this too
Wednesday, April 05, 2006

There’s something so beguiling and satisfying about views through archways, down corridors. Their symmetry delights the eye, and something deeper than the eye. They offer what life so utterly lacks, but the human spirit never learns to stop seeking. Edges. Frames. Tidy, finite, fixed perspectives. A sense of being held, but - with a view away into the distance - not of constraint. A pleasure indeed to look at, but important to see the illusion.

St John's & Trinity Colleges, Cambridge
Stunning, uplifting pictures. I too love those sort of vistas and you've captured the mood precisely.
Wow, I recognized that first hallway right away and it practically brought tears to my eyes! I attended Cambridge for a 4 week summer program during college (I was a precious 20 years old) and no kidding, that was the best 4 weeks...oh...ever. Down that hallway in my memory are also children - doing copper rubbings - is that possible there? Or am I mixing up recollections. Just lovely anyway. Wonderful pictures - I love shots that show perspective in this particular way.
Something about doorways, points of transition.
Adriana, none of the cloisters and corridors shown here have anything on the floor but flagstones, I think. But there are many similar around the Cambridge colleges that you may have been strongly reminded of. It is a beautiful place, isn't it? Alas, when I was a student there I did not let the beauty, the colour of the ancient stones and the harmony of the arches and perspectives, sink into me and nourish me as they do now. Too much preoccupied with my own emtional and intellectual life (mostly, I fear, the former :-)
Part of the pull of these vistas is the buried historical memory. Historical in the sense of childhood, which is when we learnt to venerate arches, old stones, college quadrangles. Even out in the colonies and ex-colonies.

For their visual qualities, sure (transmitted through television shows and postcards and textbooks), but also for what they represent: learning, dignity, history, philosophical attention.

I enjoy the vista, certainly, but I don't take a benign view of the interred connections.
St Antonym, ah, one gets more benign with age. I used to feel the same as you, and I'm still no fan of ancient elite institutions, and not very forgiving of how little I learned in this one which was so unwelcoming 30-odd years ago to a working-class female student. But now I just lap up beauty without reservations, because there isn't enough of it.
Great pics. Strangely, I was walking those very same hallways a couple of weeks back wishing I had my camera with me. I'm glad I left it at home now...
You've captured some wonderful light and architecture in your photos, Jean. Peaceful and yet uplifting at the same time.
It does appeal so deeply. Straight stands of trees do the same. A view that feels safe and rhythmic, human and walkable.
Ah, I love the archways! I took more photos of arches and portales in Mexico than anything else, I think. These are more stark, and every bit as beautiful.
"But now I just lap up beauty without reservations, because there isn't enough of it."

I don't know whether or not I'll get more benign with age, Jean. There's no way of really telling. This habit of being pulled by the undertow of submerged histories might not soon leave me.

I wonder if this is true of those of us who've wandered over from particularly battered corners of the world? I don't know, it's possible. In any case, speaking for myself, I have this strange feeling of loyalty to the hidden suffering behind the surface of even the most beautiful things.

Having said all this (and it's a lot to say, forgive me), a beautiful university environment remains one of my favorite places in the world, and I wouldn't terribly mind ending up in such a place. After all, the damage of history (philosophically speaking) is so much more obvious in many other places.
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