Thursday, June 06, 2013
Italian Reflections (Cont.): The Platypus Travels Part II
Re-purposing. It's not as common in the 'States, but in Italy it's unavoidable. The Pantheon began as a pagan temple, became a Christian Church, then a tourist attraction, then the tomb of the Italian kings. Some of my students were unnerved by this. Was it fair to the pagans to turn their temple into a church? Even if nobody was using it, shouldn't it be preserved out of respect? I know that I found it sad to see a church in Venice converted into a museum with all its lamps out and its altars stripped.
What does it mean to re-purpose? Do buildings have fixed meanings? Is their any such thing as respecting architect's intent? The Christians who took over the Pantheon understood architect's intent -they simply disagreed with the intent of this particular architect for this particular building and retro-fitted it to suit their own convictions. Do moderns, who either deny that there is such a thing as architect's intent or deny that it matters, do the same thing when they turn a church into a museum? Are bricks just bricks? Do we have a right to them because we're living and their makers are dead?
If anyone asks you what you are doing, tell them that the Lord has need of it.