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Chrétien (AS:51-52) – silêncio

quinta-feira 22 de setembro de 2022


And if anyone were to ask nature why it makes, if it cared to hear and answer the questioner it would say: ‘You ought not to ask, but to understand in silence, you, too, just as I am silent and not in the habit of talking.’ (Plotinus, Enneads, III, 8, 4)

This denial of the terms of the question already forms a reply, for Plotinus  ’s aim is to show that the production of nature has nothing in common with that of human artisans, and that it cannot be explained by a mechanical model. It does not produce by realizing a plan traced out in advance, any more than it makes calculations. Its finality does not consist in setting up an aim for itself.

By developing a critique of the terms of the question, it is the dimension of the tinos heneka, of the ‘with what aim’ that nature rejects. We are on the way to the ohne Warum of Angelus Silesius   and his rose that blossoms without a why. This silence is far from being that of abstention or privation: it is the harmonious silence of theoria   , of contemplation. Plotinus’s fundamental thesis   in this treatise is that all action and all production originate in contemplation, and this is true on all levels of being, including nature. A creature acts and contemplates because it contemplates and so as to contemplate. As if it were immersed and absorbed in its own vision, nature makes the beings and forms that surround us spontaneously emerge from itself. To break silence, for nature, would be to reason, foresee, explain and calculate, and thus to allow deficiency and hesitation to infiltrate its somnambulistic plans, and thus to fall to the same level as an artisan deliberating on what he is to do. The silence of its vision summons forth, according to Plotinus, our silence, calls on us to rise up in silence, with our silence, from natural   forms to the fertile silence from which they emerge and do not cease to emerge. Of course, in the Enneads, this is merely one stage in the ‘return uphill’, to use Rene Char’s expression, for the path of silence is long, and nature constitutes merely the lowest form of the universal   soul. But there is in this idea   a clear sense   of how silence [51] listening to silence is fundamental, each silence having a precisely defined tenor of meaning.

This silent listening to silence is also an essential possibility of art and our relationship to it. The plastic arts enable us to hear the silence of nature or of things with an unequalled intensity. In still lives, the most ordinary implements, things we use every day, are withdrawn from the noise of our gestures so as to make available to us the unheard-of aspects they had, and still have - the aspects that we too did not prick up our hears to hear. This silence, so powerful and strange, nonetheless dwells in the greatest proximity to us, in our own dwellings. On another level, the St John the Baptist of Leonardo da Vinci in the Louvre shows us a silent listening to silence and invites us, imperiously and gently, to share it. For the Christian tradition  , St John the Baptist is the Voice, the Voice that announces the Word that comes. In this painting, this Voice is silent. The splendid and mysterious face   of the Baptist, against a dark background, which intensifies the event of his epiphany, by tearing it away from any context, any circumstance, is turned, with a smile, towards us, and with his right hand he points to the heights. The voice shows the Word, but it does so without words or speech, it invites us to listen to the silence.

[CHRÉTIEN, Jean-Louis. The Ark of Speech. London: Taylor & Francis, 2004]

Ver online : Jean-Louis Chrétien