In the east of the City today, a group of men dressed as if they are hooligans from the sixteenth century will run up to a temple and smash its stained glass window in with rocks. Strangely enough, they are also members of the religious order who worship at the temple, the Recursive Order of the Hidden Path.
The window, which was only finished a few months ago, is an abstract work, with new large pieces depicting workers surrounded by a collage of broken fragments. In places these fragments have been pieced back together in such a way that they reveal something of the previous years’ designs; details rise out of the random placement of coloured glass, like the bright points in dappled shade. Every year the window is broken, and every year it is put back together again, slightly differently than before.
This yearly cycle is not an antagonistic one, or at least it has not been so for many years. The first three times the windows were smashed (by an antagonistic and now extinct religious sect, The Ship of God, celebrating their own festival, The Great Storm) it was indeed a malicious act, but after that third time it was performed by the Order themselves. This seems to be as a result of a crisis of faith that cut through the Order at the time, leading to some wholesale changes in their religion. Before, the Order was simply known as the Order of the Hidden Path, but its members’ seemed to have derived great spiritual enlightenment from the act of reconfiguring the windows, and thusly it became ‘Recursive’.
Anyone who looks closely at the temple’s windows (which can be viewed in their whole form before 9:47 tonight, when the pseudo-vandalistic act occurs) will see that the workers depicted there are not the farm or factory workers often depicted in the windows of other Buentoilliçan religious buildings, nor the abstract figure of ‘Labour’; a burly man or woman working at an anvil; so commonly seen in post-Revolution frescoes and mosaics, but specifically people making stained glass windows. The tools of the trade are obvious, and recur here and there in the collage of broken pieces that surrounds these figures.
If you look closer still you might notice that the collage itself is not entirely random; the details that arise like dappled light are not just echoes of past windows; there is some extra meaning to them, gifted via their placement. The fragmentary faces of past glass-workers are perhaps the most striking detail, but follow down from there and you will see that the bodies of these workers, once beatific in measured labour, designed specifically for that purpose, are now contorted into the form of the hooligans, dancing around the edges of the window, stones at the ready. Here and there what was once the shoulder or curve of a leg from a worker will be used in the same manner on a hooligan, but mostly there are a conglomeration of lines and shapes taken from elsewhere; a cluster of aggressive geometry.
The ‘path’ that is hidden from the Order is thought to be some form of route to heaven and understanding of their god, the Great Wanderer, who was thought to have created the world and then left to do great work elsewhere. Before the crisis of faith, members of the Order choose to attempt to find this path through direct worship and askance of this god, hoping that their words would carry to wherever it had wandered to. Yet the Order had been through many hard times, and many were beginning to doubt that their prayers would ever be answered. Yet around the time of the third window breakage, a new theory of a cyclical world came to prominence in the temple; what if god was not forever walking from us, but walking in a great circle which would eventually come back around?
The Order see their actions as a small wheel working its way around the inside of a much larger wheel (this symbol can be seen on many of their religious objects); whilst their god’s route is unchanging, theirs moves onwards with each cycle, changing just as their window slightly changes design each year. Eventually, they believe, they will catch up with the Great Wanderer.
Other festivals happening today:
- The Festival of Very Angry Geese
- The Day of Broken Promises
- The Festival of Sour Grapes