I decided to read again The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco. It’s been a long time since I first read it and the passage of time has improved greatly my appreciation of it, I must admit.
This morning I lay comfortably in bed thinking over the dilemmas the book describes: theological arguments, the dangers of being a heretic, the role of inquisitors, the history of the Pope in Avignon and the debate about poverty … not to mention the story of the Cathars and other ‘heretical’ groups at the time. And here I am in a small corner of the Lot, in Quercy, thinking how much we have learned since then! Oh! if only it were so!!!
No one really knows how old our little house is, but it’s old enough to have been built with walls 29 inches thick! The neighbour says, with a Gallic shrug, 3 or 4 hundred years – not back far enough to bear witness to those medieval times, but old enough to witness lots of troubles, including World War II when German soldiers came through Aynac and camped in a wood which we can see from our main gate. Our neighbour was a boy of 14 and his family was required to provide food for them. The point being that while there has been over 60 years of peace and while the outlook is now of Paradise itself, there is a whole ‘Lot’ of history I can’t begin to imagine. Aynac does have a church that has been around since the 12th Century, so the church bears witness to the times of 1327 – no wonder it’s in need of some repair! Oh dear! Is it the church that’s 12th Century or the Chateau!!! I must learn to take pictures of signs …
Somewhere recently I heard that the most peaceful century was the 2nd Century ad – now that gives some food for thought! If you are a Westerner now it would seem as though the benefits of peace so outweigh those of war that we would never go that way again. And yet, and yet not so long ago and not so far away bloody fights persisted in the former Yugoslavia. The EU long a harbinger of peace and good will among like states has now become a kind of ‘state overlord, I suppose’ even a kind of peace safety network – but is it still a network of ‘like-mindedness’? Are we building bridges so fast that they are likely to collapse because the necessary structure is not sound? I look around this idyllic place in the world, where the sky at night is free from light pollution, clear and divine – where the past days the green of the trees and land and the blue of the autumn sky is so perfect and I think about the rest of the world – and our undiminished need to tame it and control it. It’s hard here to imagine the billions of China and India, where there are also green fields and blue sky, and where they are reaching out to touch our world more and more – and I think that perhaps we are illusionists living still in the error of our ways and that history will once more defeat us.