According to Genesis 1:3, the Bible tells us that one of God’s very first acts in the Creation process was to bring forth light! The history of Western Civilization is intimately tied to the phenomena of light. Our language is replete with a wide swath of references to human values strongly associated with the word light. Examples such as: illumination, luminescence, brilliance, radiance, understanding, enlightenment, comprehension, knowledge, etc. are words we use on a regular basis where we interconnect light with strong associations of value to the human condition. Combine the symbolic associations we have grown to appreciate regarding the manifestation of light with the more modern understanding that light is not static and you can begin to recognize the importance of light to the Gothic mind.
Abbot Suger, one of the principle contributors to the Gothic movement, made the following observation that was carved into an entranceway to a Gothic interior:
‘All you who seek to honor these doors,
Marvel not at the gold and expense but at the craftsmanship of the work.
The noble work is bright, but, being nobly bright, the work
Should brighten the minds, allowing them to travel through
To the true light, where Christ is the true door.
The golden door defines how it is imminent in these things.
The dull mind rises to the truth through material things,
And is resurrected from its former submersion when the
light is seen.’
What are your thoughts/impressions of the Gothic sensibility which Abbot Suger helped fix into visible form through the sense of light?
Abbot Suger in Stained Glass Window of the Abbey of Saint Denis
Facade of the Abbey of Saint Denis
Interior of the Abbey of Saint Denis