Sunday, 24 March 2013

The Bells, The Bells!

More briefly, this is the second post on religion, this time a bigger Church but a shorter post.  In Paris at the Cathedral of Notre Dame the towers now have a set of new bells replacing those of the past.

The history of all this is complicated but is covered in the section on Bells in the Wikipedia article “ Notre Dame de Paris”.  It is a tale of revolution, removals, rebuilding in part and “restoration”.  What you see or hear is not what was seen or heard in the long past.

The original bells were cast in tune, but how far time meant that this remained is not known.  What is, according to the reports, was that the more recent bells have not. 

The reason for this is unclear.  It may have been that a cut price job was done.  More likely is that in the France of the 19th Century the endemic corruption and inefficiency of the state made it very difficult to do anything much properly.

For most people Notre Dame means Quasimodo, the hunchback and Esmeralda the Gypsy girl he loved and tried to protect made famous in film.  Victor Hugo’s story, published in 1831 is set in 1482 during The Feast of Fools so refers to a particular period when France was then the major and richest power in Europe

Also, it is a time when the old bells were both major features of the sound world of Old Paris and still in tune.  They marked the passing of the time as well as being a call to faith.  The state was the monarchy and divinely blessed by The Church.

There was then a stratified society of an elite class, the aristocracy with below them a small middle and merchant class and then the peasantry and rest.  These could be troublesome, notably in Paris where the lowest could become the mob.

So who will the new bells in tune be representing?  Do they celebrate a new form of monarchical type and aristocratic rule, also European in scope in purpose?  Are they there to tell us what to believe and how and to mark our days?

Or are they to announce the rule of the mob and maybe the Quasimodo’s of our time?

1 comment:

  1. "Do they celebrate a new form of monarchical type and aristocratic rule, also European in scope in purpose?"

    I think they probably do, although we may still be allowed to eat cake.