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Burning the Temple: ‘from spark to phoenish’

March 21, 2015

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Last Saturday I finally got round to working on a log of pine, which I scavenged a few years ago on my travels around Micheldever Forest. As I sawed and hacked away at it a shape emerged, reminiscent of how I once imagined a Babylonian ziggurat looked.

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In fact, the nearest architectural correlate to this figure today (other than a fairground helter skelter) would be the Great Mosque of Samarra (long may it remain!).

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As it was, I was just chopping up a log to burn on what I hoped would be the last of the cold nights (it wasn’t). After several hours I ran out of steam and just heaved the whole edifice into the grate. I couldn’t help but think of it as a kind of temporary temple, to be consumed in the spirit of the decline and renewal of all things – that is, not as an idol to be destroyed, but an idol to be enjoyed. I saw it as a memorial to the years I used to work around that bit of Hampshire (no more, alas).

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I learn today that someone has built a huge wooden temple in Derry, filled with the wishes, prayers and thanks of people in the city. It is to be consumed in flames tonight.

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