I understand that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but sometimes I’m shocked by how little people recognize the beauty of IDEAS. Read a poem, see a performance, have a conversation with an interesting thinker; concepts are magical, musical, full of light or darkness. A plot may not be the most exciting, but it could be full of the most beautiful ideas. Who are we? What is love? Truth? Grief? Fear? What does it mean to grow? How does grace change us? Beautiful questions.
This is something that I believe Victor Hugo mastered. I adore him. I have read Les Miserables multiple times. I love Hunchback. People often complain that he should “just get to the story already!” Victor Hugo isn’t trying to tell a story; he is trying to get us to feel the experiences that the characters have. We should understand the universal through the individual. (I am a total Romantic, so I love this method of storytelling.) A modern example: John Green will have moments like this. His stories aren’t the greatest, but he’ll have a chapter describing the emotions an experience drew out of the characters. I love those parts.
ANYWAY. Let’s just say I was a bit excited to go to Notre Dame. Not only is a magnificent cathedral, but it is the focal point of one of Hugo’s books. The fact that all this injustice takes place in a church? That outcasts and gypsies can have a relationship with God that bishops are unable to have? Whoa. I stayed for part of the mass, which was gorgeous. I lit my candle. It was amazing.
It was incredible. I was in heaven.
There was one other place I got to visit that is topical for this post. Check it out:
To die is nothing; but it is terrible not to live. — Victor Hugo