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Shut the fuck up, Donnie. You know nothing. You’re not helping. No, you cannot use flying water tankers, you miserable incompetent crook.

That stone & mortar is 1000 years old, and it is now super-hot. If you dump thousands of pounds of water on it, it will crumble.
Mortar is the key to stone buildings, and while it’s a form of cement, it’s fragile. (I researched this. And we learned a lot from The Blitz.)

The mortar originally used to build Notre Dame was water, sand and lime. Which isn’t waterproof. It required continual upkeep.
What we think of as mortar is a 19th century invention.

When stone buildings burn, both mortar & stone can be rendered fragile by the heat.(It happens with brick, too.) After being exposed to hundreds or thousands of degrees, the stone loses the ability to support what’s above.
It’s why, after a fire, we can’t just rebuild the interior structures. In this case, there are very old wood beams, and the leading in the roof has melted. Plus all of the interiors. And now the exterior walls won’t be able to support replacements.

This is pure tragedy.
There’s a reason that so much of the ancient & early modern world was built from limestone: it can be quarried with iron (not steel) tools, using human & animal muscle, without needing explosives.

It could be carved and fitted with the same tools.

But workability = fragility.
For all of its faults as historical fiction, Pillars of the Earth got most of the architecture right. And definitely got the feelings and the love that went into building cathedrals.

For cathedral builders, yes, they were an expression of faith, but also of love of their world.
Think... major sports team with fanatical devotion.

Now multiply that love because building the cathedral is employment and shelter and cameraderie and the center of lives for generations.

Every stone represents a family fed & sheltered, a market for wool and wheat.
And now we have less of that in the world. We have one less place where we can look and see the chisel marks made by someone unknown, a thousand years ago.
We have one less window made by an anonymous glass worker (who may have been male or female). One less tapestry.
I am all for modernity. Housing & vernacular buildings have an End of Useful Life, where it costs more to use & maintain and keep safe a structure than to demolish & rebuild, because how we use those buildings changes over the span of a generation.

A cathedral isn’t a house.
It’s not the religion that makes it special.

It’s the evidence of the material culture of a society that no longer exists.
We lack diaries from 13th century stone masons, but our technology can distinguish individual carvers. From there, we see their behavioral ergonomics.
Why does that matter? We got better than that, right?

You know that we’ve figured out that a 10th century recipe using onions & garlic is effective against a specific type of staph infection, right?

That points towards new antimicrobials. Which we need.…
And it turns out that the early modern guilds developed incredibly good ways of ensuring their membership got paid, had an equitable voice in their own working conditions, had means of dealing with internal corruption & resisting bad government.

Huh. Wonder what we could learn?
So it is completely appropriate to mourn the loss of beauty, and history, and what humans made in their efforts to ensure that something of them endured.

And to regret what we cannot recreate, if only because the very material — limestone — is now limited.
Lastly, this:
Notre Dame & St Denis & Santiago de Compostela & Ely & Winchester & York & Canterbury had priests who believed that the people they lived with every day were worth preserving & healing & feeding & sheltering for generations.

They were, in their way, progressive.
They found the money to build, and they figured it out. They decided that the future was important enough to build in their own time.

They were the first Long Now.

They understood that we have to think in centuries, not the quarterly profit-loss statement.
These were not people who thought government should be small enough to drown in a bathtub.

They knew that everyone in their community had to take care of everyone else, because they all spent every day knowing that what they built, they would not see completed.
... Um, yeah. So I write fiction.
Let’s just say I learned how buildings are built, and what happens when they burn, for a really good reason.

My first book is free, here, or minimum at the ‘zon.…
It’s not just cathedrals.
It’s Agra.
It’s Angkor Wat.
It’s Tenochtitlan.
It’s Hagia Sofia.
It’s Timbuktu.
It’s Palmyra.
It’s the Buddhas of Bamyan.
It’s Shahjahanabad.
It’s Giza.
It’s the coral reefs.
It’s species loss.

Our planet, and our history, are on fire.
We have 11 years.
And update, but just go to the next thread.
We are now in the watchful waiting stage, while the fire burns out and everything cools.
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