January 09, 2012

short days, long nights, random thoughts

According to Aristotle, the stairway represented the divine order of the universe.  In their metaphysical ambition to link heaven and earth, the early Mesopotamians melded the stairway and the spiral when they created their legendary ziggurat.

The double helix staircase at Chateau de Chambord, its design attributed to Leonardo da Vinci, is a puzzle (how can you see another person on the stairs but not meet them face to face?).

When I first saw the Jantar Mantar with its seemingly random placement of stone stairways the observatory looked like a collection of movable gateways waiting for the planes to land.  It looked surreal, rather than what it was, the embodiment of scientifically calculated star-watching posts in fact, stairways to the stars.

Clerics and all manner of royal personages have deployed stairways in grandiose ceremonies and buildings. 

Aspects of worship or pilgrimage are often associated with climbing.

A stairway implies the magic and mystery of the transitory, the idea of ascending toward the invisible with all its attendant symbolism. 
A spiral or helix stairway could be energy frozen in time and space, like freezing water.

This beautiful spiral mahogany staircase was located in the Rose Inn, a B & B just north of Ithaca, New York. A fire in 2004 destroyed the staircase and the section of the Inn which housed it. Unfortunately it will not be rebuilt.

A neglected stairway is a melancholy sight even the light seems to be in retreat.  A grand staircase at Parc de Sceaux near Paris, as photographed by Andre Kertesz, is the image of desertion. 

No footsteps have disturbed the wind-blown leaves from their resting places, no broom or rake has tidied them.  A stairway, and a grand one at that, it commands respect for human ingenuity as it reminds us of the flux at the heart of existence.


Ms. Capshaw said...

Lovely post

Charles said...

Winter becomes you Ms. Edna.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Ms. Edna…
…From the bottom of my heart.
For allowing me to make so many imaginary journeys since I am too frail to leave my room. I look, see, wonder, and live.

frenchtoast said...

Tantalizing, thought-provoking, curving upward into the soul sort of post. I feel as satisfied as though I'd just climbed the stairs to my apartment. That last sentence of yours took my breath away. Many thanks.

Anonymous said...

expect nothing and nothing will come bearing something
—sure thing. thanks.