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“The Silence of the Monks - The Ethics of Everyday Sounds” by Marcel Cobussen in Ethics and Christian Musicking

Point of departure of this meditation on the ethical role of sounds and silences within Christian rites and other religious practices is the documentary Into Great Silence. It is an intimate portrayal of the everyday lives of Carthusian monks of the Grande Chartreuse, a monastery high in the French Alps.

The title of the documentary is derived from the rule that the monks are not allowed to speak, except, murmuring, to God. However, opening one’s ears immediately reveals that there is no such thing as silence. Listening to silence means exploring and foregrounding the background noises of being in order to understand what is hidden behind this discourse of religious and contemplative silence; it means lending an ear to everyday sounds, to biotic as well as abiotic sounds. Hence, we have entered a sonic world, marked by religion and everyday life, environmental and human sounds, nature and culture, God and  the posthuman. This is an aural ethics based on the ability to affect and to be affected, an immanent ethics of interrelatedness.

Please find the book Ethics and Christian Musicking here.

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