During my research on the Cathars, one thing I never did look at was photos of Albi’s cathedral. I knew it was built after the Albigensian Crusade as a political statement and I felt like this was something I genuinely would be uncomfortable seeing. The Albi I wrote about was thus “Free Albi,” where the Bon Chretien still lived in harmony with their Catholic neighbor and where the light of Gnosis had a welcoming home.
Tonight, I finally saw what the thing looks like and although it’s red sandstone, the shape of the thing brought only three words to mind: Black Iron Prison. It stirred some mental images that were straight out of my previous life’s work.
Imagine this tall, dystopian shape, a cathedral- usually a place made to be a pavilion of glass and light- instead a towering statement of military conquest. Now imagine it in jet-black. I don’t now if that’s the shape I saw but for me it has that resonance, a hateful thing, a thing that came down like a snuffer on a candle to put out the lights for good, a piece of signal-jamming hardware to reorient the culture subliminally:
Now take a look at the interior of the place. There is nothing in the decorative program you wouldn’t see in any cathedral of the period, but the way those decorative themes are used is chaotic and oppressive, like the way a city street crammed with advertisements feels. Imagine these colors, shapes, and images rendered not in paint but in neon and LCD displays, like a set out of “Blade Runner,” and you’ll get the idea:
Don’t get me wrong, it’s an impressive piece of architecture, but the vibe it gives is probably the most evil vibe I have ever gotten off a religious structure of any sort. It gives me the willies in a big way because the images it stirs in my fevered imagination bring the dystopian aspect of it straight into the 21st century. Maybe it could be just my aversion as a Gnostic and it probably is, but part of me can’t help but see an echo of the menacing underpinnings of our reality that Phil described.