A Long Quote from Victor Hugo

In the fifteenth century, everything changed.

The human mind discovered a means of perpetuating itself which was not only more lasting and resistant than architecture but also simpler and easier. Architecture was dethroned. The lead characters of Gutenberg succeeded the stone characters of Orpheus.

The book was to kill the building.

The invention of the printing-press is the greatest event in history. It was the mother of revolutions. It was the total renewal of man's mode of expression, the human mind sloughing off one form to put on another, a complete and definitive change of skin by that symbolic serpent which, ever since Adam, has represented the intelligence.

In its printed form, thought is more imperishable than ever; it is volatile, elusive, indestructible. It mingles with the air. In the days of architecture, thought had turned into a mountain and taken powerful hold of a century and of a place. Now it turned into a flock of birds and was scattered on the four winds occupying every point of air and space simultaneously.

We repeat: who cannot see that in this guise it is far more indelible? Before, it was solid, now it is alive. It has passed from duration to immortality. You can demolish a great building, but how do you root out ubiquity? Come a flood and the mountain will long ago have vanished beneath the waters while the birds are still flying; let a single ark be floating on the surface of the cataclysm and they will alight on it, will survive on it, and, like it, will be present at the receding of the waters; and as it awakes, the new world which emerges from the chaos will see the ideas of the drowned world soaring above it, winged and full of life.

From Book Five, Chapter Two of Notre-Dame de Paris, translated by John Sturrock.