THE LETTER Of The Master Of Lodge
- Recursive symbology
I would like to share with you another thought regarding the Lodge Pictures, or Tracing Tables. In Percy John Harvey's "Anatomy of loggia paintings" we read the following about "recursive painting":
“Recursive painting is a pictorial procedure based on the principle of recursion. It consists in inserting a generally smaller replica of the painting into a painting. [...] Van Eyck's “Portrait of the Arnolfini spouses” represents an example of recursive painting. The convex mirror reflects the scene of the couple, in which the mirror itself appears, which in turn reflects the same scene. [...] With the different forms of the symbolic objects arranged in the Temple, the decoration and installation of the loggia produce a duplication of the symbolic elements of the degree, already depicted on the picture of the loggia [...]. The picture of the loggia itself, being part of the installation of the Temple, implies a symbolic recursion of the loggia, since it represents the loggia itself. [...] The loggia painting therefore has the task of concentrating the symbolism of the degree "(1).
I had always thought of the Temple as an ordered set of symbols designed to recall the sensitivity of each brother, through the subtle solicitation of contents present in the depths of each, and not reachable during ordinary daily life, but I had never dwelled on the fact that the Tracing Table is in fact a duplication of the symbols already arranged in the room.
P.J. Harvey compares this recursion to what is present in nature: these are "fractal" figures whose structure is repeated in different scales (eg leaves, crystals). This repetition is certainly not useless, as nothing is useless in nature, but it reinforces the structure of the object itself, and keeps it in order on several levels. Harvey therefore applies these considerations to the recursive presence of symbols in the loggia: the brothers experience the order given by the symbols of the Temple on different scales, precisely to stimulate different levels of awareness.
Sometimes I am led to think that certain ruminations like this perhaps leave, as they say, the time they find, but I am interested in sharing the approach: never cease to ask questions about the symbols that surround us and that we encounter in our masonry path. Perhaps some considerations that arise with time and inner progress will then seem naïve, outdated if not downright useless, but in reality they are always the result of our stone polishing work. The discarded pieces are not useless, because without the knowledge that they had to be discarded there would be no progress in the processing.
W.M. M.B. Master of Lodge
(1) "Anatomy of the Loggia Paintings", P.J. Harvey, pp. 111-112, Ed. Mediterranee, Rome 2014
Portrait of the Arnolfini spouses, Jan Van Eick, 1434
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