Additional Thoughts on Sarris, the Pantheon and Creative Vision

“A Portal to the Heavens”

After reading Eric Gibson’s essay over the weekend about the Pantheon in Rome, “A Portal to the Heavens,” I am struck by the connection between the writer’s description of the structure’s transformative design and Andrew Sarris’ much debated categories of film directors. (Sarris passed on June 18. See “An American Original” in IP CloseUp.)

The Sarris Pantheon may be less specifically about the cinematic gods it has enshrined than the bridge it provides to deeper understanding and spiritual connection.

“The Pantheon is about more than engineering… The Pantheon is the greatest interior in Western Architecture, one where space is nearly as palpable as the forms that contain it – what isn’t there is as important as what is.

“Because of the vertical alignment of [these] elements the eye is naturally drawn upward, and as it moves, we notice that the forms become simpler, more elemental.

“We trace a passage that gradually removes us from the specific, worldly realm below to the most abstract universal shape of all. The oculus is many things. It is the Pantheon’s basic design module. It is an act of consummate architectural audacity. Most of all, however, it is a portal to the heavens.

“The round disc of sunlight it admits draws our thoughts out and away from out immediate surroundings to the motion of the planets, an invites us to think of ourselves not as members of a particular faith, city or country, but as part of the whole cosmos.”

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