Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Cathedral, the Peacock, and the Books

Some Interesting Bookish Things

A walk through the neighborhood of Morningside Heights can yield a number of interesting sights (and sites). Today's offering was a stroll I took well before the snows of December and January fell upon us, making the city of New York slushy, icy, cold, and at times unbearable and wanting for summer to come quickly! As some of you familiar with this blog know, I have a proclivity for searching out book-objects in every possible form out there in our wide world--whether images of books, furniture designed to look like books, or more common, statues holding books carved from stone or cast in some metallic artisanal sculpture. So it is with this last item that I begin today. I hadn't realized how close the magnificent and splendrous St. John the Divine Cathedral was to my office and library at Columbia. One afternoon I took a walk and ambled up the stairs of the massive structure, which is still in the process of being built, nearly 120 years after it began in 1892! Of course, the old medieval churches took just as long and even longer in many cases to build. And for those interested in this old fashioned building (sort of a "slow build" version of the "slow food" movement), take a look at the hand-built castle they've been working on in France for the last few decades, called Chateau de Guedelon. One of the many interesting things about the Cathedral of St. John the Divine is the statuary near the entrance (see above), which depicts a number of saints and other holy figures. My reason for photographing them, besides their sculptured beauty, is that some of them are holding books. Take a look. I did not take photographs inside the Cathedral, as it is dark and I did not want to interrupt those in prayer. But outside there were some other interesting items in the adjacent park.

One of these things was this "random" peacock! At least, I think it was a peacock! It was startling, because it came out of the park and was wandering off of Amsterdam Avenue, seemingly oblivious to the honking cars and taxi cabs. Some folks ushered the bird back into its fenced park area, to shield it from any curbside harm.

It is in this park that one can find some other interesting sites, including the "Peace Fountain."

As the online Atlas Obscura writes: "The Peace Fountain was built in 1985 by Greg Wyatt to depict the struggle of good and evil, shown by the archangel Michael vanquishing Satan."

I did not take a photo of the fountain, but it can be seen on the Atlas Obscura site here.

What I wanted to show was a series of interesting smaller sculptures, which surround the fountain: all of them book sculptures, made out of some sort of metal (bronze?), and which decorate the park. Each book sculpture is different. I've read that there are some sculptures in this park created by children, but I'm not sure if these books were those same sculptures. Nevertheless, if you're ever in the mood to go for a stroll and get a good dose of architectural splendor (or just want to see some bookish sculptures), check out St. John the Divine Cathedral. The peacock will be waiting.

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