Today we merely saw a metaphor played out before us. What we have lost we have been in the process of losing for quite some time. The rest of this post is taken from here. And you should watch at least the first two minutes of Kenneth Clark’s opening.
There is no way to replace what Paris, what France, what Christendom, and indeed what humanity, has lost today. It is irreplaceable. For example, we literally cannot recreate the windows, which date from the time of Dante. We do not know how to do it. As a friend said to me, “You can rebuild the World Trade Center. You cannot rebuild Notre Dame de Paris.”
Kenneth Clark’s monologue opening his great 1969 TV series Civilisation (all of which is available on YouTube). Standing in front of the Notre Dame cathedral, Clark asks, “What is civilization?” He says he can’t define it in abstract terms, “but I think I can recognize it when I see it.” He then turns to the cathedral, and says, “I’m looking at it right now.” Watch: