Friday, March 2, 2007

Der Grosse Stille

I saw Into Great Silence (, the long documentary about life in a monastery of the notably rigorous Carthusian order. It’s a deep, meditative, and beautiful experience to watch. At one point I could hear myself breathing through my nose; this in a pretty full theater. The fidgeting of other patrons, the nearly subliminal burping of a rogue cellphone, all reminded me of the hectic world the brothers have abandoned and the difficulty of finding that quiet center (especially in this town). Movie-going is, in a way, a monastic endeavor, a bunch of people worshipping in silence (usually). Even if you are with someone, it’s usually a solitary experience. There are those moments when your attention is distracted from the screen, of course, which brings up the question the film goes nowhere near: what do the monks do about desire? That’s the rub, isn’t it, always the rub. Not being a Catholic, I’ve never been able to figure out if chastity includes masturbation too.

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