Friday, October 19, 2012

Mont Saint Michel and Chartres by Henry Adams

Mont Saint Michel, Normandy, France
  • "The Archangel [Michael] stands for Church and State, and both militant." - Ch. 1 Saint Michiel de la Mer del Peril, 343
  • "Church and State, Soul and Body, God and Man, are all one at Mont Saint Michel, and the business of all is to fight, each in his own way, or to stand guard for each other." - 349
  • "The great cathedrals after 1200 show economy, and sometimes worse. The world grew cheap, as worlds must." - 350
  • "Barring her family quarrels, Europe was a unity then [11th century], in thought, will and object. Christianity was the unit. Mont Saint Michel and Byzantium were near each other...The East was the common enemy, always superior in wealth and numbers, frequently in energy, and sometimes in thought and art." - Ch. 3 The Merveille, 371
  • "History is only a catalogue of the forgotten. The eleventh century is no worse off than its neighbors. The twelfth is, in architecture, rather better off than the nineteenth." - 373
  • "To overload the memory with dates is the vice of every schoolmaster and the passion of every second-rate scholar." - 374
  • "Saint Francis was preaching to the birds in 1215 in Assissi, and the architect built this cloister [the Merveille] in 1226 at Mont Saint Michel. Both sermons were saturated with the feeling of the time, and both are about equally worth noting, if one aspires to feel the art." - 382
  • "the Norman will be the practical scheme which states the facts, and stops; while the French will be the graceful one, which states the beauties and more or less fits the facts to suit them. Both styles are great: both can sometimes be tiresome." - Ch. 4 Normandy and the Ile de France, 392
  • "In the western church the Virgin had always been highly honored, but it was not until the crusades that she began to overshadow the Trinity itself." - Ch. 6 The Virgin of Chartres, 427
  • "Chartres represents, not the Trinity, but the identity of the Mother and Son. The Son represents the Trinity, which is thus absorbed in the Mother." - 436
  • "The world still struggles for unity, but by different methods, weapons and thought." - Ch. 8 The Twelfth Century Glass, 470
  • "Mary's taste was infallible; her knowledge like her power had no limits; she knew men's thoughts as well as acts, and could not be the twelfth century the gallows was a trifle; the Queen hardly considered it a punishment for an offence to her dignity. The artist was vividly aware that Mary disposed of Hell." - Ch. 9 The Legendary Windows, 490
  • "the sermon of Chartres...teaches and preaches and insists and reiterates and hammers into our torpid minds the moral that the art of the Virgin was not that of her artists but her own. We inevitably think of our tastes; they thought instinctively of hers." - Ch. 10 The Court of the Queen of Heaven, 519
  • "The docile obedience of the man to the woman seemed as reasonable to the thirteenth century as the devotion of the woman to the man, not because she loved him, for there was no question of love, but because he was her man, and she owned him as though he were her child." - Ch. 11 The Three Queens, 533
  • "it is the art we have chased through this French forest...and the art leads always to the woman." - Ch.12 Nicolette and Marion, 568
  • "If a Unity exists, in which and towards which all energies centre, it must explain and include Duality, Diversity, Infinity, -- Sex!" - Ch. 13 Les Miracles de Notre Dame, 582-3
  • "The People loved Mary because she tramples on conventions; not merely because she could do it, but because she liked to do what shocked every well-regulated authority." - 585
  • "Mary concentrated in herself the whole rebellion of man against fate; the whole protest against divine law; the whole contempt for human law as its outcome; the whole unutterable fury of human nature beating itself against the walls of its prisonhouse" - 596
  • "Army, Church, and State, each is an organic whole, complex beyond all possible addition of units, and not a Concept at all, but rather an animal that thinks, creates, devours and destroys." - Ch. 14 Abelard, 621
  • "For several thousand years mankind has stared Infinity in the face without pretending to be the wiser; the pretention of Abelard was that, by his dialectic method, he could explain the Infinite, while all other theologists talked mere words" - 632
  • "The [Church's] battle with the schools had then resulted only in creating three kinds of sceptics: the disbelievers in human reason; the passive agnostics; and the sceptics proper who would have been atheists had they dared." - Ch. 15 The Mystics, 639
  • "If ever modern science achieves the definition of Energy, possibly it may borrow the figure: -- Energy is the inherent effort of every multiplicity to become unity." - 649
  • "The charm of the twelfth-century Church was that it knew how to be illogical...when God himself became illogical." - 656
  • "God is an intelligent, fixed Prime Motor, -- not a concept, or proved by concepts; -- a concrete fact, proved by the senses of sight and touch. On that foundation Thomas built." - Ch. 16 Saint Thomas Aquinas, 668-9
  • "The whole universe is, so to speak, a simple emanation from God. The famous junction, then, is made! that celebrated fusion of the Universal with the Individual, of Unity and Multiplicity, of God and Nature, which had broken the neck of every philosophy ever invented" - 674
  • "Theist or atheist, monist or anarchist must all admit that society and science are equally interested with theology in deciding whether the Universe is one or many, a harmony or a discord. The Church and State asserted that it was a harmony and that they were its representatives." - 682
Democracy, Esther, Mont Saint Michel and Chartres, The Education of Henry Adams by Henry Adams, Library of America, 1983.