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He will do it all the more easily because, in the religious ages, it was with experience - consequently with the knowledge of a craft - that the formation of minds began.  Since everyone participated in the nature of ‘man in act’, no-one could fail to know how to enter into the human act of his neighbour as that act was revealed in his work;  and no-one could possibly confuse subject with object, since the act was experience and it was through experience that every man created himself.  No-one thought of asking; ‘What did he want to say?’  Rather they asked:  ‘How was it made?’  And since they knew that, above the level of the senses there was the level of the soul operating through MEMORY, it didn’t take long to find out how to enter into the work.  Poetry, creation.  All the crafts, whatever they were, were the stuff of creation, the stuff of poetry.  Coopers, cutlers, potters, painters, shoemakers were poets and the proof can be found in those of their master works - which is to say, simply, objects fully realised - which have come down to us.  These works, these master works, these human acts that we cannot devalue without devaluing ourselves, were, then, much more of the nature of general ideas than of particular circumstances.  The REALISM of these periods, which the clerks associated with ideas and principles, found its application in the different crafts. (1) Over the material technique that was specific to each of the crafts there prevailed a technique of the spirit that was common to every one.  Everyone knew the relations between geometrical figures and numbers that were to be found at the basis of each of the particular means of expression. (2)  It was easy, in the means of expression determined by each of the different techniques, to recognise constants that were part of a great fund held in common.  That is what explains the Unity that is so striking in all the productions of those times.  It is not a matter of ‘style’, which is merely external, but of ‘order’, which derives from the principles themselves.  One arrived at the business of shoemaking through numbers and through simple geometrical figures (Humanism would eventually turn the problem upside down and, starting out from a pair of shoes, arrive at great quantities of numbers and piled up stocks of geometrical figures).  It was by the same route that people approached painting, sculpture,the poetry of words, and architecture.

(1)  The specialisation that prevails at the present time means that those who study the ideas of a particular age never look at what that age did, least of all at the most humble of its deeds.  As a result, the cause is isolated, cut off from the effect.  The UNIVERSALS were not an intellectual juggling trick;  they were the means by which man himself was built.  There were no thick walls separating the clerk from the artisan as there are today where the pure intellectual no longer has any understanding of the craftsman or the farmer, and when it is almost against the law for a craftsman to have ideas. 

(2)  Up until the Revolution, in the guilds - already degenerate as they were by that time - the apprentices were required to know the principles of fugue and counterpoint. There at least tradition was still stronger than classical modernism.

From the simple figures of geometry to numbers.  Everything I have tried to explain can be summed up in that one phrase.  The man who looked at a mural painting was, first of all, sensitive to what he recognised as being most general in its nature.  That is, to the generalising relations of geometry.  At that level, the shoemaker and the painter could understand each other in a common, fundamental, human language.  And that is probably why, once they begin unquestionably to assume a certain importance, the ‘images’ seem to our modern judges - who have passed through the discipline of the Renaissance and have learned to see the images of Greece at the time of Pericles as the real beauties of Art - deformed, crude, proofs of the collapse of the technique into a barbarous state of ignorance.  In fact, in that period, these images were still secondary, subordinated to the real problem, which was expressed in geometrical figures and in relations between numbers.  And there, all is faultless, there is never a mistake.  On the side of the image, a certain indifference, a little scorn for what is only perishable flesh.  The work, I repeat, had to affirm something that could not be shown in a representation.  And its earthly reality could not pass into the successive nature of numbers without sacrifices.  The geometry was itself one of these sacrifices and the one that was perhaps closest to the soul because - at the level of the senses which do not possess it of themselves - it had already introduced an element of understanding.  

Carolingian era mural painting from St John's Church, Müstair in Switzerland

From the level of the senses, from the central theme, the spectator, faithful to life, knew how to pass to the level of memory, to the realm of numbers - the world of those waves that are stirred by memories of the past but which are put into movement by our aspirations.  A world that is incorporeal but still of a reality more powerful, more lasting than that of the material world.  Reality ceaselessly in manifestation, in anticipation, always vibrant, always undulating.  Even if, at the lower level of the senses, there were images, here there are none.  At its own level, the image accessible to the senses represented a certain reality;  but once it has passed into the memory it is like the trace left in the sea by a ship going on its way, a furrow which raises up around it, foaming, the temporal world of the water.  But, very different as it may be from its reality as an object when it was experienced by the senses, the trace, by itself, of its own nature, imposes in the memory a mark of that reality which is almost indelible.  In thus assuming a period of existence that triumphs over its death in space, the image continues to live in time.  When, out of ignorance, we deform its nature, it ceases to be that reality that is above the reality of the level of the senses - that intermediary way between the lowest that is in us and the heights, the heights where the light shines directly.  It becomes a shop, a warehouse full of notions that are more or less negative, and the soul ceases to have any responsibility for it.  It is the senses that have taken it over and fill it up. 

The spectator, in those great religious ages, knew how to pass - by an act that was of the nature of reason - from colour, in geometry, to the rainbow, in arithmetic.  And there he could resound with the cadence of greens, blues, reds, yellows, until the break occurred by which he was born to the light, which revealed him to himself.