Open Thread: Notre Dame Has Suffered Before…

The Guardian‘s got a live feed here. Per that story, construction of the cathedral officially started in 1163, and wasn’t finished for almost 200 years. As I recall, it was a site of worship long before that — every time repairs have been done in the lower levels, prehistoric artifacts are unearthed. It’s a terrible loss, to France and the world, but the cathedral will be rebuilt again.

Not to go all Sally Sunshine, but even in the quick clips posted by Cheryl below, you can see there was work being done. My first thought was that some unfortunate worker took a shortcut with an acetylene torch… or, worse, ‘improperly disposed of smoking materials’, which seems to be the cause of half the multi-alarm fires in the Boston area.

Which won’t stop the rumors / conspiracy theories, of course…

178 replies
  1. 1

    I’ve seen tweets, but haven’t checked to confirm, saying that much of it was also rebuilt in the 1850’s

  2. 2
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    trump did it to get back at Macron for the arm wrestling loss.

  3. 3
    Tenar Arha says:

    So, I’m quite sad about this. I’m also reminded that cathedrals almost always died & were reborn by fire. (ETA Been thinking of this movie David Macaulay: Cathedral since I heard the news).

    The French know very well how to rebuild cathedrals, as Reims demonstrates.

    Here’s some slilver linings:

    Right now, feeling so SO grateful that only 4 days ago the 16 copper statues were taken down from the spire of #NotreDame.
    12 apostles + 4 evangelists (St Luke = steer, St Mark = lion, St John = eagle & St Matthew = angel)
    They, at least, are safe.


    I know this doesn’t help, but we have exquisite 3D laser maps of every detail of Notre Dame, thanks to the incredible work of @Vassar art historian Andrew Tallon. Prof Tallon passed away last November, but his work will be absolutely crucial

  4. 4
    Comrade Colette Collaboratrice says:

    @Major Major Major Major: Yes, by Eugène Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc, who gave it and many other French landmarks the look they have today, based on his own theories of gothic style and historical authenticity. “To restore a building is not to maintain it, repair it or remake it: it is to re-establish it in a complete state which may never have existed at any given moment.”

    It will be rebuilt, but this is heartbreaking. The interior wood carvings … I don’t even want to think about it.

  5. 5
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Major Major Major Major: I’m beginning to question your commitment to actually helping out around here…//

    More seriously, it had a significant refit completed in 1851. As I wrote in the previous thread, the steeple that went up and collapsed isn’t the original steeple. That was removed in an earlier restoration and this second one replaced it.

  6. 6
    hitchhiker says:

    I’m honestly kind of shaken at how personal & wretched this feels.

    Think I’m experiencing it as a metaphor for all that has been and is now being destroyed while I watch & shudder. The climate. The US government. Great Britain. The post-war world. The oceans.

    What a terrible day.

  7. 7
    MattF says:

    Paris was pretty much rebuit in the second half of the 19th century by Baron Haussmann. I don’t think Notre Dame was part of Haussmann’s project, but I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that renovations to the cathedral were done during that time.

  8. 8
    Comrade Colette Collaboratrice says:

    @hitchhiker: It really does feel like we are at the end of days, but the end will drag on and on and be horribly – OK, girl, just stop. Deep breaths.

  9. 9
    Anne Laurie says:

    Notes from a professional firefighter (click on either tweet for more):

  10. 10
    SiubhanDuinne says:


    There’s already a meme of Trump throwing a roll of paper towels at the fire.

  11. 11
    MagdaInBlack says:

    Like you, I have become fatigued from that feeling of ones heart sinking.
    We’re worn out from all the history being made.

  12. 12
    stan says:

    Trump: “Get those pompiers out of the way and send in firefighters!!!!”

  13. 13
    Betty Cracker says:

    I can’t believe Trump opened his fat yap on Twitter and advised the French to use “flying water tankers” and “act quickly.” Wait, of course I can believe he said that. But good God, what an embarrassing piece of shit he is, in every situation. This is a horrible and sad event, and the less we hear about it from that moron, the better. But you know he’ll pipe up again, probably with a preposterous offer to use his skills as a “builder” to help the French rebuild.

  14. 14
    Mary G says:

    I’m waiting for Twitler to ask if the hunchback is safe.

  15. 15
    Tenar Arha says:

    @Anne Laurie: According to a Father Frédéric, who’s been at ND for 2 years, the artworks & relics were saved. via a reporter from Paris Match

  16. 16

    @Adam L Silverman:

    I’m beginning to question your commitment to actually helping out around here…

    Took you long enough!

  17. 17
    currants says:

    @Comrade Colette Collaboratrice: I hear you. Me too. Can’t believe how often it’s necessary to remind myself to breathe….

  18. 18
    ruemara says:

    @Mary G: Girl…

  19. 19
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Major Major Major Major: I’ve had me doubts for a while, just now expressing them publicly.

  20. 20
    AliceBlue says:

    @stan: Thanks for the much-needed laugh!

  21. 21
    eemom says:

    Something must be wrong with me, because I’m not getting the emotional reaction everyone else seems to be having. Yes, it’s sad, but “heartbreaking”? It’s a building for fuck’s sake.

    Flame away. (too soon?)

  22. 22
    Adam L Silverman says:

    The Chef du Pompiers Paris just made a statement that the next 90 minutes are crucial to determining if the fire can be contained.

  23. 23
    Aleta says:

    Ec. Angelo Palacios @angelopalacios

    Replying to @patrickgaley
    Sign of the times. Notre Dame on fire. Reflects what France and Europe are fundamentally doing wrong.

    Reflects the brazen sociopathic beliefs that are running amok, more destructive than a consuming fire

  24. 24

    I feel like some piece of the world I know is burning down in front of me.

  25. 25
    catclub says:

    @Tenar Arha:

    I know this doesn’t help, but we have exquisite 3D laser maps of every detail of Notre Dame, thanks to the incredible work of @Vassar art historian Andrew Tallon.

    GIANT 3-d printer project

  26. 26
    catclub says:

    @eemom: no, me too. My first thought was ‘its had a pretty good run’

  27. 27
    MagdaInBlack says:

    @Betty Cracker:
    Betty, we know the stable genius always has an answer. Always.
    Always wrong, always stupid, but …always an answer 😏

  28. 28
    Mary G says:

    Une bonne nouvelle : toutes les œuvres d’art ont été sauvées. Le trésor de la cathédrale est intact, la couronne d’épines, les saints sacrements. #NOTRE_DAME— Nicolas Delesalle (@KoliaDelesalle) April 15, 2019

    Translated from French by Microsoft
    Good news: all the works of art were saved. The treasure of the Cathedral is intact, the Crown of thorns, the Holy sacraments. #NOTRE_DAME

  29. 29
    MattF says:

    @Aleta: I don’t think there’s a political point to be made here. So, maybe the EU should pass a regulation limiting the amount of oxygen in the atmosphere– but I suspect that would be unpopular.

  30. 30
    Cacti says:

    So glad I visited Paris and saw it last summer. But feeling very sad at the same time for what is lost.

    How dreadfully ironic that one of the restoration workers seems to have started the blaze.

  31. 31
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @Betty Cracker: @Betty Cracker:

    But you know he’ll pipe up again, probably with a preposterous offer to use his skills as a “builder” to help the French rebuild.

    Notre Don de Paris

  32. 32
    NotMax says:

    Not all that uncommon for errant sparks to smolder within a wall and then burst into serious flames sometime after. Happened to one wing of an apartment house a friend was the super of when work on the plumbing was underway. It was hours after the workers left for that day when the fire proper broke out.

  33. 33

    Boy, is somebody gonna get yelled at.

    Seriously though, when people start in about the French surrendering in WWII they don’t seem to consider that if they hadn’t, Notre Dame and most everything else in France would’ve been gone 80 years ago.

  34. 34
    NotMax says:


    Well, he probably had an aunt who attended a church, so he’s an expert.


  35. 35
    trollhattan says:

    @Betty Cracker:
    “Step lively you Frenchies!”

    Stephen Miller stole his phone briefly.

  36. 36
    trollhattan says:

    Filled with marble and oak dust.

  37. 37
  38. 38
    West of the Rockies says:


    Trump Cathedral?

  39. 39
    Kelly says:

    @hitchhiker: @Comrade Colette Collaboratrice: @MagdaInBlack:

    I’ve never been to Paris and I still feel a grievous loss. So much is falling apart. It seems a wooded place I love has burned every summer for the last 15 years. I often hike with a melancholy feeling that I may not see these trees again.

  40. 40

  41. 41
    trollhattan says:

    Trump’s to-do list:
    –Pledge a MILL-yun dollars to Notre Dame restoration.
    –String Pierre along for ten years without actually sending money.
    –Get branding deal that includes gold TRUMP sign, Helvetica Extra Bold ALL CAPs.
    –Keep Jared on it.

  42. 42
    Emily68 says:

    I’m an atheist and the only time I wished I believed in God was when I saw Notre Dame bathed in golden light at the end of the day. It was so awe inspiring and I thought that it might be a good thing to have so much faith that I would be able to imagine building such a building.

  43. 43
    sharl says:

    Like a couple/few others here, I find this sad but I’m not feeling personally devastated by the news. (I saw Notre Dame ~35 years ago, but remember nothing about the visit).

    Having said that, I found the following tweets interesting:

    I took a survey course of Catholic cathedral architecture taught by a remarkably cynical former priest and on the first day of class he was like “of cathedrals have multiple dates for different parts, burning down is an essential part of the life cycle of Catholic architecture.”— ghost wife (@eponawest) April 15, 2019

    If you’re freaking out about the Notre Dame right now I encourage you to imagine being a stone mason in provincial France who just finished a cathedral after four generations before you worked on it. Then it lights on fire and burns down so you gotta start again.— ghost wife (@eponawest) April 15, 2019

    Knowing the contemporary French though they’ll replace the dome with some heinous beaux arts revival glass and steel nonsense or they’ll literally take 100 years to meticulously put it back exactly how it was. It’s an either/or.— ghost wife (@eponawest) April 15, 2019

    I know nothing of the relevant issues in contemporary architecture or French culture/economics/policy to have an informed opinion on these tweets, but like I said: interesting, at least to me.

  44. 44
    NotMax says:

    Le sigh. Fifteen minute power outage during the last hour. Just did the clock reset dance.

  45. 45
    Quinerly says:

    French Government just issued a statement that firefighters might not be able to save her.

  46. 46
    🇺🇸🌎 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳🌷 says:

    @Cheryl Rofer:

    “All means are being used, except for water-bombing aircrafts which, if used, could lead to the collapse of the entire structure of the cathedral.”

    Hah! And they say the French don’t have a sense of humor. Eat shit, Trump

  47. 47
    Aleta says:

    @MagdaInBlack: grief piled on grief.

    @MattF: I’m not sure what the point of that tweet was: economic criticism on its face but #familyvalues was pointed; its sum is ugly.

  48. 48
    MisterForkbeard says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: Water-bombing could collapse the cathedral? Called it in the last thread, and I’m not even a hotshot real estate developer.

    Thank God I didn’t use my massive internet bullhorn to push that idiotic theory. Man, would that be embarrassing.

  49. 49
    Tenar Arha says:

    @eemom: And that’s okay. But if your question wasn’t rhetorical, it is definitely significant on multiple levels.

    I’m a person who is mostly usually agnostic, & there’s two architectural monuments that provided me with what I called religious experiences, the Parthenon & Chartres Cathedral. Notre Dame was never my favorite but it means something to me bc Paris was like “life goals” for me when I was in college.

    It’s a part of the history & fabric of Paris, & it’s significance as a symbol of that city cannot be undervalued. It’s actual architectural, historical, & archaeological value is also significant. For example

    The ceiling of Notre Dame contained 13,000 oak trees cut in the 12th century. An entire forest, essentially.

    Well, anyway you get the picture. We’ve been watching a symbol, a cultural heritage, a museum, and a church burn down. Multitudes of people contain multitudes (ETA) of reactions

  50. 50
    Seanly says:

    What a terrible tragedy. I studied Notre Dame in Architectural History (this was a survey class so not in-depth) and got to see it when I was in Paris in the 90’s. Absolutely huge inside there. I saw that the copper statues atop the spire were actually removed a few days ago as part of the restoration – I do hope the other relics and treasures inside were also saved.
    I am an atheist, but I can appreciate the expression of faith and source of pride of the architects and builders that the cathedral represents. My heart goes out to Paris and to Catholics.

  51. 51
    Anonymous At Work says:

    My money’s on solvent and bad wiring or grounding. Restoration and renovations like this involve flammable liquids.

  52. 52
    eemom says:

    AHA. Look at Cole’s tweet about Aleppo. He is SO my soulmate.

    My heart breaks for the suffering of living creatures, not fucking objects.

  53. 53
    Cacti says:

    Wish I was joking about this, but the following tweet was issued for the benefit of flyover country:

    Notre Dame (@NotreDame): A clarification: A fire is currently burning @notredameparis, not the University of Notre Dame. Our prayers are with all those involved.

  54. 54
    piratedan says:

    @eemom: depends on how you look at it…

    Is the White House, just a building? The Lincoln Memorial?

    I think for many folks Notre Dame is also a symbol, in addition to being a building and a house of worship. One, for its place in French History and secondly as a living museum of classical Western Civilization (if there is such a thing) for the artistry of the building itself and those items that were stored (and now supposedly saved) within.

    Hence the reactions, for some people there’s a very real resonance, obviously not universal.

  55. 55
    Betty Cracker says:

  56. 56
    FlyingToaster (Tablet) says:

    @Anonymous At Work: Hell, it could have been a nailed boot sparking on a metal ladder, lighting a patch of drying solvent.

  57. 57
    mrmoshpotato says:

    @Mary G:

    I’m waiting for Twitler to ask if the hunchback is safe.

    You assume the moron has any idea who that is.

    “Hunchback? He throws the soccer ball, right? Tom Brady is my favorite hunchback!”

  58. 58
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    I don’t feel like going through his Twitter archives to find out, but I’m trying to remember if Trump tweeted anything — anything at all — about the three black churches in Louisiana that were burned a few weeks ago. I’m guessing the answer is no.

  59. 59
    rk says:



    s the White House, just a building?

    If the White House burned down with Donald Trump in it, I will mourn the loss of the White house.

  60. 60
    Cacti says:


    So you grieve when a fly gets swatted, a cockroach gets squashed, or a mosquito gets slapped?

    Or are your superior emotions reserved just for fuzzy wuzzy animals that speak more to your anthropomorphic preferences?

  61. 61
    mrmoshpotato says:


    Just did the clock reset dance.

    Pics or it didn’t happen.

  62. 62
    different-church-lady says:


  63. 63

  64. 64
    NotMax says:


    “Quasimodo? Hell, at these prices we deserve the full modo.”


  65. 65
    Mnemosyne says:


    I’m sad, but relieved that it sounds like the portable and irreplaceable objects have been saved.

    The walls and windows can be rebuilt, but tapestries and paintings can be lost forever, so they rightly prioritized saving those over saving the building at the cost of losing irreplaceable cultural artworks.

    FWIW, I would also be sad if, say, MOMA or the Art Institute of Chicago burned down even if all of the artwork was saved.

  66. 66
    different-church-lady says:

    @eemom: Your local Walmart: just a building. Notre Dame: just a building.

    If we still have Walmarts in 800 years, and they go out of business, will we miss them?

  67. 67
    Gravenstone says:


    Keep Bury Jared on under it

    I propose an improvement to your last point.

  68. 68
    MisterForkbeard says:

    @Betty Cracker: Going to admit I wasn’t emotional about this at all until I saw this. Wow. :(

  69. 69
    NotMax says:


    Tempus frug-it.


  70. 70
    different-church-lady says:


    Is the White House, just a building?

    On that we have some history to look to.

  71. 71
    PJ says:

    @eemom: certainly buildings can be rebuilt, but they are not the same. Works of art – in this case, the work of thousands of people over centuries – cannot be replaced. No doubt it meant as little to you when the Taliban blew up the giant carvings of Buddha in Afghanistan, or when ISIS was destroying classical temples in Syria. But this patrimony – the physical legacy of our cultures – gives many people joy and meaning. Hundreds of thousands of people every day visit museums, mosques, churches, temples, etc., because they contain the expression of human wonder. It’s no small thing to lose.

  72. 72
    JR says:

    Just a note, the French never rebuilt the Tuilieries Palace. To be fair, they were the ones that destroyed it.

  73. 73
    different-church-lady says:


    …or they’ll literally take 100 years to meticulously put it back exactly how it was.

    That would be incredibly cool. It would be the most historically authentic process possible — a museum made out of process!

  74. 74
    PJ says:

    @Mnemosyne: the stained glass windows were what I remember most about Notre Dame.

  75. 75
    Mnemosyne says:


    The burning of DC was kind of a public relations disaster for England. The Prince Regent — who spent millions of pounds on architecture for his palaces — was horrified by the waste, particularly the Library of Congress (much of which had fortunately been smuggled to safety before the fires were set).


    It sounds as though they were forced to triage the artworks and were able to save most of what was portable. It actually would have been worse to save the building but lose the paintings and tapestries to smoke and water damage.

  76. 76
    Mnemosyne says:


    Those windows were actually full restorations from about 100 years ago because the medieval originals had been lost long before. They can be restored again.

  77. 77
    Spanky says:

    @different-church-lady: That’s not sucking, that’s gravity.

  78. 78
    The Dangerman says:

    I read someplace that the Getty in LA has VERY good active fire protection (like, state of the art, not a penny spared kinda protection); surprised the Cathedral did not.

    Yeah, somebody fucked up with a torch or similar and once something that old gets that involved, you might as well just break out the Weiners and the Smores, it’s basically impossible to stop (although I saw Trump offered his fire expertise … asshole).

  79. 79
  80. 80
    PJ says:

    @Mnemosyne: and I’m grateful for whatever was saved. But people who are not moved by art or architecture are like people for whom food is just fuel, and a Big Mac is the same to them as a meal at a good restaurant. I can understand it intellectually, but for me it’s like living without one of your senses.

  81. 81
    West of the Rockies says:


    The Great Pyramid is just a pile of rocks?//

  82. 82
    Mnemosyne says:


    If you’re into that sort of thing, one of our local museums is doing a public restoration of the most famous painting in their collection, “Blue Boy,” and has a lot of videos and other documentation available on their website:

  83. 83
    RandomMonster says:

    Clearly the French should just rake more.

  84. 84
    Anne Laurie says:

  85. 85
    different-church-lady says:

    @Mnemosyne: I am definitely into that sort of thing. Thanks.

  86. 86
    Matt says:

    Let us pause to compare Western and Japanese ideas on the life cycle of temples.

  87. 87
    Steve in the ATL says:

    @Mary G:

    Translated from French by Microsoft
    Good news: all the works of art were saved. The treasure of the Cathedral is intact, the Crown of thorns, the Holy sacraments. #NOTRE_DAME

    your translator didn’t finish the job:


  88. 88
    piratedan says:

    @West of the Rockies: just stacked ineffeciently, yah…///

  89. 89
    Aleta says:

    Is it Cambridge ? Oxford ? that has a college chapel with a boat ceiling. They tell a story about a time when the 300-year-old beams of the chapel had become beetle-y. There was despair at how they could ever replace them. The college forester was consulted, and he knew about or found a record telling where the replacement trees for the chapel roof had been planted 300 years ago. The information had been passed down from each college forester to the next for all those years.

  90. 90

    @Cheryl Rofer: Trump couldn’t just express shock and sympathy for Paris’s loss. He immediately swung into offering unsolicited advice because only he knows anything.

  91. 91

  92. 92
    J R in WV says:

    AnnieLauire, check your email.

    I’m totally secular, but this tragic fire hit me surprisingly hard. The history and centuries of love and adoration and worship add up to a cultural icon that we will not live to see rebuilt. Though it will be rebuilt.

    We visited Notre Dame one pretty fall afternoon in 2013 and so saw it as it was then, no scaffolding, amazing archeological site under their parking deck, etc. We actually visited several churches and cathedrals in Spain and France during a tour of ancient cave paintings in that area.

  93. 93
    Mnemosyne says:

    @The Dangerman:

    The previous thread had a link to some commentary by a professional firefighter. Short version, Notre Dame is basically a firefighter’s worst nightmare: huge open spaces, high ceilings, and lots of old, dry wood. There’s no way to put any kind of useful fire suppression system in there, because sprinklers and inert gases won’t work in large spaces.

    Pretty much any museum or archive facility built in the last 30 years or so will have lots of redundant fire suppression systems with fire doors, sprinklers, inert gas, less-flammable building materials, etc.

    But an ancient open space like that? The fire crews did as much as they could while they saved the portable artwork on the inside because there wasn’t much choice once the fire started on the roof.

  94. 94

    This is Notre Dame before the fire. You can see the roofs that have now caved in, the spire in the center. Gives you some idea of how it’s burning.

  95. 95
    Mary G says:

    Notre Dame is one of the world’s great treasures, and we’re thinking of the people of France in your time of grief. It’s in our nature to mourn when we see history lost – but it’s also in our nature to rebuild for tomorrow, as strong as we can.— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) April 15, 2019

  96. 96
    JPL says:

    I have been glued to France 24 all day. For some odd reason it’s only available in the Atlanta area over the airwaves. Sometimes not having cable helps. You can stream it though.

  97. 97
    different-church-lady says:

    @Cheryl Rofer As far as being our face to the world, I think we should just start considering him President De Facto.

  98. 98
    Steve in the ATL says:


    the stained glass windows were what I remember most about Notre Dame.

    Une autre bonne nouvelle: we still have Chartres!

  99. 99
    Tenar Arha says:

    I forgot about this too. Notre Dame as a geographical marker

    Notre Dame is the heart of Paris. Not the Eiffel Tower, but Notre Dame.

    Outside her 850-years-old facade is a marker known as Point Zero. It’s the point from which everything in France is measured.

    Victor Hugo’s novel would enshrine the cathedral’s importance to the city. [embedded photo of the marker]

  100. 100
    NotMax says:


    Wait, you mean it’s not a silo?


  101. 101
    JPL says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: I miss him so much.

  102. 102

    @Mnemosyne: The Huntington, you say, I think I’ve heard of them.

  103. 103
    jl says:

    @Dorothy A. Winsor: Trump seems to be going into radio shock jock mode on everything, and telling his flunkies to act the same way.

    Glad the art was saved. And the religious relics, for those who value them.

  104. 104
    Miss Bianca says:

    @Mary G:

    I’m waiting for Twitler to ask if the hunchback is safe.

    Damn it, I can’t believe you got me to laugh at something about Notre Dame burning down. I too visited when I was in Paris (thirty years ago now), and like a lot of others here I can’t believe how personal and heartbreaking this feels. I can’t even imagine how it must feel to les Parisiens.

  105. 105
    lamh36 says:


    8m8 minutes ago
    Just asked Pence’s spokeswoman if he has any comment on the La. churches being burned. She gave this statement, attributed to her:

    ETA: As someone said…this is some “all churches matter” bullshit…smh..

  106. 106
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @SiubhanDuinne: He did not. Nor about the US service members killed in Afghanistan last week. Nor those killed the week before in Syria.

  107. 107
    piratedan says:

    @NotMax: as arbiter of all things architecturally named, its not even a Pisa

  108. 108
    Baud says:

    @Cheryl Rofer:

    The rightful current president.

    Hillary Clinton




    My heart goes out to Paris. Notre Dame is a symbol of our ability as human beings to unite for a higher purpose—to build breathtaking spaces for worship that no one person could have built on their own. I wish France strength and shared purpose as they grieve and rebuild.

    Of course, any one of our slew of candidates would do better than the current set of yahoos we have.

  109. 109
    bemused senior says:

    @lamh36: Thanks for that. You always find great things to share.

  110. 110

    OT: One of my pics is pretty popular over at Flickr(over 14k views). Y’all got to see it first(if you didn’t, here it is).

  111. 111

    Here’s a photo from a police drone. Looks pretty devastated.

  112. 112
    Miss Bianca says:

    @lamh36: Oh, God, I remember that passage.

  113. 113
    Aleta says:

    @Matt: You mean like the Shinto shrine at Ise? It’s said that the complete rebuilding of it every few decades keeps the old techniques of wood carpentry from dying out. (I believe, not sure, some of the techniques are also ancient and sacred for Shinto construction.)

    It’s said that traditional wood houses in Japan were not built with expectation they would last too long, because earthquakes and the fires they started and typhoons and their mudslides came so frequently. Japanese writers have said that this instability influenced design and techniques, and how materials are used. And that it also influenced the idea (in traditional arts and pastimes) of seeing beauty in impermanence and flaws.

  114. 114
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    Not in the least surprised.

  115. 115
    Mnemosyne says:


    Here’s a photo of the Crown of Thorns. Religious object, historical artifact, or work of art?

  116. 116
    Sean says:

    @Tenar Arha: ND is far from my favourite Gothic cathedral as well but the location is what makes it. I’m in Paris now and my wife and kids were inside earlier today so it is a bit surreal. It will be rebuilt not quite as it was but still hopefully tol remain a part of the urban fabric in which it rests.

  117. 117
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @lamh36: His spokesman provided an all churches matter response.

  118. 118
    MagdaInBlack says:

    I realize that it is we who invest objects with meaning. This is an object invested with 900 + years of cultural, historical, and sacred meaning.
    That is why people are reacting as they are, and one should not be surprised.

  119. 119
    different-church-lady says:

    @Mnemosyne: Not mutually exclusive.

  120. 120
    Mnemosyne says:


    The burning of the Black churches is different, because that was done out of hatred and bigotry.

    Sad as it is, Notre Dame burning is just bad luck.

  121. 121
    jl says:

    @Mnemosyne: Thanks for photo. I just meant to distinguish the two different sentiments and values.

  122. 122
    JPL says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: This tweet was in the comments.. now it’s time for a tissue.

    You came to visit the cathedral that time and the Notre Dame choir sang for you and your family during your visit. I was part of that choir and I still cherish that moment. Tonight more than ever. Thank you.

  123. 123
    lamh36 says:

    The spire ruined in the Notre Dame fire contained artifacts considered sacred to Roman Catholics, including a relic believed to be from Jesus Christ’s crown of thorns.

  124. 124
    Kelly says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: It’s like looking down into a concrete campfire ring.

  125. 125
    mrmoshpotato says:

    @NotMax: You set the clocks, then threw them?

    Stove must’ve been a chore.

  126. 126
    Aleta says:

    Hannah Groch-Begley @grouchybagels
    I know this doesn’t help, but we have exquisite 3D laser maps of every detail of Notre Dame, thanks to the incredible work of @Vassar art historian Andrew Tallon. Prof Tallon passed away last November, but his work will be absolutely crucial

  127. 127
    Mnemosyne says:


    Exactly my point. 👍 Would jl say that the destruction of historic Buddhist statues by the Taliban was no big deal because they were also religious objects and therefore only have value for people who belong to that specific religion?

  128. 128

    The conspiracy mongers are at work. Not gonna link.

  129. 129
    Aleta says:

    I’ve been to a VR-like representation of the Sistine Chapel on the internet. And a few other ones. I wonder if there is one for ND on the web.

  130. 130

    And my guess is that it’s gone now.

  131. 131
    different-church-lady says:

    @Mnemosyne: I think it’s difficult for people to imagine themselves into a historical mindset before money was the only thing we worshiped.

  132. 132
    Immanentize says:

    Has anyone yet blamed the Lannisters?

    I love Note Dame, in part because I love Paris. But somehow this happening now feels more connected to the world at this moment. Like it’s an attack, not an accident.

  133. 133
    lamh36 says:

    Some happier/good news.

    Aretha Franklin Makes History With Posthumous Pulitzer Prize via @ESSENCE

    The singer, who passed away back in August at the age of 76, was awarded a Pulitzer Prize Special Citation on Monday for her contributions to art and culture—something you can get a glimpse of in the new documentary Amazing Grace.

  134. 134

  135. 135
    mrmoshpotato says:

    @🐾BillinGlendaleCA: Very nice Bill! Great long exposure.

  136. 136
    🇺🇸🌎 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳🌷 says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    Why can’t these people say something decent, for once? All they literally had to say is that this is a shame and a tragedy. That’s it.

  137. 137
    Aleta says:

    Please dog strike down any christians (like my younger sis) who might be tempted to interpret this as sat an’s warfare with the true believers.

  138. 138
    Steve in the ATL says:

    @🇺🇸🌎 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳🌷:

    Why can’t these people say something decent, for once?

    Rhetorical question, I assume

  139. 139
    Aleta says:

    @🐾BillinGlendaleCA: Thanks ! I love that one. You artist you.

  140. 140
    Brachiator says:

    The #NotreDame is still burning. And the fire looks way worse from above with a drone than from the ground. (Journalist @JulieBrafman was able to photograph the drone-feed of the French police.)

    I have a double feeling about this. Pain that the building is on fire; and some awe and respect for the technological innovation that gave us drones to provide these amazing pictures.

  141. 141
    Steve in the ATL says:

    @Aleta: more likely it’s the fault of Henry VIII, John Calvin, and other fomentors of anti-catholic Protestantism

  142. 142
    Mnemosyne says:


    Mm. That reporting is contrary to what Notre Dame officials are saying. They’re saying that the Crown of Thorns and other important objects were saved.

  143. 143
    Miss Bianca says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: Are we surprised? No, no we are not. Not getting out of the boat.

  144. 144

    @Aleta: Thanks.

    ETA: Baud still likes it without the Poles.

  145. 145
    Comrade Colette Collaboratrice says:

    @Mnemosyne: Sadly, no. Much of the great north rose window was original 13thC glass, and parts of the south and west roses were, too. It’s an irreplaceable loss. Even the best reproductions are not the same.

  146. 146
    Mnemosyne says:


    Don’t let yourself fall into a conspiracy mindset. Every indication so far is that it was an accident caused by the restoration crew. If nothing else, how do you picture a saboteur setting a fire in the same location where the crew was working without being noticed?

  147. 147
    sharl says:

    Never miss an opportunity to exploit a crisis, or something…

    White nationalist types and their allies – many of whom apparently live on the dark side of my home planet, Realm of the Aesthetics-Challenged – are stirring to life with exhibitions of performative concern. “Intellectual” Ben Shapiro has lamented the damage the fire has done to this historical Judeo-Christian institution. Uh yeah, about that “Judeo” bit:

    Each year, millions flock to admire and photograph its flying buttresses and statuary, yet few take any real notice of two prominent female statues on either side of the main entrance. The one on the left is dressed in fine clothing and bathed in light, while the one on the right is disheveled, with a large snake draped over her eyes like a blindfold.

    The statues, known as Ecclesia and Sinagoga, respectively, and generally found in juxtaposition, are a common motif in medieval art and represent the Christian theological concept known as supercessionism, whereby the Church is triumphant and the Synagogue defeated.

    (found via tweet by Respectable Lawyer).

    Expecting more such elevated discourse in the coming days.

    On a more positive note, while the damage is truly awful, it may not be as bad as it has appeared from aerial photos; here’s hoping:

    #BREAKING Notre-Dame's main structure is "saved and preserved" after fire, says Paris fire official— AFP news agency (@AFP) April 15, 2019

  148. 148
    jl says:

    @Mnemosyne: They are huge deals for different people for different reasons. For some people, big deals for both reasons, or several reasons: artistic value, historical significance, religious belief. That was all I meant.

  149. 149
    MomSense says:

    @Tenar Arha:

    Thank the gods. I’m just so sad. I know that it’s only a building but people have a relationship with that place. When I was there (living briefly nearby), I saw the same people every day. They practice a devotional faith that is tied to that place, sometimes to a particular statue of a saint. They go day after day to light candles and pray, to remember loved ones. I just cannot cope with this sadness.

  150. 150
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Comrade Colette Collaboratrice:

    I keep seeing people saying that the glass “melted,” but I’m not sure that will turn out to be accurate. Lead — what they use to put the stained glass together — melts at only 650 degrees F while glass doesn’t start to get pliable until around 1200 degrees F, so it seems likely to this layperson that the lead gave way long before the glass would have a chance to melt.

    I am not giving up hope yet that at least some of the original glass can be salvaged and re-incorporated into the new window.

    I am sad about what was lost, but much was also saved from the flames and survived.

  151. 151
    Miss Bianca says:

    @sharl: Oh, I do hope the main structure is saved.

  152. 152
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    One fireman is reported seriously injured, and I do hope he recovers fully and quickly — but it really seems kind of miraculous that there are no other human injuries or casualties in a blaze this massive. Whoever was responsible for evacuating the Cathedral did a fine job.

  153. 153
    🇺🇸🌎 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳🌷 says:

    @Steve in the ATL:
    It is. I suspect Macron’s opposition to Trump has something to with it as well. The GOP is a cult of personality. They expect everyone else to respect America’s laws/interests, but feel they can do whatever they want to the World and be worshipped for it. They confuse respect with fear.

    At it’s core, Republican arrogance stems from entitlement. I used to say this is from the US becoming a super power. After all, practically every great power has engaged in similar behavior in the past. It’s the nature of power. However, the US has always taken from others throughout it’s entire history. Becoming the big kid on the block probably only exacerbated it.

    Maybe, on some level, the GOP knows the world hates them.

  154. 154
    MattF says:

    @sharl: Shapiro is, apparently, an idiot. There’s a long and well-documented history of Jews in Paris– it’s repetitive, and not in a good sense.

  155. 155

    They’re using the drones to show them where they need to be working on the fire.

  156. 156
    🇺🇸🌎 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳🌷 says:

    It was an inside job! /s

  157. 157
    Spanky says:

    @Mnemosyne: NBC is never wrong.

  158. 158
    Aleta says:

    @Anne Laurie:
    in that thread is this:

    Don Ramon del Corazon Sagrado de la Mancha @vf3975
    Cultural preservation is one of the mainstays of manifestos across the European nationalist/populist spectrum. Le Pen had a state-sponsored proposal regarding its financing and execution, and Macron has tried to launch proposals regarding the subject in order to counter…

    Don Ramon del Corazon Sagrado de la Mancha
    ‏… criticisms of cultural negligence.
    1:24 PM – 15 Apr 2019

    I wonder if this is related to that thread from someone in S America who mentioned #familyvalues and said this fire = what’s wrong with France and Europe

  159. 159
    Tenar Arha says:

    Good thread by CZ Edwards on why dumping tons of water on the building was a bad idea

    Mortar is the key to stone buildings, and while it’s a form of cement, it’s fragile. (I researched this. And we learned a lot from The Blitz.)

    The mortar originally used to build Notre Dame was water, sand and lime. Which isn’t waterproof. It required continual upkeep.

  160. 160
    Brachiator says:

    @Tenar Arha:

    Victor Hugo’s novel would enshrine the cathedral’s importance to the city.

    The original title to the novel is deceptively simple and to the point. Notre-Dame de Paris. But it has a double meaning: it refers to Notre Dame Cathedral, on which the story is centered, and Esmeralda, the novel’s main character who is “our lady of Paris” and the center of the human drama within the story.

    And the Wiki tells us that Hugo was trying to revive interest in gothic architecture and historical buildings:

    Victor Hugo began writing Notre-Dame de Paris in 1829, largely to make his contemporaries more aware of the value of the Gothic architecture, which was neglected and often destroyed to be replaced by new buildings or defaced by replacement of parts of buildings in a newer style. For instance, the medieval stained glass panels of Notre-Dame de Paris had been replaced by white glass to let more light into the church. This explains the large descriptive sections of the book, which far exceed the requirements of the story

  161. 161
    Mnemosyne says:


    Wait, I may have even better news — I was misreading temperature conversions between F and C and glass doesn’t melt until 1200 degrees C, which is more like 2250 degrees F.

    Don’t give up hope for the windows. More of the glass may be salvageable than people are currently assuming.

  162. 162
    Gelfling 545 says:

    On the Monday before Easter in 2016, right about this time, my granddaughter and I were getting ready to go to a program of medieval sacred music at Notre Dame. It is a treasured memory and I’m so glad she got to see it before this tragedy.

  163. 163
    Comrade Colette Collaboratrice says:

    @lamh36: No way were the “crown of thorns,” etc. kept in the spire. They were kept in the (mostly subterranean) treasury, and were saved. Not that a ragged bundle of medieval weeds, sold to a credulous king by the 13thC equivalent of a used-car huckster, should be high on the list of stuff to save, but it was anyway.

  164. 164
    Fair Economist says:


    Mm. That reporting is contrary to what Notre Dame officials are saying. They’re saying that the Crown of Thorns and other important objects were saved.

    First news, disasters, etc., you know the drill.

    That said, since the spire was undergoing reconstruction the relics might well have been elsewhere.

  165. 165
    Aleta says:

    DANGEROUS links —
    A friend sent me a Nat’l Geo page about the virtual rendition of Notre Dame.
    I didn’t open any links on the page myself. But he just emailed to say that the links on it “download BUNCHES of spurious stuff… bad bad … I had to reboot to stop them.”

  166. 166
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @🇺🇸🌎 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳🌷: Because the churches in Louisiana were those of African American congregations. And that makes them suspect for people like the Vice President.

  167. 167
    Comrade Colette Collaboratrice says:

    @Fair Economist: I repeat: nothing was kept in the spire itself. That would be like keeping your important papers tied to the weathervane on top of your house. I’m guessing someone somewhere conflated the spire with the building as a whole, and the resulting garble is spreading rapidly.

  168. 168
    karen marie says:

    @Aleta: Murdoch bought NatGeo in 2015, so I’m not surprised.

  169. 169
    PJ says:

    @Mnemosyne: The Guardian indicated that the roseate windows were blown out by the heat: (see the 16:58 update). If this is the case, I wonder how much glass would survive a fall of many stories.

  170. 170
    Aleta says:

    @Aleta: Re the bad links on the
    the Nat Geo page :
    “The links were to see some of the virtual panoramas. It said flash was out of date and then started downloading “Mac Clean Pro” and some Coupon thing and various popup windows that wouldn’t quit… pain in the butt”

    @karen marie: I didn’t know that … what a shame.

  171. 171
    Mnemosyne says:


    I’m still a bit skeptical, but I am by no means an expert in either firefighting or stained glass.

    I suspect that the Guardian reporter is also not an expert and possibly repeated a garbled or incorrect report. Having a large stained glass window fall out of the wall and scatter widely because the leading that supported it gave way could look like an “explosion” from a distance away.

    I’m thinking about the time my old RAV-4 got rear-ended and the rear window glass fell straight out and down, not in. Not what I expected at all, and more than a little startling.

  172. 172
    Ksmiami says:

    @Cacti: because people in flyover country are stupid and proudly ignorant. They keep providing evidence that this is the case.

  173. 173
    Comrade Colette Collaboratrice says:

    @Ksmiami: Eh, context counts for a lot. If you lived in a place where Notre Dame usually meant the university in Indiana, that would probably be your first thought.

    I mentioned to two of my Francophone coworkers today that Notre Dame was on fire, and they said “Notre Dame in Montreal?!?” They’re from Quebec.

  174. 174
    Mnemosyne says:


    Found the reference — the Guardian says that it’s an unconfirmed report, so I still suspect that bystanders saw the window(s) fall after the leading failed and misinterpreted the cause:

    There are unconfirmed reports that Notre Dame’s three medieval rose windows – la rosace ouest (1225) la rosace nord (1250) la rosace sud (1250) – have exploded in the intense heat.

    Glass is a very weird material and can be more resilient than people realize, especially when it’s been heated and is more pliable, so I’m maintaining my optimism.

  175. 175
    Anotherlurker says:

    I morn for the loss of a beautiful piece of engineering. I cheer for the salvation of precious works of art.
    As an atheist I have to wonder what course civilization would have taken if Xtianity had not schemed, murdered and usurped itself into the position it now occupies.
    This would be a fascinating subject of speculative, alternative historical fiction.
    I will leave such things to the Jackels who are more brilliant and talented than myself.

  176. 176
    sharl says:

    @Anotherlurker: I think that there are entire schools/departments/classes/institutions where such questions serve as the basis for their missions. Having said that (and fwiw as an atheist myself), I’ve pondered these questions myself.

    One night long ago – at least in Internet Era time – I asked over in Atrios’ comments if any of the folks with liberal arts backgrounds knew of any scholarship that was in search of an equivalent version of the Unified Field Theory, but for explaining human nature.

    Some time later I decided that my question was a bit silly: I think I had basically described the fields of Theology & Ethics (and throw Philosophy in there somewhere too, I suppose). But that evening it helped spark a wonderful discussion, especially when commenter OGAB* suggested The Golden Bough, which I’d never heard of and still have yet to read. {Even back in the day, Haloscan** comment pages were filled with shit more often than not. But there were occasional flecks of gold to be found in all the dung, and on rare occasions the discussions could be damn-near informative, even to the point of being praiseworthy, if not magical.}

    There’s a fair chance a discussion such as what you’re suggesting would devolve into a flame war. Relatedly, it’s such a huge topic, with pathways & tunnels extending every which way, it might devolve into a huge mess. But seems like a comment section is as good a place as any to try it, if you have a mind to.

    *Olaf Glad and Big, a wonderful person who is no longer with us. Occasionally I wish I believed in a Heaven so I could be assured that people like that guy could exist beyond their corporeal existences.

    **Fuck to the corporation that bought Haloscan and promptly deleted its archives. In all the shit posted there, I strongly believe there were things worthy of scholarly research.

  177. 177
    sharl says:

    @Anotherlurker: In my previous comment I totally neglected the aspect of your question regarding “speculative, alternative historical fiction.” I’m the wrong guy to answer that, though I know such fiction exists. I’m sure the authors who post here could address that and provide some examples.

  178. 178
    Amir Khalid says:

    Yes, too soon. Also too, this is not some cookie-cutter office tower we’re talking about here.

Comments are closed.