|Number 46, Februrary 2010||21.000 copies|
1. 80TH BIRTHDAY JOAN BASSEGODA NONELL (1930-2010)
Well Lord, it is well-known that when writers grow old and their minds fail to provide them with full physical and intellectual fluency, they veer towards their personal memoirs, either writing down their memories or attempting to edit a selection of articles published throughout their lives.
On the eve of his eightieth birthday, the author of this text is most fully in the circumstances described. And while he does not feel inclined to outline some memories, in the hope of avoiding a leading role, he deems if right to publish a few texts about the life and work of Gaudí, who, over the course of half a century, he has studied and commented upon in two dozen books and close to a thousand articles.
The very act of simultaneously fulfilling the role of writer, professor and acting architect, has served him well in the avoidance of ill-fated specialisation, all the while he spent time researching materials as diverse as archaeology, the restoration of monuments and architectural construction, he also wrote on matters of history, art and even gardening, although his profound admiration for the person, work and sentiment of Gaudí, has been the crowning glory of his view on the world.
Given that we are not dealing with memoirs, I will bring to a close this sort of justification, as after duly considering his art and his virtue, I have understood that the work and thoughts of Gaudí, that burst of pure art, must be studied from a technical, historical and aesthetic viewpoint but, above all, one must feel the emotion of its message and the reverberating beat of the cascade of ingenuity, spirituality and solace experienced when immersing oneself in the simple and yet grandiose world of Antón Gaudí Cornet.
Barcelona, Tuesday 9th of February 2010
Festivity of Saint Apolonia.
THE CHARISMA OF GAUDÍ
By charisma we understand the capacity of certain people to influence or attract the esteem of others, easily prompting the attention and admiration of those who surround him or her, thanks to a magnetic quality of personality or appearance.
To others, the charismatic person is considered to be an individual of exceptional powers.
There is not the slightest doubt that Gaudí presented clear forms of charisma, which were admired by his peers, who considered them of divine origin and decidedly exemplary.
Gaudí himself knew he had this charisma, but he did not think of it is a personal merit, but rather a gift from God, whom he should constantly thank for such a gift.
Suffice it to recall the opinions of those who surrounded him, expressing their endless admiration for the architect. Lluís Bonet Garí became visibly emotional when remembering the maestro or José Bayó Font cried when remembering that Gaudí told him he was a good bricklayer, stating that this was the most valuable distinction he had ever received.
Added to this ability to admire the people around him was his particular way of producing architecture, inspired as he was by the shapes of Nature, which are essentially functional and simple.
However, many Gaudí scholars, incapable of understanding the relentless functionality of Nature and the diaphanous thinking of Gaudí, have tried to explain his architecture through philosophy, legend or simply scientific reasoning, which can be most rigorous, but often lacking in logic.
These types of interpretation were begun in 1982 by the writer Joan Llarch in his “Magical biography of Gaudí”, published by Plaza & Janés, S.L.
In the doctoral thesis of Eduardo Rojo (1985) and subsequent work, interpretations were proffered based on certain details which gave at the very least very bizarre versions of Gaudí’s work.
Later on, in 1997 and 1998, José Mª Carandell, in his books on the Park Güell and the Sagrada Familia of Triangle Postals, extended his interpretation of Gaudí’s work through his supposed links with freemasonry.
Another gratuitous yet very widespread version was the imagined consumption of hallucinogens on the part of the architect.
Given that the proliferation of books on Gaudí increased as a result of the 150th anniversary of his birth in 2002, the theories of these and other authors have been reiterated until today, thereby creating a false Gaudí, which must be dismantled.
Joan Llarch wrote his book in the shape of a novel, based on the writings of all previous biographers, in which, through strange convolutions of intellectual reasoning, he attributes to Gaudí links with the Templars, a theory specifically based on some incisions in Gaudí’s tombstone in the Carmen chapel of the Sagrada Familia crypt. On the tombstone there are some Maltese crosses, a deltoid, a talisman triangle and the symbol of cancer, which the author links to Gaudí without realising that this tombstone was made in 1939, replacing the original one of 1926, destroyed in 1937, upon which the only thing engraved was “Antoni Gaudí Cornet, al cel sia”.
According to Llarch, the dragon on the steps of the Park Güell is a salamander, when in reality it is Python, the malign dragon, killed by Apollo and buried in the Doric temple of Delphos, to protect the subterranean waters, which in this case collect in the cistern below the Sala Hipóstila, the outlet for which is the dragon’s mouth itself, and which in this case need not necessarily be a salamander as its skin colouring is also found, for example, in Madagascan chameleons.
The author continues with Gaudí’s supposed links to the occult and kabbalah, based on the geometrical floor shape of the Sagrada Familia, and embroils himself in erudite comments on the “Book of Splendour” by Simeón bar Yochai (1280) and its influence on T.P.A.B. von Hockenheim, “Paracelsus” (1493-1541) and Giovanni Pico della Mirandola (1465-1494). A demonstration of knowledge about kabbalah and those who support it, with remote coincidences with the intentions of Gaudí’s project, which they even link with Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem.
Amongst the decorative images and shapes of the Sagrada Familia facade, Llarch finds kabbalistic references which, however, are not necessarily so, as they may be equally interpreted in a Christian sense. As an example, the two columns that flank the Caridad door on the Nacimiento facade, with the base in the shape of a tortoise, which according to Llarch is an alchemical symbol of confused mass, the shafts would be the menhirs, as the axis of the world, and the capitals in the shape of palm trees, in groups of three and two, the sum of which is five, the number of Knowledge. In reality, Gaudí sought simply to represent the medieval symbol of the Church. The tortoise represents the sphere of chaos which, thanks to its four feet, corresponding to the cardinal points, becomes the immobile and ordered sphere of the cosmos, upon which stands the palm tree, representation of the Church, “justus ut palma florebit”, which orders the Christian cosmos. Ancient symbology of Chinese or Hindu origin, Christianised in the Middle Ages, like so many others.
Finally, Llarch makes extensive allegations about the ingestion of drugs on the part of Gaudí, particularly certain hallucinogens, thereby explaining the unusual nature of his architectural shapes.
This theory he based on the writings of Robert Graves in “The Greek Myths” and on “The divine mushroom of immortality” by Gordon Wason, both scholars of the “Amanita muscaria”, a hallucinogen mushroom very common in Cataluña. Earlier, alchemists such as Giovanni della Porta (1538-1615), described the drugs as liberators of latent intelligence.
To consider Gaudí as a drug addict, under the influence of the Amanita Muscaria, is a theory without basis, although Joan Llarch insinuated that the ceramic cap of a ventilation tube in the Park Güell gatehouse presents a certain similarity to an amanita muscaria and this sufficed for him to believe Gaudí was addicted to hallucinogens. This statement achieved great success amongst enemies of Gaudí’s creativity, who seek to attribute the origin of gaudinian shapes to other causes, however absurd.
In a television interview, the presenter asked the author of this text if Gaudí took LSD. The response was immediate: “Gaudí took coffee with milk”. This is a proven fact while the LSD allegation hangs upon just one inconsistent peg.
The hallucinations caused by the ingestion of drugs remain solely within the minds of the person drugged and never carry over into his or her work. Yet another false hypothesis regarding the personality of Gaudí.
In relation to the opinions of Eduardo Rojo Albarrán, in his books on the Park Güell and the Casa Milà, published in “L’Avenç. 1998”, it must be noted that these consist solely of deductions taken from observation of the architect’s work, without any documentation to back them up. For example, he maintains that a rough figure behind the Park Güell School sporting a large tapered hat on its head and an arm missing a hand, must have originated from a Minoan divinity that carried winged victory in its hand. All this an alexandrine symbol linking Gaudí to Egyptian pharaonic kabbalah. An old photo of the whole figure shows that the hat is a laundry basket and the mutilated hand held a spade with which to beat the clothes. The alexandrine sculpture becomes a washerwoman from the beginning of the XX century.
On another occasion he interpreted the caption inscribed upon a fragment of ceramic on the roof terrace stairs of the casa Milà: “1910. M. Rebled” as a subliminal message of Gaudí’s, written in early Latin, when in reality it is a bricklayer’s joke who recorded the name of Miguel Rebled, administrator of Mr. Pedro Milà, who lived in La Pedrera.
The point is that the accumulation of false interpretations of Gaudí’s work have been repeated in publications and books on the architect, particularly by those who have sought to discredit him and distance him from his Christian orthodoxy. The so-called progressives, in their attempts to undermine the principles consecrated by tradition and upheld by the Catholic faith, think only of destroying them without replacing them with others.
This comes from permissive laws, from the negation of all authority, establishing a supposed freedom of action, which leads only to ignorance and fanaticism.
Gaudí, a universally renowned figure, in order to acquire value in the eyes of these progressives, must be linked to freemasonry, the occult and drug addiction.
A useless attempt for those scholars without prejudice, but an easy route for the fanatical and unscrupulous ignorant, who brag of modernity and an advanced spirit, whose weak strength of conviction is based solely on the negation of reality.
The moral and artistic principles of Gaudí are of a simplicity and clarity that clearly irritate his ignorant detractors.
Suffice two simple examples: When Enrique de Ossó asked Gaudí what the Colegio Teresiano would be like once the work was completed, the architect replied: “It will be fine in this house”. Superb and masterly lesson in architecture, which clashes with the complicated and banal rhetoric of the progressives, when they attempt to justify their ideas so distant from what is real and concrete.
Juan Munné Seraní, carpenter who collaborated with Gaudí on much of his work, said: “En Gaudí te el cap clar” (Gaudí has a clear head), statement which does not sit with those who seek to immerse themselves in the confusion of their false progressive principles.
Luckily, Gaudí’s charisma, expressed in his unique architectural work, dazzles undimmed in history.
Juan Bassegoda Nonell
To follow are news items relating to the figure of Gaudí since the last Gaudinews..
THE POPE MAY CONSECRATE GAUDÍ’S SAGRADA FAMILIA
Pope Benedict XVI might inaugurate the central nave of the Expiatory Temple of the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona on the 7th of November, with the first Eucharist service to be held in the basilica, which would simultaneously serve as religious consecration of the work conceived by the architect Antoni Gaudí.
Read full news item
THE SAGRADA FAMILIA WILL BE READY IN AUTUMN FOR CONSECRATION BY THE POPE
The Supervising Architect of the Sagrada Familia, Jordi Bonet, today confirmed that the temple will be ready this coming autumn to receive Benedict XVI, should the Pope finally decide to travel to Barcelona to consecrate Gaudí’s work, which will thereby become open to the worship of the faithful.
Read full news item
Gaudí, alias López Vázquez
A Catalan historian confirms he has a fictional documentary in which the actor interprets the brilliant architect – The film, from 1974, was never shown.
Read full news item
THE CATHEDRAL OF MALLORCA RECOVERS A SOUNDBOARD CREATED BY GAUDÍ
The Cathedral of Mallorca will host on Friday the inauguration of a replica of the soundboard (amplifier) designed by Antoni Gaudí for the temple, a piece which crowned the Gospel pulpit since 1904 but was removed in 1971 and which now temporarily returns until the 1st of October.
Read full news item
3. COLLABORATIONS FROM OUR MEMBERS
Our member Pavel Taranenko sends us his portrait of Gaudí from Kiev, Ukraine.
Thank you for your collaboration Pavel.
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