Alec Nevala-Lee

Thoughts on art, creativity, and the writing life.

The asymmetry of history

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Wherever God or Christ are represented as symbols for everlasting truth or justice they are given in the symmetric frontal view, not in profile. Probably for similar reasons public buildings and houses of worship, whether they are Greek temples or Christian basilicas and cathedrals, are bilaterally symmetric. It is, however, true that not infrequently the two towers of Gothic cathedrals are different, as for instance in Chartres. But in practically every case this seems to be due to the history of the cathedral, namely to the fact that the towers were built in different periods. It is understandable that a later time was no longer satisfied with the design of an earlier period; hence one may speak here of historic asymmetry.

Hermann Weyl, Symmetry

Written by nevalalee

December 15, 2018 at 7:30 am

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