Bookend


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A church without stone.

It seemed important that I finish the book.

I was reading “World Without End” by Ken Follett, a weighty tome of a thousand pages and I’d been working on it for over a week. I thought that is done pretty well with saving the book only for my free time and only reading a chapter or two as a reward for accomplishing other tasks, but evidently I hadn’t done as good of a job as is hoped since the Curmudgeonly Lion commented that he was looking forward to getting his wife back.

At any rate, the book deals with the rebuilding of a cathedral, among other things, and some of the architectural innovations of the fourteenth century when the story is set. In this era before steel beams, all of the cathedral architecture relied on masonry to be structurally sound. I found myself thinking about the architecture of arches in particular while walking on campus near the film school where there are long arcades of Romanesque arches that are purely decorative: the structure that holds the building upright is likely to be a grid of I-beams hidden inside, not a careful arrangement of trimmed stone.

I was still thinking about this as I was driving home when I noticed a new building going up on the far corner of campus: the steel skeleton of a structure already sketching out its final, cathedral like shape against an overcast sky. What would the builders of the middle ages think of such a building? An entire structure nearly fully formed without a single stone being laid? A structure in which nearly any kind of arch or column could be incorporated as a decorative flourish without worry that the walls will fall down if the shape is wrong.

What times we live in.

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~ by Gwydhar Gebien on June 9, 2015.

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