This association goes back at least one thousand years to the beginning of the glory days of what we call the Gothic Age of cathedral building in Western Europe.
The originator of Gothic Architecture was Abbot Suger (c. 1081- 1151) of Saint Denis Abby, just outside Paris, France. His idea of “Lux Continua” (continuous, unbroken light) transformed the dark interiors of Romanesque Churches into the magnificent halls of spiritual and actual radiant light of the Gothic cathedral.
Abbot Suger based his ideas on the writings of Pseudo-Dionysius, who was probably a fifth century Syrian Christian monk who wrote about the connections of the school of Neo-Platonism, especially the theory of optics of Plato, and Christianity. Abbot Suger taught that light was an attribute of God and a sign of God’s work on earth. Light, like God can penetrate substances without breaking them. This was called “Lux Continua” and was a conscious control of the quality and distribution of light of the Gothic style.
The development of a new technology of the flying buttresses that allowed the stress of the walls to be directed outward from the building, freed up the stress on the interior walls and allowed for walls with huge open spaces that were filled with glass of many different colors.
Anyone who has had the privilege of visiting a classic Gothic Church is still in awe and wonderment of the space and the light and the magnificent stained glass windows… even after 1,000 years. Amazing indeed.
The basic idea of a spiritually animated matter was part of the theory of the day written about by Dionysus, who wrote that “ every creature, visible or invisible, is a light brought into being by the Father of lights” and celebrated the Divine Light of God’s Holy Fire, which animated the entire universe.
Let us remember that the cathedral is built of stone-silicon and that the magnificent glass is another form of sand-silicon which lets in the wonder of light. We are dealing with the same basic materials of silicon and photons that we started with from the time of Abraham.
The rabbis in the Talmud suggest that “there are many lights in light” (Talmud Bavli, Berachot 52b). We can begin to see the many manifestations of light-photons and our association of them with silicon in a new synergy that allows for our modern world of cyberspace.
Abbot Suger let in the light through the stone –silicon of the walls of the churches and we can let in the light through fiber-optics of glass and through the air of Wi-Fi with the lights of the pixels that dance on our TVs, computer screens and cell phones and who knows what new gadgets in the future.
The association of Abbot Suger with George Gilder seems to me so obvious.
So- we are connecting the various forms of light:
The light of Day One of the creation narrative,
The lights of Day Four of the creation,
The photons of the Big Bang,
The light of photosynthesis,
The light of Abraham’s blessing,
The light at Sinai,
The light in the Mishkan (Tabernacle) Ark,
The light in the two Temples,
The lights of the Gothic cathedrals,
The lights we know of the electro-magnetic spectrum,
The lights of the fiber optics of our broad band technologies…
(There must be many that I am leaving out… so if you can think of some let me know through this blog-
All the same LIGHTS.