Losing My Wings

The inorganic striving of the cathedral

According to Worringer, the tensions created by the inorganic strivings of the Northern line are carried into the Gothic Cathedral. The use of a number of Gothic architecture practices (piers, ribbed vaults, and pointed arches) allowed for Cathedral builders to translate a horizontal displacement of weight into soaring vertical spaces. “We see how the heavenward striving energies are released from the forces stored up in the buttresses, to attain their goal of height in a mighty, mechanical display of force” (164). Much like the Northern line, the inner space of the cathedral derives from the displacement of horizontal force into a vertical striving towards heaven.

As I noted before, most recent writers on the gothic have appealed to Worringer's work because it complicates the relationship between two aspects commonly associated with living things: the vital (seen as a striving) and the organic (seen as symmetrically organized). I think this is an exceptionally useful distinction but I also think there are other reasons to use an emphasis on the gothic. In what follows we will begin with an analysis of how a gothic will to forms create specific types of gothic spaces and then augment this analysis on the epistemological and experiential qualities of gothic life. We will finish our analysis of gothic biology by looking at how gothic literature plumbs some of the emotional terrain of the relationship of bodies to each other, thus telling us about the role of biology in society.


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