Monday, November 19, 2018

Angkor Wat

It is possible that the ruins of Angkor [Angkor Wat] are in many ways more impressive than the city itself was in its heyday.  Time has wrought wonders with the sandstone, which must have been garish enough when freshly cut.  And vandalism and the flailings of sun and rain have done much to mute that excessive symmetry, that all-pervading symbolism, that repetitiousness which I find so irritating in far-Eastern art.  There is evidence of an obsession with the magic of numbers and of the dignifying, under artistic forms, of primeval superstitions.  One feels that the Khmer must have reasoned that if it was a good thing to erect one statue to Vishnu or of a Devata, then it was fifty times better to have fifty of them.  Adepts of magic never seem to be convinced that their magical practices are completely and finally effective.
      - Norman Lewis, A Dragon Apparent: Travels in Indo-China (1951)

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