Monday, August 27, 2012

A Tale of The Chapel of St. Ignatius

I visited this Chapel last month on vacation in Washington State. I was reading a worn out paper epistle with softened corners called Great Expectations by Charles Dickens.  The reading requires thinking and a bit of Googling to look up fancy language every 2 minutes.

It was necessary for Joe to hold on heavily to the table with his left elbow, and to get his right leg well out behind him, before he could begin, and when he did begin, he made every down-stroke so slowly that it might have been six feet long, while at every up-stroke I could hear his pen spluttering extensively.

 I liked that bit about how Joe Gargery, Pip's blacksmith Uncle who brought him up 'by hand' made an attempt to learn how to write while Pip went away to establish himself.  When Pip left, Joe could barely put two words together in a sentence.  Just like a character in a classic or an architectural wonder, you really have to read the book cover to cover to appreciate how the idea or person came into being.

It would have been necessary for Biddy, Joe's wife's attendant and a bit of an undercurrent character in Great Expectations, to sit in the curving bench in front of the Altar of the Chapel while Pip and Joe investigate every hand-textured surface.  She would be reading her own Bible brought from her humble home.  She wouldn't have paid much attention to the space thinking it was a bunch of overcooked religious fodder.  She would be reading some verse which has "...various specimens of the insect world smashed between their leaves." 

If Joe and Pip from Great Expectations we standing in front of these glass jars Joe would start by saying, "These r holy ole used fur sumfin I dont no but kin oynle gess it to be Three Rums."  Pip would look around to see if Mr. Pumblechook was standing behind a wall listening to his Uncle's butchered use of  the English language.  Pip would pick up Joe's worn out hat that he set on top of the steel cantilevered shelf.  The lifeless chain reminds Pip of  Magwitch, the Convict's ankle chain that he files away at.

A solitary candle reminds Pip of Estella, the extraordinary bird carrying a candle to light the gloomy damp corridor in Miss Havisham's Satis House.

If Estella was here she wouldn't be inside with Joe and Pip, she would be sitting on this stone bench knitting.  After finishing a row, she would glance up quickly at how the hand carved Alaskan yellow cedar door sets neatly in a bronze frame and is set flush within the concrete wall. *that wasn't so bad now was it?*    She is thinking of how she is going to chuck Pip's mini-van keys into the reflecting pond.  She would be thinking how this building reminds her of the Churches she visited during her summer holiday in Rome.  Estella would be reveling in the her knowledge that it was her who gave Steven Holl, the award winning Architect the insight to cast the two bronze bells for the Chapel in the world -famous bell foundry of Paccard-Fonderie de Cloches, near her fashionable crib near Annecy-le-Vieux, France.

Pip would need a triple shot of espresso to warm him from "...the cold shivery mist..."  The entourage of characters would step into Stumptown Coffee Roasters a quick walk from the Chapel.
Pip's dear old chap Herbert would greet them all warmly as he was prepares a caffeinated brew.  Joe ordered the House Blend naturally and was "...tucking up his sleeves as if he were going to wield a crowbar or sledge hammer" as he searched for the half and half.

So I am trying to get into A Tale of Two Cities and I don't get it yet.  

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