I detest cathedrals and the nonsense behind them


But I love history and craftsmanship and art. It is a great loss to humanity that Notre Dame is burning.

A majestic work of art begun in 1160 — about 850 years of history — in flames and collapsing. No matter what else happens, 2019 sucks.

Comments

  1. DonDueed says

    How sad. They’re saying it may all go, since all the wood structure is burning.

  2. says

    Yeah, I’m hearing that all of the supporting structures are aflame. If the stones go, the kinds of masons who could rebuild are practically nonexistent. It may be reduced to a gutted shell.

  3. says

    Yeah, seems like it’s totaled, although I suppose the masonry walls, which are buttressed, may be left standing. But think of all the irreplaceable architecture destroyed in WWII, including many cathedrals. I saw the ruins of Coventry Cathedral, which they preserved as a monument. At least this was an accident of some sort, apparently. But in any case, the works of humans do not last forever.

  4. says

    So, any bets on how long it will be before some US religious type claims the fire was God’s punishment for something or other?

  5. says

    Good. Hope it took a bunch of kiddie-diddling pederasts in dresses with it, though am not expecting that kind of luck.

    PZ, I don’t care about “art” or “the humanities” in this context; the Catholic Church is a nearly-1700-year-old abomination against humanity and the more of it burns the better. I just wish it were the Vatican. And hopefully the HQ of the WELS is next. And the Dome of the Rock. And the Wailing Wall. Basically, I hope the entire 3000+-year-long nightmare of Abrahamic terrorism burns.

  6. says

    I’ve been reading accounts of people standing in the smoke. That yellow smoke? That’s lead. The whole roof was lead.

    Without the weight of the roof beams pushing out, the flying buttresses push in against the walls. The whole thing could collapse.

    There are columns in there that represent the combined work of generations of stonesmiths.

    Also: the pipe organ was a beautiful thing and it’s certainly gone by now. The cathedral survived hundreds of years of european bloody-mindedness, only to burn by accident.

  7. Akira MacKenzie says

    Cervantes @ 7

    Your right, sorry. Damn! Stupid people like me shouldn’t try to be poignant.

  8. says

    @Marissa

    I rather not lose well over 25% of all the world’s great works and large swaths of the Western canon. In this context? You don’t care about art or the humanities period.

  9. bachfiend says

    Personally, I never particularly cared for the Notre Dame. I think it’s a bit of overheavy masonry with very little beauty (there are other later much more attractive cathedrals, such as the ones in Chartres and Strasbourg).

    I laughed at the references to the so-called relics, such as the fragment of the cross, or the nail, or the crown of thorns, from the alleged crucifixion of Jesus.

    There isn’t all that much history associated with the Notre Dame. Once I passed it on a coach going on a tour to Normandy, and the guide asked the tour group for the most important historical event that had ever happened in the Notre Dame, and I immediately answered ‘the coronation of Napoleon in 1804’ (I’d visited the Louvre the day before and had admired David’s enormous painting of it – a fire in the Louvre would be a real tragedy). She repeated the question several times, before realising that I’d already given the correct answer.

    I’m going to commit blasphemy. The loss of the Notre Dame isn’t all that much of a tragedy. I’d be much more unhappy if the world lost the cathedrals in Strasbourg. Or Salisbury. Or Cologne.

  10. slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says

    regardless of their motivation to build it, I still admire the craftsmanship of the final structure presented. I see it as architecture, disregarding all the religious overtones of it.
    It is a great work of art, worth admiring as an example of our capabilities.
    It is quite tragic to see the spire topple, and the roof in flames. I really hope they make restoration a national project.

  11. anxionnat says

    I yield to no one in my contempt for the criminal conspiracy that’s the catholic church. But–a bit off topic–I remember a now-deceased co-worker who, though he descended from generations of Scottish ministers, was himself non-religious. He said, when he visited the church where his ancestors preached, several years ago, that he was glad the beautiful old church had been preserved. It’s not an active church, and is now a community center. So that beauty can still be admired and cherished. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that more tourists than worshipers visit Notre Dame today. (Or, I guess, yesterday.) Also, as I learned from my grandfathers (both union organizers in the 1930s), all work has dignity, whether you are scrubbing toilets or creating church frescoes. This fire is a tragedy because it erases the work of generations of workers, who created beauty. Their religious beliefs, or lack thereof, are irrelevant to the dignity of their work and the beauty they left for future generations of whatever or no religion.

  12. DonDueed says

    bachfiend: The Koln cathedral was deliberately spared by the allied bombing in WW2. It’s rather incredible, given how difficult it was in those days to hit what you wanted to hit, that they were able to not-hit what they didn’t want to hit.

    I agree, Notre Dame was far from the finest of cathedrals, but it was iconic and historically important.

  13. blf says

    I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that more tourists than worshipers visit Notre Dame today.

    30,000 tourists a day is the number France24 has been quoting — mostly for free, since by French law, an active church cannot charge for admission. (You do have to pay to go up the iconic stone bell towers in the front, but that was about it.)

  14. says

    @Marissa #8: I kinda agree, if it meant wiping out the tyranny of religion it could perhaps be a fair trade. But it isn’t. We’re not getting anything in return for this. And we loose a piece of our history. Even the bad parts of it has value.

  15. drst says

    Marissa @8 – so were you happy when the Taliban destroyed those statues that had been carved and stood for thousands of years too? Cause that’s what you sound like right now. “Who cares that this is a huge part of human history and a tremendous work of art, I hate the institution as an organization so get rid of it!”

    I’m so beyond over the “I’m announcing that I don’t care about X thing and that makes me better than you” culture of the internet.

  16. drst says

    The one good bit of news I’ve seen so far is that some of the statues and other pieces that had been around the roof, especially near the spire, were removed for the renovation, so some of them may be saved.

  17. blf says

    How ’bout a vatican-sized giant sinkhole? ;-) which then slams shut… the mildly deranged penguin suggests it have teeth, sharp teeth, and chews its food thoroughly…

  18. Alt-X says

    And not a peep from their god. Guess he’s to busy finding people’s car keys and making people convulse on the floor talking in “tongues”. Such a useful god…

  19. says

    Looks like the whole roof is gone. Another picture I saw clearly showed the interior of the bell tower was burning. It’s going to be an empty shell.

  20. says

    From what I’ve read once the fire started they began pulling a lot of the artwork and relics out, so a lot of stuff that was in the cathedral was probably saved. The medieval woodwork and the stained glass windows are probably all destroyed. It will undoubtedly leave behind a spectacular ruin which I hope they decide to leave in-place or build around. Hundreds of years from now people will look back and say the cathedral “survived” this fire, even though everyone is saying today that it’s being destroyed.

  21. says

    Like many, I’ve visited Notre Dame. It was impressive in size and intricacy and artistic expression. Although some are more impressed with other aspects including the entry facade, I was most impressed by the flying buttresses which were, at the time, new to architecture. Essentially half an arch leaning against a wall such that each supports the other, the simplicity of the idea did nothing to change my wonder. The buttresses did not, of course, enable a large savings in total construction materials or costs. The materials saved on the walls still needed to be placed somewhere to sustain the heavy roof. By thinning the material requirements for the load-bearing walls, however, you save some materials that would have gone to supporting load-bearing elements own weight. I know nothing about architecture or civil engineering, but I understand that this creates some net savings even after the material requirements of the buttresses are added in. The savings on this material, however, was certainly dwarfed by the increased costs due to complexity and the uncertainty of novel techniques.

    What the employment of the flying buttress did do, however, is create great gaps in between. In other words, these artists and crafters took a great risk on a new architectural technique to for no more benefit than the artistic opening of space to air and light. The work was beautiful and in transitioning out of Romanesque architecture helped create a revolution in how we envision the spaces in which humans are intended to work and live.

    I am sad at the fire and hope the building is restored.

  22. Porivil Sorrens says

    God damn this sucks, regardless of how one feels about the Catholic Church’s actions, it was an important historical monument and on a more personal level, a step on my bucket list. The world is poorer for its burning down.

  23. kurt1 says

    @4 PZ

    Yeah, I’m hearing that all of the supporting structures are aflame. If the stones go, the kinds of masons who could rebuild are practically nonexistent. It may be reduced to a gutted shell.

    They rebuilt the Frauenkirche in Dresden, it took more than 10 years, from 1994 until 2005. They used the old stones whenever possible and recreated the rest.

  24. blf says

    Latest reports on France24 and the Grauniad are “Notre-Dame’s main structure has been ‘saved and preserved’, a Paris fire official has told AFP.”

    However, one firefighter has been seriously injured.

  25. expat says

    I guess god works in mysterious ways, eh? He must not have wanted that building anymore.

  26. Rob Grigjanis says

    Marissa van Eck @8:

    I hope the entire 3000+-year-long nightmare of Abrahamic terrorism burns.

    Huh. Why not the entire 350,000-year-long nightmare of Homo sapiens terrorism?

  27. Duckbilled Platypus says

    I can relate with people wanting to see the edifice of organized religion burn to cinders, but I regret reading some literally want to see its buildings burn. Commissioned by a genuinely evil institute, yes, I agree. But a centuries old brick and mortar history book, nonetheless, and one of the largest standing testaments to our muddy and twisted past.

    I remember my first visit of the Notre Dame at the age of about 16, when I visited Paris as part of a French classes school trip. I think I had barely seen any church from the inside, and this was certainly the first cathedral I ever set foot in. The detail and richness in its Gothic portal and arches was already impressive but the sheer immensity of the dark ship and its dome, when standing inside, was genuinely jaw-dropping and it impressed me deeply. I think it was the first time I was ever in such a large open indoor space. I was not, and never have been, religious, but I had never realized before that these were the architectural feats mankind was capable of, even long before I was born. I’ll never forget that feeling.

    Whenever I went to Paris thereafter – with former relationships, with my wife, and last year, also accompanied by my children – I’ve always made sure to stop at The Big 5: the Arc de Triomphe, the Eiffel Tower, the Sacré Coeur, the Louvre and the Notre Dame (and then, the countless other gems). It felt like visiting old acquaintances – and we could do that happily ignorant of historic context maybe, because we didn’t share that history. They were pieces of what made Paris, pieces that had been there a long time and were supposed to be always there, and I’m sure many Parisiens would feel the same.

    I’m afraid this is going to sound sentimental, and yes, I know it was essentially a pile of glorified wood, mortar and brick, but it feels like some old acquaintance, someone who showed me something unexpected and unforgettable, just died. I never realized I’d see it for the last time, last year. I might have looked up more rather than being annoyed by the ridiculously long queue-up for security.

  28. Duckbilled Platypus says

    I never did visit the Sacré-Cœur. That’s another – and very different – exceptional architectural artwork.

    To be honest, the Basilica is so much more prettier from the outside that it doesn’t merit the long security queues to visit the inside, which is mostly empty. But it has a great view over the city, there is usually lots of street theater going on, and of course there’s the welcoming tourist trap of the Montmartre art market in the area behind it, worth spending an hour browsing if you can stand the crowds.

  29. weylguy says

    The embracing skeletons of Quasimodo the Bell Ringer and Esmeralda must be turning in their crypt (that’s the book version, not the 1939 film). And I agree with other commenters — it shoulda been St. Peter’s Basilica.

  30. nomdeplume says

    I was not fond of Notre Dame (now Chartres is a different matter!) – a dark ugly building full of tourists. Like others though I am sad to see history burning, and pleased to hear that much has now been saved apart from the tower. But, oh dear, grown men worked in that building who seriously believe they own the “crown of thorns”? Brains rotted by religion, yet again.

  31. hemidactylus says

    On a high school hosted trip to Europe during the summer after my freshman year we stopped in New York a few days. I wound up getting dizzy on the observation floor of the Trade Center. It swayed a bit and I hate heights. But glad in retrospect I was there. In Paris I checked out Notre Dame. No idea at the time both buildings would meet their doom. Sad. One was archaic and steeped in tradition and the other modern and quite tall.

    Hard to believe Notre Dame is gone.

  32. kingoftown says

    Really sad to see one of the most iconic building in France destroyed, wish I had been able to see it. I can’t understand the people saying they would like to see St Peter’s basilica destroyed. Would you really want to destroy the beauty of the Sistine Chapel because of the institution that commissioned it? Erasing history by destroying monuments is for dictators and puritanical religious wingnuts.

  33. petesh says

    A few people seem to be confused about the difference between an essentially abstract idea (even if honored in physical space) and individual human beings (some of whom are terrible). If Notre Dame comes down, that does not mean the Catholic Church does. Conversely, if the Catholic Church as an institution, an idea, collapses, destroying Notre Dame is not a necessary corollary.

    I wanted to visit the Buddhas of Bamyan, in Afghanistan. When I was in the country, several times in the 1970s, I was young and en route to somewhere else; I thought they’d always be there. They are not. They were dynamited by the Taliban. I consider that a crime against humanity. If someone deliberately set the Notre Dame fire (which seems not to be the case), I would also consider that a crime against humanity. Anyone cheering this accident badly needs to do some self-reflection.

  34. Michael says

    When I heard that the fire hoses couldn’t reach the top, I thought that in future this problem could be solved using drone technology. If they had say 20 drones that were each big enough to carry a remote controlled fire extinguisher, then the drones could fly to places that were too high or too dangerous for firemen to reach. They could then empty their extinguishers, then fly out for them to be replaced. Also drones are easy to replace if any were damaged or destroyed in doing so.

  35. Ed Seedhouse says

    @49: Yes and the twitterverse is alive with cries of “miracle”! I guess the brave firefighters following a smart plan had nothing to do with it. Also, and oddly, no one cited just what laws of physics or chemistry were violated by the “miracle”.

  36. magistramarla says

    As a retired Latin teacher, I felt greatly privileged to visit the Parthenon in Athens. It was partially destroyed by bombs during one of the World Wars. As I remember, arms were foolishly stored there. I assume it was believed that historical artifacts were sacrosanct and would not be attacked. There is a lift up the side of the cliff for wheelchair users. I gulped and swallowed my fear of heights in order to have the privilege of touring the top of the Acropolis. It was well worth it.
    There is a full-scale replica of the Parthenon in Tennessee. By wandering around there, one can see what the original might have been like, or at least as close as classicists could come. It is rather heartbreaking to compare what might have been to what truly exists. I wonder if there will someday be a replica of the Notre Dame Cathedral?
    BTW, we Latin Teachers were having a convention in Tennessee, and were given permission to enjoy a cocktail party in the replica Parthenon while wearing our togas and stolas. Definitely a highlight of my teaching career!

  37. DanDare says

    My fave cathedral is Chertres. It still has most of its ancient stained glass, other similar works ha vbing been mostly destroyed by two world wars.
    I hope they take this opportunity to fund some fireproofing for the old relic.

  38. magistramarla says

    I just followed Salty Current’s link.
    The son of an old friend (ironically, an Atheist), is a master artist with stained glass. He travels all over the US to jobs, mostly in churches, to clean, repair and restore stained glass windows. I’m hoping that there will be many artists like him who will be able to come as close as possible to replicating those lost stained glass pieces.

  39. unclefrogy says

    when I heard of this tragic fire my first thought was they must have been doing some work on the old building then I saw a picture that showed a great deal of scaffolding.
    There was no reason outside of trying to save money and cutting some, as it turns out very expensive and important, corners. As has been noted this was as much a museum and ancient cultural artifact as it was a church and not just an old building. Unless ancient buildings are made like the pyramids of Egypt they burn easily there is no excuse worth the trouble of listing it that could answer.
    This is 2019 temporarily installed fire control systems are very possible and at the very least active fire watch 24/7 ,like human beings whose job it is to walk around the entire job sight and look for fire and hazards.
    uncle frogy

  40. unclefrogy says

    Further I would bet that the renovations required the use of welding and cutting torches to re-do and repair old iron re-enforcing. I have seen many welders have accidental fires surrounding their work.
    guuuh!!
    uncle frogy

  41. raven says

    This is 2019 temporarily installed fire control systems are very possible and at the very least active fire watch 24/7 ,like human beings whose job it is to walk around the entire job sight and look for fire and hazards.

    Was wondering that myself.
    Keeping in mind that my formal training in old building fire suppression systems is zero:

    .1. Why wasn’t there a dedicated water line or two to the top of the building along with a few fire hoses and/or maybe a built in sprinkler system?
    .2. More fire sensors, cameras, and alarms at the top of the building, especially where they were working on it.
    This is 2019, computerized wireless heat, smoke, camera, and fire sensors must be readily available and inexpensive.

  42. wzrd1 says

    @PZ, there are still quite a few masons who know how to work with slaked lime mortar, indeed, they’ve been called during renovations in the past, when air pollution damage forced stones to be replaced in the walls.
    Indeed, that portland cement based mortar wasn’t used is something of a blessing, as that can suffer extreme degradation from fire effects.

    As for thermal sources, if a significant quantity of slaked lime was being prepared, well, that’s an intensely exothermic process and infamous for causing fires at restoration sites. As are pots and heat sources for repairing lead roofing.

    Fortunately, the statues and gargoyles were largely removed in preparation for the renovations and most of the artwork was already removed from the building, what remained was removed before the fire became intense.

    As for comments on standpipes and drones with fire extinguishers, drones are impractical for any large conflagration. Updrafts would render them a greater hazard than the fire is and what a drone could carry, even ten thousand drones wouldn’t slow the fire. Standpipes would require rather strong pumps, you’re talking about a head space of 90 meters of large gauge pipe, at around 130 PSI, to move perhaps 80 gallons per minute. That’s a mighty pump and motor, likely to induce structural damage just by the vibration of the entire pump unit!
    Yeah, I’ve had to spec out fire suppression systems. An FM200 system would be utterly impossible, as that building’s volume is immense and displacing that much atmosphere just isn’t practical.

    Cleanup alone will take a long time. The scaffolding was glowing yellow hot in many places and that will have to be removed as a potential collapse hazard, then debris from the top removed, then consider the debris that fell inside of the structure.
    Masonry that’s in danger of collapse would have to be removed, numbered and carefully lowered and cleaned.
    The woodwork, now that will cost a fortune. Pine wasn’t used, a lot of structural work was done in hard woods.
    I can see just a site evaluation taking a few years,

    One upside, if masonry repair is required in any significant amount, the slaked lime absorbs carbon dioxide when going from hydrated lime to calcium carbonate.
    And a whole new generation to learn about older, moderately more environmentally kinder masonry methods (the kiln work needed to make quicklime than to make Portland cement or other cementitious mortars).
    Dad was a stonemason and me, being an information sponge, I learned a lot from him. Especially, during summer jobs, building a two and a half car garage and by boy scout project, an outside hearth for a barbecue. That project was done with slaked lime mortar, which would stand up to the heat nearly as well as refractory cement and stones, which was outside of my budget, so fieldstone was used and lime mortar.

  43. pilgham says

    Just looking around the internet, but it looks like the shell is still intact. The interior just needs to be filled back up. I’m sure the Vatican has more than enough bling in storage to do the job. This isn’t the first time Notre Dame has been trashed. It’s happened a couple of times before and been restored. Maybe the Catholics and the french nation can be moved to actually spend money and do a bit of preventative maintenance instead of just organizing fund drives. And you know tourists love a good story. Find some part that hasn’t been damaged, christen it as “The Miracle of Notre Dame” and put a contribution box in front of it.

    But really, why was it allowed to get in this state in the first place?

  44. alkisvonidas says

    @magistramarla, #51

    I felt greatly privileged to visit the Parthenon in Athens. It was partially destroyed by bombs during one of the World Wars. As I remember, arms were foolishly stored there.

    magistramarla, you are possibly confused? The Parthenon sustained great damage during the Morean war, fought between Venice and the Ottomans in the 1600s. The Turks were fortified in the Acropolis (which was the whole point of an acropolis in ancient times, a high place to be defended, only weapons had much changed).

    By wandering around there, one can see what the original might have been like, or at least as close as classicists could come.

    You probably know that, in ancient times, the temple, frieze and sculptures were painted in bright colors. There are some attempts at reconstruction, but it’s mostly speculation, of course. Future generations will much benefit from our photographic, scanning and data storage and retrieval technology: what did not survive the Notre Dame fire can probably be faithfully reconstructed, although of course the loss is still significant.

  45. benedic says

    “If the stones go, the kinds of masons who could rebuild are practically nonexistent. ”

    No !PJ-happily.
    There are many “compagnons” expert stone-masons in France. They have learned their craft from a tradition of masters who worked on the great cathedrals: Merimée and those who saved the collapsing buildings in the 19th century encouraged the corps and their skilling in traditional methods.

  46. cartomancer says

    It is a very sad occurrence, but not an unprecedented one by any stretch of the imagination. Cathedrals burned down, fell down or got damaged in wars all the time during the Middle Ages. The longer something persists, the more chance there is of it meeting with a nasty accident. I suspect the original masons in the Twelfth Century would not have been at all surprised that something like this would happen eventually.

    The cynic in me wonders whether Macron set the fire himself, so as to distract the country from his deeply unpopular government and its foibles.

  47. Ragutis says

    Uh oh. It seems that as of this morning, despite yesterday’s optimism, there are now concerns about the structural stability. Though, apparently, many of the holiest “relics” were rescued. Was there a prepuce there? I hope someone grabbed it. It’d be a shame to see one of those go.

    On the plus side, several hundred million dollars have already been pledged to reconstruction efforts. I wonder how much the Vatican will kick in? (Yeah, my hopes aren’t up either, but they could at least drag some artworks out of their vaults to help replace what was lost.)

    As for those happy to see it burn? I can’t find the words to express my response to that kind of thinking. Burn down the evils infecting Catholicism and/or religions in general, but spare the buildings, spare the art, spare the history. Make these places museums, monuments to what people can create rather than sanctuaries of the corrupt and degenerate institutions that commissioned them.

  48. Arnaud says

    WZRD1 @ 59 : “Masonry that’s in danger of collapse would have to be removed, numbered and carefully lowered and cleaned.
    The woodwork, now that will cost a fortune. Pine wasn’t used, a lot of structural work was done in hard woods.
    I can see just a site evaluation taking a few years,”

    The woodwork is made of oak. The replacement are ready: planted in Versailles after the French revolution.
    More details here: https://twitter.com/theek/status/1117895531563372544

  49. slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says

    Paul Macron has committed France to complete restoration of the landmark Heart of France and one French CEO has pledger 100M Euros for the project

  50. raven says

    Standpipes would require rather strong pumps, you’re talking about a head space of 90 meters of large gauge pipe, at around 130 PSI, to move perhaps 80 gallons per minute. That’s a mighty pump and motor, likely to induce structural damage just by the vibration of the entire pump unit!.

    ???
    A lot of homes in the USA are sitting on top of ca. 90 meter standpipes.
    They are called…wells.
    90 meters is on the deep side but by no means an unusual a depth for a well.
    These wells aren’t delivering 80 gallons a minute but the standard is 5 gallons a minute.

    While a large diameter standpipe with a large capacity might have its costs, we now know how much it costs to not have such a system.
    Between fire proofing construction, fire suppression systems, and fire detectors, there has to be a better system than just hoping (and praying!!!) that an old building with a lot of dried out oak doesn’t just burn someday.

    On the surface, the casing will be about 12 inches above the ground. Throughout New England, water is often found at about 300 feet, but wells for household use usually range from about 100 feet to 500 feet deep. There are some places, however, where a well can be more than 1,000 feet deep.Jul 29, 2014
    How Deep Does A Residential Water Well Need To Be — Skillings …
    https://www.skillingsandsons.com/…/how-deep-does-a-residential-water-well-need-to-be

  51. blf says

    Unlike the almost-concurrent fire at the Al Aqsa Mosque† — which was small and put out almost immediately — this fire is devastating. Priority at the moment is the structural integrity of what is standing (which seems to be much of stonework?). Whilst Notre Dame is used for brainwashing purposes by a particularly vile cult, it is also a symbolic emblem for much for France. I myself have passed by it (and its half(?)-scale replica in San Francisco) numerous times, but have never been inside or climbed the iconic bell towers — and now presume I probably never will (being seemingly too old to survive the reconstruction / reopening…). What’s annoying me at the moment — ignoring the nazi propoganda spouting absurd links and lunatic “theories” — is confusing the cult’s “relics” with artworks. Whilst the “relics” are museum-worthy — like confederate statues — I suspect they are getting far too much attention.

      † Technically, it was near the Marwani Prayer Room (or Solomon’s Stables), which “is located underneath the southeastern corner of Haram Al-Sharif, which contains both the Dome of the Rock and Al Aqsa Mosque.

  52. sirrod says

    A tragedy which cuts to the heart of France. The only people who could crow over this are obviously American, whose sole concept of History, Culture and Tradition is a bunch of cowboys chasing each other round and round in circles making Bangity-Bangity-Bang! noises…..and as for Rob @no.37 be careful what you wish for—the first to go would be the Good Ol’ U.S.A.

  53. raven says

    Notre Dame’s age, design fueled fire and foiled firefighters
    Associated Press
    Michael r. Sisak and Seth Borenstein
    Associated Press April 16, 2019

    Other landmark houses of worship have taken steps in recent years to reduce the risk of a fire.

    St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City, built in 1878, installed a sprinkler-like system during recent renovations and coated its wooden roof with fire retardant. The cathedral also goes through at least four fire inspections a year.

    Washington National Cathedral, built in 1912 with steel, brick and limestone construction that put it at less risk of a fast-moving fire, is installing sprinklers as part of a renovation spurred by damage from a 2011 earthquake.

    FYI.
    A new article about big fires in old buildings.
    I’m sure the new Notre Dame will have some added anti-fire features.

  54. raven says

    (for some reason this copy keeps disappearing into the spam filters.)
    Once again, a quote from a new article on fire proofing old buildings.

    “St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City, built in 1878, installed a sprinkler-like system during recent renovations and coated its wooden roof with fire retardant. The cathedral also goes through at least four fire inspections a year.

    Washington National Cathedral, built in 1912 with steel, brick and limestone construction that put it at less risk of a fast-moving fire, is installing sprinklers as part of a renovation spurred by damage from a 2011 earthquake.”

  55. blf says

    Currently on France24 is a special about the culture significance of Notre Dame. A guide / historian has just related an interesting story (not previously known to me): Paraphrasing, during the French Revolution, revolutionaries entered the building to dismantle the famous organ’s metal pipes and melt them down (for bullets, I presume). The organist of the time responded by playing La Marseillaise — which had to have been impressive despite the blood-soaked vile nature of its lyrics — and the militia agreed the organ could stay intact. (Current status on the organ is that whilst it has survived, there is known to be water damage.)

  56. Jazzlet says

    There was a fire at York Minster in 1985 that destroyed the roof of he south transept, part of the reason it didn’t get to the tower in that case was that the firefiighters intentionally dropped the burning wooden roof which more or less extinguished the fire. It was restored with new designs for the ceiling bosses by 1988.

    Most cathedrals in the UK have stone masons on staff to do running maintenance and there are others that can be brought in for bigger jobs. There are other buildings that require their expertise too, like the place I was staying last week which was renovated for holiday use. Countries that have a lot of old buildings do tend to end up with people skilled in the necessary crafts to maintain those buildings.

  57. blf says

    Indeed. Guests interviewed by France24 have been making the point that France has a surprisingly extensive expertise in the sorts of stonework and other crafts involved. The issue is perhaps the woodwork — not the skills so much as the literal wood — the sort of trees (in terms of size) do not now exist in France. At the moment, however, this is all (mostly) speculation; nothing says it must, or even should, be rebuilt / emulated as per its last reconstruction some 150 years ago. A radical rebuilding (like St Paul’s in London after the 1666 fire) is very unlikely, but a rebuilding of the 13th C “forest” which supported the leaden roof and has been mostly destroyed is less obvious…

  58. says

    Nitpick: That was in the vault at the Montfaucon gibbet (a hellish facility that apparently could accomodate 45 victims at once), and at least one is documented as having crumbled to dust.

  59. Akira MacKenzie says

    BAH! The world can do without it’s shitty, filth-covered, superstitious past.

    We don’t need to remember Notre Dame or any other piece of sub-human shit who believed in a god no matter how prettily they sang, painted or sculpted. Let that religious trash be forgotten.

    Fuck the past and the scum who live in it! The NOW and the FUTURE is all that matters. Let the past, and those animal shits who wallow in it, rot and be forgotten. Burn baby, burn!

    Oh, and fuck anyone who sympathizes with the Cat-licks and their precious building… present company INCLUDED!

  60. FossilFishy (NOBODY, and proud of it!) says

    blf. Apparently after the French Revolution many of the wood beams were replaced and at the same time they planted new oaks outside Versailles as a future source of timber specifically for Notre Dame. They’re still there though I haven’t seen anything that indicates who owns them now.

    Also, wood beams don’t lose structural integrity due to heat the way steel does. If they haven’t lost too much mass you can scrape off the char and rebuild using them.

    This happened to the building next to a former workplace of mine after it was gutted by fire. I took the insurance inspectors up onto our roof so they could access the burnt structure and see what the main beams were made of. They told me they were hoping for wood and were happy to find it.

  61. vucodlak says

    @ Akira MacKenzie, #77

    Perhaps you ought to see if Boko Haram or Daesh are accepting new members. I’m sure you could get past your minor theological differences and fit right in- they’re not big fans of history, art, or culture either, and you mostly hate the same people.

  62. FossilFishy (NOBODY, and proud of it!) says

    Fuck off Akira.

    No one is sympathising with the catholics. That building is a beautiful object in and of itself. It was designed and built by humans and can be appreciated as such irrespective of its use. Oh, and guess what? It isn’t owned by the catholic church. The French government owns it and the catholics just rent it.

    Many times you have demonstrated unwarranted asshole behaviour, this is another of those times.

  63. Porivil Sorrens says

    What a pudding-brained take. Lemme just go and take a sledge hammer to Gobekli Tepe, the Pyramids of Giza, and Chichen Itza, because oops they’re all religious monuments. Fuck history, being an edgelord internet atheist is more important.

  64. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    Ah, Akira. The kind of atheist that often makes me ashamed to associate with atheist groups online.

  65. blf says

    [Notre Dame] isn’t owned by the catholic church. The French government owns it and the catholics just rent it.

    Not quite. Whilst the state does own it (and all other pre-1905 cathedrals and churches), the cult does not — in perpetuity — pay to use them. However, the cult does have to pay some of the expenses, and cannot charge admission (which is why Notre Dame, except for the iconic bell towers, was free).

    Apparently after the French Revolution many of the wood beams were replaced and at the same time they planted new oaks outside Versailles as a future source of timber specifically for Notre Dame.

    The rebuilding wasn’t until the mid-19th C, largely due to Victor Hugo and The Hunchback of Notre Dame (which has jut become (again?) a bestseller in France, Victor Hugo’s Notre Dame novel tops bestseller list after fire: “Different editions of author’s 19th-century classic in five of top 10 slots on Amazon France”). Roughly half of the now-destroyed “forest” was replaced (the other half was still the 13th C original). Sometime in this general time-frame there were trees planted at Versailles, but I am unable to find any reliable confirmation they were Oaks or where planted for possible future use at Notre Dame (or anywhere). Some sources (one example) claim:

    Versailles town hall official and Versailles tourism official both said they had never heard any story about emergency cathedral-repairing trees in Versailles before tweets circulating on Twitter today.

    Château de Versailles confirms: “The rumour circulating on social media is false.” Says it has “no basis in historical fact”.

    Basically, citation needed, please. (Also, some pictures circulating do not appear to be of Oaks, and it would not surprise me if some aren’t anywheres near Versailles.)

  66. blf says

    The NOW and the FUTURE is all that matters. Let the past, and those animal shits who wallow in it, rot and be forgotten.

    Consistency requires one to stop using the English language — it is over 1000 years old — and to not post whilst drunk (alcohol has been known and consumed for multiple millennia) or deluded (people have always been stupid).

    How one will proceed in this grand & glorious NOW and the FUTURE without Mathematics — dating back to the ancient Greeks (Euclid’s The Elements) is a puzzle; e.g., without it, the computer & network one used to spew would not be possible. So please take ones hands away from the keyboard and dispose of that equipment, NOW. They do not fit into the plan.

    One should only wear synthetic fibres — wool, cotton, linen, &tc are again quite old and well-developed over time — which means lots more petroleum production. (At least that is fairly modern.) Good thinking there, let’s ensure a primary source of Carbon is increasingly exploited; we can’t be dealing with this Climate Change nonsense (albeit it is also fairly modern). Which is ironic (also an old concept), as it is then indeed a case of Burn baby, burn!

  67. chigau (違う) says

    The NOW and the FUTURE is all that matters.
    We have always been at war with Eastasia.

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