Sunday, 13 April 2014

Riding into Jerusalem: the view from the treetops and visions of the sublime

Palm Sunday: in my mind's eye can see, this year, the Lion's Gate through which Jesus rode on his donkey - having sought it out last November. But merely having seen it doesn't add to the significance of anything - or of  the day somehow. The figures I spotted in Padua make me think more. Loved them at the time.  The frenzied excitement of the crowds watching.
Giusto de'Menaboui's fresco of figures hung like washing in the trees as Jesus rides by: in the Baptistry in Padua.
And Giotto's frescoes in the Scrovegni Chapel.

(Idly googling other images like this - come across the painting/illustration which is in my childhood Sunday School book. No indication of who it's by. The three boys carrying garlands on the right are here....)

Sticking with Alain de Botton and The Art of Travel. He talks about visions of the sublime (am not sure that the crowds welcoming Jesus thought they were in the presence of anything sublime - perhaps just the promise of great change - revolution, perhaps.) 
The term sublime started to be used at the start of the 17th century to describe landscapes that inspired awe: precipies, glaciers, night skies, deserts. These places inspired a sense of smallness. So why do we seek out divine visions - landscapes that inspire such wonder?  Because we could be seeking a sense of a god, de Botton says.
"... we may come away from such places, not crushed, but inspired by what lies beyond us; privileged to be subject to such majestic necessities. the sense of awe may even shade into a desire to worship."
An Avalanche in the Alps/Philip James de Loutherbourg

Reading and watching

  • Foot by Foot to Santiago de Compostela/Judy Foot
  • The Testament of Mary with Fiona Shaw at the Barbican
  • The Testament of Mary/Colm Toibin
  • Schwanengesang/Schubert - Tony Spence
  • Journals/Robert Falcon Scott
  • Fugitive Pieces/Ann Michaels
  • Unless/Carol Shields
  • Faust/Royal Opera House
  • The Art of Travel/Alain de Botton
  • Mad Men Series 6
  • A Week at The Airport/Alain de Botton
  • The Railway Man/Eric Lomax
  • Bright Lights, Big City/Jay McInerney
  • Stones of Venice/John Ruskin
  • The Sea, the Sea/Iris Murdoch
  • Childe Harold/Lord Byron
  • All The Pretty Horses/Cormac McCarthy
  • Extreme Rambling/Mark Thomas
  • Story of my Life/Jay McInerney
  • Venice Observed/Mary McCarthy