Sanctuary Memoir

By Dienifer Vieira


Goethe was right when he called architecture frozen music. I am not an expert nor an architecture student, and yet, that does not impede me to express how I feel towards the subject. Thank God – just a usual phrase (allow me not to get into this concern now) – metaphors and other figures of speech exist, for that I am more capable of explaining what occurs deep inside me when I gaze at those triumphant walls. My head gets straight, my chin up; my expression silent, aligned to the mien of the walls. I sense the cold, dense air hovering the cathedral. My hand leisurely touches the walls, capturing the vivid death of the permanent history, the undeniable, the inflexible, the perpetuum through my organic finger tips. True, but mysterious look – revealing my thoughts fall into consecutive chasms, losing themselves one inside another, while my body functions in the present regardless of my soul. 

The silence was echoing… I could hear music. Chopin was playing the piano beautifully. My moves were gently careful; my touches, graceful. Perhaps, I would even feel sorry for being there, or too insignificant. Too immaterial. Powerless beyond that Gothic cathedral. Grieved for it decays as time passes. 

The combination of the carved, pointed arches over the windows with stained glass and phantasmagorical plays of light, the tympanum over the entrance, the magnificent flying buttresses giving a sense of grandeur, the sophisticated ribbed vault ceiling, the sumptuous height reaching up to the heavens, the oculus forming a rose window placed below the pointed arch in between the spires – these lending an impression of loftiness, and the screaming gargoyles freezing legends and myths, heightening a sense of allegory and the fantastic – altogether, are a harmonious pattern of point and counterpoint, aesthetically pleasing to the eye, just as listening to music. It all quenches the thirst of my spirit, fills the vacuum left by the liquid modernity, stops the time, warms my heart, intensifies my catharsis process, makes me fly with my feet on the ground. Head on the clouds. Art for art’s sake. Intrinsic value. Autotelic, complete in itself. Divorced from any moral, political, didactic or utilitarian function. L’art pour l’art. I share Goethe’s wholehearted translation of feelings into words by being amazed with the unexpected emotions that seized me when I stood before the edifice. My soul was suffused with a feeling of immense grandeur, which, because it consisted of thousands of harmonizing details, I was able to savor and enjoy, but by no means understand and explain. 

Shades of grey, chandeliers, wine. I shall not have the sacramental bread nor the communion wine, for my desire is not to blasphemy, Christianity already does it by itself. Sinners shall sit on the tough benches. Their feet step on forgotten carcasses rotting under the consecrated church ground. Death is magnificent, but the thanatological discourses are by the living ones. Passages of the bible, didactically depicted on the stained glasses, try to soothe that our beloved ones are in detriment. Struggle to alleviate sinners’ grief and subjective conflicts by, as Freud said, to help “internalize the desire to feel immortal”. Illusion. To think of the death is to deny her. However, one should not fear death, as Epicurus said “as long as we exist, she is not here. And once she comes, we no longer exist”. Window closed. I am back. 

Beethoven is now playing. Even the colour of the masonry oxidation is delightful. The walls cannot speak, but if I gaze at them long enough, they could offer visual clues about their hidden secrets. Perhaps, it is not necessary to interpret what I see into words – the truth simply reveals to me as pure presence. Perchance, I cannot but admire the bold outline, the delicate chiseling, the grandeur of the towers – kinds of inimitable architecture. Language is not enough. 

Such artwork arouses and awakes one of my angles that I love. It feeds my soul. Feeds my spirit. If my spirit is to be fed, am I a frivolous one? Well, Kardec (in respect of the druids), pardon me, but Satan complies quietly with my tone. My vitality is at its peak and I prefer to hold with the meaning of the vital existence rather than of spiritual pipe dreams (the second LaVeyan satanic statement). After all, by the closeness of the flesh I am a woman. I am just fulfilling my role according to Genesis. If that is true, at least, you will all die in behalf of my sex, my genitals… Genesis. We are taking you with us. My eyebrows laugh; my resonance, mordants. Am I blaspheming inside this Gothic church? I told you my thoughts fall into consecutive chasms, losing themselves one inside another, struggling to quench my thirst. I apologize, my dear, for being sui juris to some extent… not. 

An illusive consensus! A lie! A majestuous building for nothing! Beautiful on the outside, decayed deeply within. Your razors cut for real, thus, you have saved me from your own odor. Of my blood, you shall never get drunk. How stunning you are! Oh yes, father, toll the bell. I am burgundy as wine, dark red as vivid blood. Carnal. Oh, God… without you, poetry burns inside me! Window closed. Have I ever returned at all?

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