You can’t even imagine how much I love medieval art and architecture. Those wooden Jesus figures, sorrowful iconography, architecture drenched with unregulated sweat, the memories of rationalized crusades in the floor stones. I love it like I love everything morbid. I also lived in Paris for a few years and have wonderful memories of Notre-Dame (although I always favored Saint Chapelle more). That said, I would prefer that all the medieval monuments in the world burned to the ground if that would mean that we can have no more people dying in Yemen, Mozambique, Syria, DR Congo, Venezuela, the occupied territories, and everywhere else. I would also gladly exchange these structures for a normalized climate situation and for an end to all intolerance.
After all, structures built in religious fervor are offerings to god, and what more effective way to sacrifice than by fire? I keep seeing so many people care more about Notre Dame than the massacres in Christchurch, I keep seeing people blame the social upheaval, migrants and Muslims in an incident that has been linked to a restoration mishap. Buildings, art, all the heritage are just things. We can hold them in the collective memory and love them just as much as if they were right there. It’s hard to reconcile that one’s Western heritage goes the way of Palmyra but that’s just the thing with art: there’s no true ownership to it. You can appreciate, marvel at, admire, but not possess or be able to touch even. And that’s absolutely fine. So cheer up. Those who we should be hugging are fellow humans.
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