On the Allure of Sky


(SWEDEN Stockholm) A glimpse of sky in the narrow passage of Prästgatan in Stockholm’s Old Town. (Photo taken by the author.)

One of the reasons why I love Gothic architecture so much is how everything conspires to make the perceiver look up.

A by-product of contemporary preoccupation is the tendency to cast our eyes downwards: to avoid meeting a stranger’s glance (with its unwitting invitation to dally in another’s world), to avoid tripping over an obstacle that can cause an unforeseen delay, to avoid the ubiquitous distractions offered by the world at large (i.e., a child’s curious gaze, a sunbathing cat, a butterfly at rest).

In this day and age, we look down (in a literal sense) far too much. Sometimes, elevating our minds (our hearts? our souls?) takes as little (or perhaps as much) as lifting our gaze and risking being transported to the world above eye-level. There we can dwell on (and amongst) the sky, the clouds, the sun, the stars, the moon, the branches of trees, the spires of churches, the trails of jets, the flight paths of birds.

(Neuroscience claims that when we recall something visually, we look to the left and up.)

Of course, given how visually congested our contemporary environs are, perhaps there is precious little left that can induce us to raise our eyes.

Which is why finding such aids is always cause for celebration.

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