Vendredi le 20 février 2015
Early Carthusian Script and Silence

At its founding and during its first three decades, the Carthusian order developed a distinctive and forceful concept of communication among the members and between the members and the extramural world.

The original ideas and practices of the first Carthusians viewed writing and reading as instruments used for the ideal of spiritual life. The core idea was to organize text-based knowledge into two steps. The first was presentation of the text by writing, copying, or reading it. The second was effacement of one’s self as author, scribe, or reader in favor of inward reflection on the wisdom found in the text. This drove the book and the monk apart. However, as the links between the material storage of knowledge - the codex - and cognizers - humans - became increasingly complex and tight, Carthusian theory increasingly centered this ideal on inward rather than outward sources of knowledge. To preach to others with their hands, the scribes at Chartreuse communicated through barriers showing the original members’ anxiety to control speech - their cell walls, the monastery walls, and the rocky mountains - and their conflicted determination to communicate by means of these obstacles. Their hands and their tools were instruments for probing the paradox of spirit speaking through matter. The value of writing and of reading thus adjusted, these practices, tamed, served ultimately spiritual purposes. They helped govern thinking so as to push it into self-awareness [notitia] all the way to the divine loving constitution of things [amor]. They forced their words to form a channel for spiritual growth conceived out of the means they used for reaching God. It was the attempt of Bruno and his followers to use language against itself, extending self-consciousness into some region inaccessible except through silence.
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