I’ve been thinking about gargoyles lately and the very unique perspective that they have on the world. It’s a high view and a long view and they can see much from one singular point of reference; in other words- they don’t move around much (at least that we can see) and the view is difficult; almost impossible. Looking straight down, the foreshortening is extreme, even if executed perfectly. The long view is challenging for even the greatest landscape artists of any day, and the views in-between bring thoughts of the great Italian master Cantaletto and his beautifully rendered architecture. But that isn’t the Gargoyle’s true perspective either. So, we must wonder how it might be to have its view, and to be what almost every artist wishes to be . . .
Just a pair of eyes.
Unseen for the most part- but looking!
Looking, watching, observing . . . Seeing!
Add to that- a soul . . . a one-of-a-kind unique being, like no other, before or since.
Remember Charles Laughton as the bell-ringer, Quasimodo, in the 1939 classic film swinging from the balustrades of Notre Dame? The perfect wretch whose love for Esmeralda (played by the young Maureen O’Hara) was born by a simple, compassionate act of kindness; that of offering him a drink of water. “Why was I not made of stone like thee?” he later pleads to the silent and stoic gargoyle.
I believe the gargoyle was too engaged in looking, watching, observing, Seeing . . . to answer.
But had he answered, without turning his head or unfixing his eyes from the view, he would have said in a soft, low, voice, raspy from lack of use, “Look . . . just look at that!”
And alas, Quasimodo’s only true friends were the bells- those bells that had made him deaf- could not hear his plea. The scales of Irony always teeter perfectly.
But neither the perspective nor the plea were lost on the gargoyle.
The perspective is the heart-torn irony of a pathetic human creature put into a world that would never understand him. A being whose sole purpose was to love and to be loved; to be productive and worthy to another; to exhibit ones own uniqueness and to share his expression with a world that was unprepared to see or hear.
It was that very same perspective that poor Vincent might have shared with an ill-proportioned Toulouse-Lautrec, and a tragically brilliant, Edgar Poe might have shared with dear Sylvia whose reflection appeared in her very own Bell Jar . . .
Or, many centuries before, the perspective that Christ had from his cross as he looked down at his own murderers and asked his father to forgive them . . . then looking out, ahead, into the distance; a vision and perspective that had to be his and His alone.
Or . . . Maybe it’s your perspective? Maybe it’s mine?
And the gargoyle spake again unto the air, unto the birds, and unto the cold stones upon which it sat and said:
“Look . . . just look at that!”