Friday, May 20, 2011
Taking the Road of the Solar Wind, 4; the ruins of Languidou
What is it with a ruin? Perhaps it shows the beauty of the elements of the building in a way that the finished, knit-together structure cannot. Spaces only partially enclosed require an act of vision to define them which engages the viewer more deeply. Or perhaps it is the paradox: pillars to support a roof which isn't there, a rose window to pass the light through stained glass but which is open to the changing colours of the sky, arches which stop in air before the arc is achieved or barely even begun.
Or perhaps its the melancholy of them. (Melancholy, I think, is a sort of default vagueness, a get-out clause, a smothering lack of focus says Edmund de Waal, in The Hare with Amber Eyes, everyone's book of the year, if not the decade, I know, and worthwhile for this line alone, and for the fact that he sticks to that position...)
The funny thing is, one deplores the forces that ruined the chapel of Languidou - it was broken up for materials just after the Revolution, which is odd, since many other religious buildings in this region escaped this - but if it weren't a ruin it would be less remarkable, one of dozens of quaint old chapels which dot this part of the world. And the ruin is a piece of artifice, reconstructed, perhaps inaccurately, in the early part of the last century, so far and no further, to create just the romantic impression I've fallen for.
However, though the French wiki link above goes into exhaustive detail about the architectural history of the place, and deciphering inscriptions which might give further clues to this - it has obviously been the subject of much study as well as many photos - I can't seem to find any reference to the beguiling little face under the capital, or indeed the geometric mandala type figure on another capital, or the worn cross in a circle on a threshold stone underfoot,.though they appear in other photos. So they remain mysterious, to me anyway. I'm rather glad about that.