I suspect Victorians loved spaces to be filled – if our church architecture is anything to go by. There’s no room to swing a cat let alone set it amongst pigeons. I wonder if that’s the reason. I wonder if it was a sort of control mechanism. If the space was filled with furniture there’s no room to move. If the space was filled with pews everyone is lined up – all neat and tidy. I wonder if this was a reflection of the mind games going on – that people had to believe and that minds were absolutely cluttered by what they were told to think and remember.
I wonder if that’s why there aren’t any cats in churches.
Post modernism has gone minimalist (has that got something to do with the atomic age?) and as we have explored space we have decided to make space. TV programmes focus on “decluttering our homes” which reminds me that is what I am supposed to be doing now, and architects talk about the significance of the space that surrounds an object. But. still many people insist on filling the space. Pages, diaries are there to be filled – when actually it is the white space of a page which highlights meaning and the days kept free which are the most refreshing.
Alan Eccleston – Communist priest serving in Darnall, Sheffield for many years – referred to the practice of the French philosopher Charles Peguy. His practice was to write blank pages into his books. When challenged by his publisher, Peguy replied that he wanted to give his readers “thinking space”.