Don Quixote is one of, if not the most, enduring story of all time, and probably the first time the modern version of what we call a novel was created. Miguel de Cervantes penned the story in the early 1600s, and that’s 400 years ago, for those who are mathematically challenged. This was right around the time when the Spanish Inquisition had really hit its stride, which was great – unless you were mostly everyone. No electricity, no free speech, no Starbucks – it was an era that seems alien to us now, and because of this it is easy to assume that Dan Quixote has no bearing on today’s fast paced world of Tweets, TMZ, and the latest celebrity nude phone hack.
I was watching PBS recently, as I often do, and caught a special about Gothic churches and how the pointed arch and flying buttress allowed for construction to great heights. It’s amazing—before these advances, castles, churches, and other structures needed big, thick, stone walls with very small windows to support upper floors. The pointed arch was the iron girder of the day, allowing building techniques to leap forward, almost overnight. Amazing structures like Notre Dame, The Church of St. Denis, and Canterbury Cathedral couldn’t have been built without this simple advancement – a change of just a few degrees in the stones at the top of the arch.