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Fulcanelli_-_The Dwellings of the Philosophers

Fulcanelli_-_The Dwellings of the Philosophers

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Published by Paul Bevan
Fulcanelli-The Dwellings Of The Philosophers,
Fulcanelli-The Dwellings Of The Philosophers,

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Published by: Paul Bevan on Nov 19, 2012
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The Dwellings of the Philosophers
With 39 Illustrations by Julien Champagne
Translated by Brigitte Donvez and Lionel Perrin
 Paradoxical in its manifestations, disconcerting in its signs, the Middle Ages proposes to thesagacity of its admirers the resolution of a singular misconception. How to reconcile theunreconcilable? How to adjust the testimony of the historical facts to that of medieval artworks?The chroniclers depict this unfortunate period in the darkest colors. For several centuries thereis nothing but invasions, wars, famines, epidemics. And yet the monuments --- faithful andsincere witnesses of these nebulous times --- bear no mark of such scourges. Much to the
contrary they appear to have been built in the enthusiasm of a powerful inspiration of idealand faith by a people happy to live in the midst of a flourishing and strongly organizedsociety.Must we doubt the veracity of historical accounts, the authenticity of the events which theyreport, and believe along with the popular wisdom of nations, that happy peoples have nohistory? Unless, without refuting en masse all of history, we prefer to discover the justification pf medieval darkness in the relative lack of incidents.Be that as it may, it remains undeniable is that all the Gothic buildings without exceptionreflect a serenity and expansiveness and a nobility without equal. If, in particular, we examinethe expression of statues, we will quickly be edified by the peaceful character, the puretranquility that emanates from these figures. All are calm and smiling, welcoming andinnocent. Lapidary humanity, silent and well-bred. Women have that portliness which ratherindicates, in their models, the excellence of rich and substantial nourishment. Children areplum, replete, and blooming. Priests, deacons, Capuchin monks, purveyor lay-brothers, clerks,and chorus singers, all show a jovial face or the pleasant figure of their portly dignity. Theirinterpreters --- those marvelous and modest carvers of images --- do not deceive us and couldnot be mistaken. They choose their prototypes from daily life among people who movearound them and in the midst of whom they themselves live. A number of these figuresrandomly found in narrow streets, taverns, schools, sacristics, workshops, may be altogethermarked or overdone, but in a picturesque tone, with a concern for character, for the sense of  joy, for generous lines. Grotesque, you may say, but joyously grotesque and full of teaching.Satires of people enjoying laughter. Drinking, singing, and fond of good living. Masterpiecesof a realist school, profoundly human and certain of its mastery, conscious of its means, andyet unaware of what pain, misery, oppression, or slavery might be. This is so true that, searchas you may, question the ogival statuary, you will never discover a figure of Christ whoseexpression reveals true suffering. Along with us, you will recognize that the latomi
workedtremendously hard to give their crucified figures a grave physiognomy without alwayssucceeding. The best ones, barely emaciated, have closed eyelids and seem to be resting. Onout cathedrals the scenes of the Last Judgment show grimacing demons, distorted, monstrous,more comical than terrible; as far as the damned, the benumbed accursed are concerned, theyare cooking in their pots over a slow heat without useless regret or genuine suffering.These free, virile, and healthy images evidence that the artists of the Middle Ages did notknow the depressing spectacle of human afflictions. Had the people suffered, had the massesmoaned in misfortune, the monuments would have kept a memento of it. Yet we know thatart, the higher expression of civilized humanity, can freely develop only under the cover of astable and sure peace. As it is with science, art cannot exercise its genius in the atmosphere of troubled societies. This applies to all elevated manifestations of human thought; revolutions,wars, upheavals are disastrous to them. They demand security born of order and concord inorder to grow, to bloom, and to bear fruit. Such strong reasons urge us to accept, with greatcircumspection, the medieval events recounted by History. We confess that the description "of a sequence of calamities, disasters, and accumulated ruins over 146 years" seems to us trulyexcessive. Something is inexplicable amiss here, since it is precisely during this unfortunateOne Hundred Years’ War, which lasted from 1337 to 1453, that the richest buildings of flamboyant style were built. It is the culminating point, the apogee of form and boldness, themarvelous phase where spirit, the divine flame, imposes its signature on the last creations of Gothic thought. It is the time where the great basilicas were completed; in religiousarchitecture, other important collegiate or monasterial buildings were also being raised: the
abbeys of Solesmes, of Cluny, of Saint Riquier, the Chartreuse of Dijon, Saint-Wulfrand’Abbeville, Saint Etienne de Beauvais, etc. We see remarkable civil edifices rising from theearth, from the Hospice of Beaune to the law courts of Rouen and the town hall of Compiegne; from the mansions built nearly everywhere by Jacques Coeur to the belfries of free cities, Bethune, Douai, Dunkerqe, etc. In our big cities, the small streets dig their narrowbed under an agglomeration of cantilevered gables, turrets and balconies, sculpted woodenhouses and stone dwellings with delicately ornate facades. Everywhere trades are developingunder the protection of medieval corporations; everywhere guildmen vie with one another intheir skill; everywhere emulation multiplies masterpieces. The university has turned outbrilliant students and its renown spreads throughout the old world; famous doctors, illustriousscientists disseminate, propagate the blessings of science and philosophy; in the silence of thelaboratory spagyrists amass materials which will later serve as the foundation for our modernchemistry; great Adepts give hermetic truth a new soaring flight... What ardor unfolded in allthe branches of human activity! And what wealth, what fecundity, what powerful faith, whattrust in the future transpire beneath this desire to build, create, search, and discover in themidst of a full-fledged invasion in this miserable country of France submitted to foreigndomination and which knows all the horrors of an interminable war!In truth, we do not understand...And thus is elucidated the reason why our preference remains vested in the Middle Ages as itis revealed to us by Gothic buildings rather than in the same period as it is described byhistorians.For it is easy to fabricate texts and documents out of nothing, old charters with warm patinas,parchments and archaic-looking seals, even a few sumptuous books of hours, annotated intheir margins, beautifully illuminated with locks, borders, and miniatures. The Montmartredistrict of Paris delivers to whoever desires it, according to the price offered, the unknownRembrandt or the authentic Teniers. A skilled artisan of the Halles district of Paris can shapewith a staggering verve and mastery little gold Egyptian divinities and massive bronze statues,marvelous imitations over which some antique dealers fight. Who does not remember theinfamous Tiara of Saitaphernes... Falsification and counterfeiting are as old as the hills, andhistory, which abhors chronological vacuums, sometimes had to call them to its rescue. Avery learned Jesuit of the 17th century, Father Jean Hardouin, did not fear to denounce asspurious numerous Greek and Roman coins and medals coined during the Renaissance andburied with the aim to fill in large historical gaps. Anatole de Montaiglon
informs us that in1639 Jacques de Bie published a folio volume with illustrations called:
The Families of France, Illustrated by the Monuments of Ancient and Modern Medals
, which, according tohim, "contains more invented medals than real ones". Let us agree that in order to give historythe documentation it was lacking, Jacques de Bie utilized a more rapid and more economicalprocess than that denounced by Father Hardouin. Victor Hugo
, citing the four best-knownhistories of France around 1830 --- those of Dupleix, Mezeray, Vely, and Father Daniel ---says of the latter that the author, "a Jesuit famous for his descriptions of battles, completed in20 years a history which has no other merit than erudition and in which the Count of Boulainvilliers found no less than 10,000 errors". We know that Caligula, in the year 40 AD,had the tower of Odre built near Boulogne-sur-Mer "to deceive future generations on thesubject of the supposed raid of Caligula on Great Britain"
. Converted into a lighthouse(turris ardens) by one of his successors, the tower of Odre collapsed in 1645.

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