The fire that devoured Notre Dame is said to have destroyed a “cultural icon” and an “architectural marvel.” But Notre Dame and its sister medieval cathedrals were not built to be any of those things. They were expressions of the enraptured, visionary faith of the Middle Ages, which anyone born after the Enlightenment can barely comprehend. What the fire destroyed had already long ago been deprived of its spiritual potency.
The French banker promises it will be rebuilt. But if rebuilt, it will be rebuilt by faithless men, and will stand as nothing more than a monument to the technology of simulation. It might look identical to the original, but it will have been revived as kitsch.