Faustian Man is true as far as it goes but expresses the preoccupations of only a small elite? But was it therein gothic? An urge to all comprehensiveness. Think of the spirit of the gothic cathedral,. The hallucinatory paradise.
Geometry. The wide range of interest of western man. The spirit of western man as luciferian. The classical nude versus gothic geometry.
The divergence of interest. Like different drugs.
With the gothic geometry sex can appear something if not base, then trivial. A minor pursuit, an animal pursuit.


173 Whitehead’s remark. Not the way to look at it. Chartres may well be the masterpiece, the earliest gothic may well be the high point of the style, but that does not mean subsequent developments could disappear without great loss. The style developed into different forms of the beautiful, jewels if not as splendid as the star of India, nevertheless sui generis, and uniquely beautiful. Decorated, perpendicular and flamboyant have their own standards of perfection. If we like Beethoven, does that mean we should not bother with Schubert or Liszt?


7, A rational culture, a complete culture, expressing the aristocratic principle and the whole energies of man. This applies to a gothic cathedral. Ideas can then be hierarchically graded, and the real freedom which comes from power and understanding then becomes possible.


233& Returned after holiday, mostly in Rouen.
One may see the message of the gothic cathedrals as foreshadowing the truth of the will to power. Other people may see it as foreshadowing their own favoured truths.
To treat the will to power as a clarification of the myth of the Christian religion, insofar as it is true.
Why put a value upon knowledge? Knowledge puts a limit upon the freedom of the will. Why should one view prevail over any other view that may be thought and taught? Because it makes a claim to superior knowledge. Idea that mysticism expresses a truth. Is its apparent expression of the truth nothing but an emotion it stimulates?

"When he (St Bernard) said that the spectacle of the Cluniac churches reminded him of the old rites of the Jews, he was passing an adverse judgment on the whole Cluniac interpretation of the monastic vocation and of the Christian life, but he also implied a judgment on Cluniac art. The stiff and grandiose Romanesque manner, with its gorgeous, but palpably extraneous ornament, was simply no longer in touch with the spirit of the age." George Henderson Gothic p 72

How can any idea have priority over any immediate mental state? Question of solipsism. An idea informed by knowledge claims priority over all contrary ideas. Knowledge confers lordly privilege.
So can we say that the aim of the gothic cathedrals message is ultimately knowledge, that on this rests its claim to power? Knowledge, the limit on otherwise unlimited will?

Burne Jones early in life was fascinated by the gothic cathedrals of northern France. This was an entirely admirable and worthy interest. And it is not for me to say that he or others like him misunderstood. They responded in a strong emotional way to one of the strongest strains in our civilisation. In the churches and cathedrals of Rouen it is not hard to tell ancient stained glass from nineteenth century imitations. The 19th century stuff is betrayed by the faces on the figures. They have a blandness of expression that is perfectly attuned to 19th century notions of piety. Victorian mediaevalism missed out on the intellectual strength of early gothic. What it expresses through its own art is a sentimental feeling that quite misrepresents the religious feeling of the past.

A key figure was Rossetti. His mind may have been strange and unbalanced, but he did succeed in getting going a new aesthetic ideal with all the problems to which it gave rise.. this was precisely his dream of the middle ages, which we must think of as resting in genuine understanding. Understanding which stimulates a dream… This dream of the middle ages replaces religious experience by a mediaevalising charm. Huge difference between being charmed by pictures from an exotic past and adopting the beliefs that would have made those pictures meaningful…


282 Bath Abbey, such a very late example of the gothic style. Like the mystery gone. The angels on ladders on the western front.

"The only complete rebuilding of a first class monastic church in the late 15th century - Bath Abbey, begun in 1499 - was really as sign of exceptional decadence for it replaced a far larger Romanesque church which had been allowed to fall into serious disrepair." - Christopher Wilson p216

340 Bourges cathedral, which some believe to be even greater that Chartres. Not going for the height, it goes for a different form of unified space. 5 aisles, not transepts.

Au 341 Thinking of gothic cathedrals, one may feel inspired, exhilarated, elated. This architecture and its development may be for me what great music is to others. And great exhilaration has a sexual character.
One does not want new gothic, gothic finished centuries ago but to create a new sort of architecture, classically based perhaps, with nudity in it.

Av 232 England and France in symbiosis. Just as French monarchy arose in resistance to England and English invasion, so culturally English freedom developed as part of a desire to assert cultural independence and follow a slightly different cultural path. Thus early English gothic, Wells, Lincoln. Worcester. A most healthy and valuable spirit of emulation, a good Eris

In esoteric Christianity, things and forms from buildings to literature and historical phenomena, all present an esoteric significance. All are symbols with meanings that go far deeper than what is immediately apparent. When romantically minded writers enthuse about the mystic inspiration behind gothic cathedrals there is something in what they are saying, despite the objections of hard headed scholars. Arguably there is an aesthetic-spiritual sense, which can speak universally and to which the Church in the middle ages was more finely attuned than modern society could possibly be. Our ancestors had an esoteric wisdom just in the sense that they had a particular skill that has been lost. Modern society, in attempting to emulate or to imitate fails miserably. We produce great engineering feats of architecture, but our idea that the functional is the beautiful, degrades the latter, and suggests that beauty can be a matter of arbitrary convention rather than a separate idea which needs to be added.

This balance of high tensions is the classic expression of the western spirit- as final as the temple of the fifth century bc was that of the Greek spirit. Then it was rest and blissful harmony, now it is activity, only just for one moment held in suspense. And it requires concentrated effort to master the contrasts and partake of the balance. Like a Bach fugue, a gothic cathedral demands all our emotional and intellectual powers. Now we find ourselves lost in the mystical ruby and azure glow of translucent stained glass, and now called back to alert attention by the precise course of thin yet adequately strong lines. What is the secret of these vast temples? Is it in their miraculous interiors with vast stone vaults at an immense height, walls all of glass and arcades much too slim and tall to carry them?
- Pevsner:-

Gothic architecture is so superbly confident in its fantasticity that it is almost like an insult hurled at the rest of the world on behalf of the Christian west. What Schopenhauer thought about gothic architecture. “he is prepared to concede to gothic architecture a certain beauty, agreeing that through its essentially vertical soaring structure, its apparent conquest of gravity by rigidity;’ it acquires the ‘mysterious and hyperphysical character’ commonly attributed to it. But for all that it is based finally upon illusion, achieving its effect purely ‘subjectively’ by appealing to our emotions and to certain associations of a historical sort, thus arousing feelings foreign to true art. Furthermore, by employing many devices which are structurally pointless or unnecessary, it can be shown to lack the ‘open’ quality, the honesty characteristic of classical buildings, where we see ‘every part –whether pillar, column arch, entablature, or door, window stair or balcony attain its end in the most direct and simple manner’.”- Patrick Gardiner

As Christianity is an extraordinary religion, so gothic is an extraordinary kind of beauty. Like surrealism when it began there is something aesthetically shocking about it. Surrealism sprang from real and intense experiences but violated normal canons. The same is true of gothic when compared with the architecture of other periods and countries. Although there are some resemblances with Graeco Buddhist art as it developed in Afghanistan. The thirteenth century mystics inspired much gothic architecture. That it deals with higher level a different order of experience it manifests itself as something surreal. So it is militant Christianity proclaiming its superiority. Excited mysticism, not calm Byzantine mysticism.. Nietzsche should have liked it. I can understand why Blake did; it is explosive with high energy.

The building fraternity was a purely Christian community; the First
Crusade raised a great enthusiasm for building Christian Churches, and
brought in large gifts of money for that purpose. Up to 1140 Norman
Architecture held sway, having the "Square" for its unit, its greatest
symbol being the _Gnomon_, representing knowledge; but about that
time, as we have seen, arose from the study of Geometry, the head of
all learning, a Mystical form having the mysterious figure of the
Vesica Piscis, the true Gothic Arch, with the Equilateral Triangle
enclosed as its unit, and symbolising the Trinity in Unity. The
recognition of the import of the Trinity was paramount throughout
those early days; all important documents began with an Invocation of
the _Tres Personae_, or were garnished with symbolic illustrations
thereof; all the old MSS., already referred to, which have come down
to us from that period, invariably commence with "In the name of the
Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost."

It can therefore be readily understood what determined the sudden
change between 1140-1150, resulting in that wonderful accession of
beauty to architectural design which we find in the Gothic. The
incentive had to be a strong one, and of an eminently religious
character, to accomplish the radical change of throwing over so
absolutely the Norman, and commencing to build entirely on what are
called Gothic lines. A careful examination of the proportions of the
structures themselves, and the character of the decorations found in
the finest examples of buildings representing that style, at once
shows us that the incentive was the symbolism attached to the
mysterious figure called the Vesica Piscis, which appears to be not
only the principal feature upon which the whole style rests, but is
also employed, as a symbol of the Divine, wherever we have Gothic
Architecture, either in painted windows or mural decorations. Every
Cathedral has its Vesica Piscis, often of enormous dimensions.
Geometry was synonymous with Masonry, and the very _foundation_
of the Science of Geometry, as expounded by Euclid, was his
_first_ proposition. _Every single problem_ in the whole of his
books necessitates for its construction the use of this one
foundation—namely, "how to form an Equilateral Triangle," and this is
the Mystical form of "the Knowledge of the Square." This triangle,
symbolising the Logos, is therefore not only the _beginning_ of the
Science of Geometry, and therefore of Masonry, the Head of all the
Sciences, but it is by that triangle that all Geometrical forms, and
therefore forms of knowledge, are _made_, and it became the most
mysterious and secret symbol of the Logos, for is it not written by
St. John that "In the beginning was the Logos, and by it were all
things made"; so the Vesica Piscis, the cradle of the Logos, became
the great _secret_ of Masonry, the foundation as we find it upon which
Gothic Architecture was evolved, the means by which its wonderful
plans were laid down, and the most reverenced figure in Religious
Symbolism, as shown by its use in seals, engravings, sculptures,
pictures, &c., throughout the Middle Ages.

Let me make this clearer. The more one examines the typical points in
the Saxon, Norman, and Gothic styles of Architecture, the more clearly
one sees that the Architects of the two former used circles and
squares on their tracing-boards, as units for their proportions, in
drawing up both ground plans and elevations, with here and there
suggestions only of the Equilateral Triangle having been made use of
in some of the smaller details; whereas the Gothic Architects seem to
have used the Vesica Piscis almost entirely. This explains the reason
why true Gothic buildings have always been said to be built mainly on
the basis of the Equilateral Triangle; this naturally follows, because
the use of the Vesica creates, and therefore necessitates, the
appearance of the Equilateral Triangle in every conceivable situation.
The following quotation is typical of the leading essay writers on
this subject: "The Equilateral Triangle enters largely into, if it
does not entirely control, all mediaeval proportions, particularly in
the ground plans. In Chartres Cathedral the apices of two Equilateral
Triangles (_vide_ frontispiece to these Views), whose common base is
the internal length of the transept, measured through the two western
piers of the intersection, will give the interior length, one apex
extending to the east end of the chevet within the aisles, the other
to the original termination of the Nave westward, and the present
extent of the side aisles in that direction. With slight deviation,
most, if not all, the ground plans of the French Cathedrals are
measurable in this manner, and their choirs may be so measured almost
without exception. Troyes Cathedral is in exact proportion with that
of Chartres, and the choirs of Rheims, Beauvais, St. Ouen at Rouen,
and others are equally so. Bourges Cathedral, which has no transept,
is exactly three Equilateral Triangles in length inside, from the East
end of the outer aisle to the Eastern columns supporting the West
Towers. Most English Cathedrals appear to have been constructed in
their original plans upon similar rules." White's Classical Essay on
Architecture compares the Norman with the Gothic, where he says: "In
what is usually called the Norman period, the general proportions and
outlines of the Churches are reducible to certain rules of setting out
by the plain Square. As Architecture progressed the Square gradually
disappeared, and the proportion of general outline, as well as of
detail, fell in more and more with applications of the Equilateral
Triangle, till the art, having arrived at its culminating point, or
that which is generally acknowledged to be its period of greatest
beauty and perfection in the thirteenth and the beginning of the
fourteenth centuries, again began to decline. With this decline the
Equilateral Triangle was almost lost sight of, and then a mode of
setting out work by diagonal squares was taken up, for such is the
basis found exactly applicable to the work of the fifteenth century,
since which time mathematical proportions have been generally
employed." And after referring to numerous scale drawings of Churches,
windows, doors, and arches, he points out that every student of Church
architecture must pronounce those of the untraceried and traceried
first point to be the most beautiful of all, those of the Norman to be
a degree less so, and those of the perpendicular and debased to be far
inferior to either, and in that analysis we find that the Equilateral
Triangle was used almost exclusively for determining one order (the
Gothic), the Square for another (the Norman), and the Square
diagonally divided for the other (the debased).

Now let me try to describe the wonderful properties of the Vesica
Piscis, so that you may understand the mystery which shrouded it in
the minds of those Mediaeval builders. The rectangle formed by the
length and breadth of this figure, in the simplest form, has several
extraordinary properties; it may be cut into three equal parts by
straight lines parallel to the shorter side, and these parts will all
be precisely and geometrically similar to each other and to the whole
figure,strangely applicable to the symbolism attached at that time
to the Trinity in Unity,
and the subdivision may be proceeded with
indefinitely without making any change in form. However often the
operation is performed, the parts remain identical with the original
figure, having all its extraordinary properties, the Equilateral
Triangle appearing everywhere, whereas no other rectangle can have
this curious property.

It may also be cut into four equal parts by straight lines parallel to
its sides, and again each of these parts will be true Vesicas, exactly
similar to each other, and to the whole, and of course the Equilateral
Triangle is again everywhere.

Again, if two out of the tri-subdivisions mentioned above be taken,
the form of these together is exactly similar, geometrically, to half
the original figure, and again the Equilateral Triangle is ubiquitous
on every base line.

Again, the diagonal of the rectangle is exactly double the length of
its shorter side, which characteristic is absolutely _unique_, and
greatly increases its usefulness for plotting out designs; and this
property of course holds good for all the rectangles formed by theoriginal figure and for the other species of subdivision. But perhaps
its most mysterious property (though not of any practical use) to
those who had studied Geometry, and to whom this figure was the symbol
of the Divine Trinity in Unity, so dear to them, was the fact that it
actually put into their hands the means of _trisecting_ the Right

- From Science and the Infinite, by Sidney Klein.

It is a given among art historians that Abbot Suger of St. Denis Abbey, just outside Paris, was a seminal figure for Gothic art and architecture. Most would agree with the late Erwin Panofsky that Suger translated the light metaphysics of Pseudo-Dionysius and Johannes Scotus into the abbey church, and that the church had many imitators all over France.

Pseudo-Dionysius was introduced to the West in the 6th Century. Pope St. Martin honored him at the synod of the Lateran, in 649, and his writings came to be venerated as sacred. In the course of time, Pseudo-Dionysius was associated with St. Denis, the founder of the Gallic Church. Sometime between 830 and 835, Abbot Hilduin of St. Denis caused the Vita Dionysii to be written in such a way as to "prove" that St. Denis and St. Dionysius the Areopagite were the same man. It became a crime the equivalent to treason to deny it in France. Dionysius the Areopagite was probably a fifth century Syrian monk whose work is little more than "a superficially Christianized
version of Proclus."
- Lawrence J James

Panofsky:- The light metaphysics of Eriugena looks forward to Grosseeste and Roger Bacon, and further ahead to Ficino. Suger wrote autobiography and poetry. St Denis was Identified with Dionysius the Areopagite. Disagreements with St Bernard and with the austerity of the Cistercians, relations with Henry I of England. His French chauvinism, idea England should be subordinated to France. Short stature. Love of rich ornamentation, gold and precious jewels.

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