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Tulips. Longitude. Spices. A fashion in book-making
has come upon us. You take a hitherto
Rogers: It is also about this one particular church.
Visser: Well, just more of the same. What I do is
So, instead of a meal, I look at a building. Like a
In the last book, if someone said, "Why didn't you focus on the tomato?"
In this book, if someone asks, "Why didn't you focus on Thomas
Rogers: The church, St. Agnes outside the Walls...
Visser: Yes, I picked this one because it's small, and it's in Rome. But,
I want people to feel free to do with their church what I did with this
One of the more popular modern writing crazes is to take an object from everyday life and to dissect it : the materials used to make it; its history; its uses; etc.. Margaret Visser's Geometry of Love is a fairly representative example of this genre, better than some, no worse than most. In it she concentrates her attention upon the Sant'Agnese fuori le Mura Church near Rome. By the time you finish the book you know everything you could possibly want to know about this church, which most of us have never heard of and will never see, except for one thing : why are churches in general, or this one in particular, unique ?
Much of the book is interesting, some sections are even fascinating, but, perhaps because of the nature of the task she's set herself, describing the church as a physical structure, it never comes alive as a house of God. Admittedly, as a Baptist, I've always considered church buildings themselves to be secondary to the function they serve, as a gathering place for like-minded worshippers. But I found the book to be something like the parable of the three blind men describing an elephant, and Visser to have failed to make the church anything more than the sum of its parts. In his marvelous study, Mont Saint Michel and Chartres, Henry Adams observed two of the great churches of Christendom and perceived not merely their unity, but the unity of the culture that produced them. Margaret Visser looks at Saint Agnes and sees the particular features of the building. The difference in perception seems significant.
-Margaret Visser (Author Web Site)
-BOOK SITE : Geometry of Love (FSB Associates)
-Compass : A Jesuit Journal (Margaret Visser, Contributing Editor)
-EXCERPT : CANOPIES from Geometry of Love
-ESSAY : A Sixties Scrapbook : Fit, Young and Casual Were the Trinity (Margaret Visser, Compass)
-ESSAY : St. Simeon the Stylite : He Dug Deeper and Ended Up High (Margaret Visser, Compass)
-ESSAY : On Awful Offal (Margaret Visser, george, jr.)
-ESSAY : Baked Beans: An Apotheosis (Margaret Visser, george, jr.)
-ESSAY : TAKING A SHOWER (Margaret Visser, george, jr.)
-INTERVIEW : Margaret Visser: Anthropologist of everyday life (THIS MORNING - CBC Radio, 10/00)
-INTERVIEW : Margaret Visser : The Real Meaning of Table Manners (Melanie Fogel, CM: A Reviewing Journal of Canadian Materials for Young People)
-REVIEW : of The Geometry of Love by Margaret Visser (Independent uk)
-REVIEW : of Geometry of Love (David Jays, The Observer)
-REVIEW : of THE RITUALS OF DINNER The Origins, Evolution, Eccentricities, and Meaning of Table Manners By Margaret Visser (1991) (Molly O'Neill, NY Times Book Review)
-REVIEW : of The Way We Are (Katharine Whittamore, Salon)
-REVIEW : of MUCH DEPENDS ON DINNER. The Extraordinary History and Mythology, Allure and Obsessions, Perils and Taboos of an Ordinary Meal. By Margaret Visser (John Gross, NY Times)
-REVIEW : of MUCH DEPENDS ON DINNER The Extraordinary History and Mythology, Allure and Obsessions, Perils and Taboos, of an Ordinary Meal. By Margaret Visser (1988) (Laura Shapiro, NY Times Book Review)