The Play of Forms: Nature, Culture and Liturgy by Dom H. van der Laan, Richard Padovan

By Dom H. van der Laan, Richard Padovan

Desk of Contents Preface I. creation II. traditional kinds III. Cultural varieties IV. Liturgical types V. the 3 Form-Worlds VI. sensible types VII. Expressive varieties VIII. enormous varieties IX. the main of Liturgical shape X. seen and Invisible issues

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The signs used by culture are based on its expressive forms, of which they are an abbreviated reflection, while these expressive forms derive in turn from functional forms, which they open up to the intellect. Similarly, the whole complex of liturgical forms is based on that of cultural forms, of which it is an abbreviated Analogy between form-worlds and form-types 40 chapter v reflection, and the cultural form-world derives from the natural one, of which it gives us an intelligible image. We can therefore gain an insight into the intrinsic character of the liturgical sign by comparing it with the signs or monumental forms of culture, in the light of the analogy between the minor triad of the cultural formtypes and the major triad of the three form-worlds.

The first consists of coloured figures against the flat ground of walls or panels; the second arises from the shaping of threedimensional materials like wood or stone. Relief sculpture, comprising forms raised or hollowed out from a surface, combines the two processes. VII EXPRESSIVE FORMS 1. We must complete nature with our artefacts and by so doing give our human existence the support it needs. A part of the space and matter of nature is adapted to our existence by certain defined modifications: this is the work of our hands, guided by our senses under the direction of the intellect.

This human limitation does not go so far, however, that we are restricted to a single choice, like a bird that can make only one form of nest. Our limitation lies midway between the endless variety found in nature as a whole and the predetermined way of life of its separate species. We always have the choice between a certain number of possibilities that our intellect is able to comprehend, and which it can derive from the unlimited range of natural possibilities. With the eight tones of the octave we build up our musical repertoire, and from the continuous series of colours that merge imperceptibly into each other we distil the six colours that we can give names to.

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