The term Gothic was first used during the later Renaissance, and as a term of contempt. Says Vasari: Then arose new architects who after the manner of their barbarous nations erected buildings in that style which we call Gothic, while Evelyn but expresses the mental attitude of his own time when he writes: The ancient Greek and Roman architecture answered all the perfections required in a faultless and accomplished building -- but the Goths and Vandals destroyed these and introduced in their stead a certain fantastical and licentious manner of building: congestions of heavy, dark, melancholy, monkish piles, without any just proportion, use or beauty. For the first time, an attempt was made to destroy an instinctive and, so far as Europe was concerned, an almost universal form of art, and to substitute in its place another built up by artificial rules and premeditated theories; it was necessary, therefore, that the ground should be cleared of a once luxuriant growth that still showed signs of vitality, and to effect this the schools of Vignola, Palladio, and Wren were compelled to throw scorn on the art they were determined to discredit. As ignorant of the true habitat of the style as they were of its nature, the Italians of the Renaissance called it the maniera Tedesca, and since to them the word Goth implied the perfection of barbarism, it is but natural that they should have applied it to a style they desired to destroy. The style ceased, for the particular type of civilization it expressed had come to an end; but the name remained, and when, early in the nineteenth century, the beginnings of a new epoch brought new apologists, the old title was taken over as the only one available, and since then constant efforts have been made to define it more exactly, to give it a new significance, or to substitute in its place a term more expressive of the idea to be conveyed....
Gothic architecture and Gothic art are the aesthetic expression of that epoch of European history when paganism had been extinguished, the traditions of classical civilization destroyed, the hordes of barbarian invaders beaten back, or Christianized and assimilated; and when the Catholic Church had established itself not only as the sole spiritual power, supreme and almost unquestioned in authority, but also as the arbiter of the destinies of sovereigns and of peoples. During the first five centuries of the Christian Era the Church had been fighting for life, first against a dying imperialism, then against barbarian invasions. The removal of the temporal authority to Constantinople had continued the traditions of civilization where Greek, Roman, and Asiatic elements were fused in a curious alembic one result of which was an architectural style that later, and modified by many peoples, was to serve as the foundation-stone of the Catholic architecture of the West. Here, in the meantime, the condition had become one of complete chaos, but the end of the Dark Ages was at hand, and during the entire period of the sixth century events were occurring which could only have issue in the redemption of the West. The part played in the development of this new civilization by the Order of St. Benedict and by Pope St. Gregory the Great cannot be over estimated: through the former the Catholic Faith became a more living and personal attribute of the people, and began as well to force its way across the frontiers of barbarism, while by its means the long-lost ideals of law and order were in a measure re-established. As for St. Gregory the Great, he may almost be considered the foundation-stone of the new epoch. The redemption of Europe was completed during the four centuries following his death, and largely at the hands of the monks of Cluny and Pope St. Gregory VII, who freed the Church from secular dominion. With the twelfth century were to come the Cistercian reformation, the revivifying and purification of the episcopate and the secular clergy by the canons regular, the development of the great schools founded in the preceding century, the communes, the military orders, and the Crusades; while the thirteenth century, with the aid of Pope Innocent III, Philip Augustus, St. Louis, and the Franciscans and Dominicans, was to raise to the highest point of achievement the spiritual and material potentialities developed in the immediate past.
This is the epoch of Gothic architecture. As we analyse the agencies that together were to make possible a civilization that could blossom only in some pre-eminent art, we find that they fall into certain definite categories. Ethnically the northern blood of the Lombards, Franks, and Norsemen was to furnish the physical vitality of the new epoch. Politically the Holy Roman Empire, the Capetian sovereigns of the Franks, and the Dukes of Normandy were to restore that sense of nationality without which creative civilization is impossible, while the papacy, working through the irresistible influence of the monastic orders gave the underlying impulse. Normandy in the eleventh century was simply Cluny in action, and during this period the structural elements in Gothic architecture were brought into being. The twelfth century was that of the Cistercians, Carthusians, and Augustinians, the former infusing into all Europe a religious enthusiasm that clamoured for artistic expression, while by their antagonism to the over-rich art of the elder Benedictines, they turned attention from decoration to plan and form, and construction. The Cluniac and the Cistercian reforms through their own members and the other orders which they brought into being were the mobile and efficient arm of a reforming papacy, and from the day on which St. Benedict promulgated his rule, they became a visible manifestation of law and order. With the thirteenth century, the episcopate and the secular clergy joined in the labour of adequately expressing a united and unquestioned religious faith, and we may say, therefore, that the civilization of the Middle Ages was what the Catholic Faith organized and invincible had made it. We may, therefore, with good reason, substitute for the undescriptive title Gothic the name the Catholic Style as being exact and reasonably inclusive.
Nietzsche said, I am afraid we are not rid of God because we still have faith in grammar. If only Nietzsche had lived long enough to see the 1970's and the new education he would have rejoiced at the final triumph of the human will over God...
The Restoration is not only a matter of politics, or even education qua education. It is an essential re-construction of ruined thought. Imagine Western Civilization not as a set of... precious cultural artifacts like the Mass or the Divine Office or legally indissoluble natural marriage or even any philosophical school. Imagine that it is a larger thing than that; it is a framework for our thought, our creative efforts. Imagine that it is the structure that makes something like Chartres or Salisbury Cathedral possible. The container for the idea of Chartres, without which no Chartres could be conceived.
Try to imagine this framework, for a moment, as a ruined castle that contains in its fabric, in the manner of its construction, a kind of key or code, that, if deciphered, will allow all the treasures of a dimly remembered quasi-legendary civilization to be brought back.
Now imagine that the people who live in the vicinity of the ruins are indeed the direct descendants of those who built it and they have in their cultural memory the means of deciphering the code. Their local language, their songs and stories about the life of their ancestors in and around the castle, are also part of the code. They know what the castle means.
Grammar is something that postmodernists hate (which is why it is very difficult to read their books). They fear its return because they know that you can use it to rebuild the castle.
Becoming a philologist in the traditional sense, then, is an act of subversion against the new regime, a means of preserving and rebuilding The Before. The revolutionaries knew what they were about with the abolition of grammar education. I caught the tail end of it by going to a Catholic parochial school in the mid-seventies. I was actually taught how to diagram sentences and I'm told that such things are now utterly extinct; even the memory of them is gone.
Grammar, the idea of having a set of linguistic rules governing the use of words to convey a meaning that everyone agrees upon, is one of those universals of culture. The idea that there are rules, and that breaking the rules creates chaos and confusion, is universal... except for us. The postmodern West has decided that this, along with everything else that helps us make sense of the universe, is too confining; that we must emancipate ourselves from grammar as we did from social mores. Grammar is oppression to the postmodern man.
The revolutionaries thought, We cannot be free until we have killed God, the ultimate oppressor. To kill God, we must kill all order, all sense, all law governing thought. Grammar is the law of thought; the grammar of the West (Greek and Latin) will bring back the thought of the West, which will make it possible for all the other things we love to be restored.
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