Cluny report

I’ve slept better here in Cluny than I can remember sleeping for a long time – the weather has changed, and winter is definitely coming on – my brother-in-law assures me that it is below freezing outside.

As previously noted, we went up the Eiffel Tower in Paris on Tuesday; the weather was a bit misty, but the views from the top are good in any weather. It’s quite a phenomenon, I reflected – a structure whose sole purpose was to be the tallest building in the world when it was built, with no pretensions about “really” being an office block or a hotel or a broadcasting mast. And there’s no need to make any propaganda point about it being a French achievement; the building itself does that – it symbolises Paris. (F particularly wanted to do it because of Barnaby Bear.)

Then on Wednesday we dropped in very briefly on Taizé, which is halfway between here and our hosts’ other place in the countryside. I had never been before, though visited when she was a student. Apart from the multinational hordes of clearly very enthusiastic young people, what really struck us was the plainness and functionality of the actual church building – like half a dozen school gym halls bolted together. This is of course in keeping with the spirit of Taizé, but I’m more used to famous places of worship being a bit more spectacular.

And yesterday we did the tour of the remains of the Abbey of Cluny. This made a nice Hegelian synthesis of the two previous days, since it was both the largest building in Christendom (or in some versions “Western Christendom” – what was comparable in size in the East? The Hagia Sophia? The original Church of the Holy Sepulchre?) and the centre of an influential religious movement. All destroyed after the Revolution, with only the southern transept still more or less intact; but they have a fantastic 3D video reconstruction, using polarised light so that it can be in colour (to a certain extent) and you really feel that you are seeing the building as it once was. Yet there’s something a bit stark and inhuman about the computer-generated graphics; would it have killed them to put in a few stick figures wearing medieval garb?

Anyway, well worth seeing, and worth going to see.

One thought on “Cluny report

  1. (presumably there was a multiple tie for fifth place among the nominations)

    The announcement mentioned that there were four stories as no other story got the 5% of the nominations necessary to appear on the ballot.

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