Aposiópesis: o silêncio na linguagem dos místicos

Carlos Henrique do Carmo Silva

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The main purpose of this study is to think about silence in mystical language. It draws attention not only to a general usage regarding the unsayable, or ineffable, within ecstatic experience, but also gives value to its precise intermediate meaning, as a specific rhythm of pause. Indeed it is starting from this category of ‘pause’, or aposiópesis, which ever since Greek rhetoric has drawn attention to this kind of reticence, that we remark upon the value of the intimacy and loneliness of spiritual language, thus marked with significant ‘interruptions’. In this introduction to the theme, then, is discussed the allusive status, performative of language and even its fecund deconstruction in the face of the idealization of its paradoxical apophantic character, theoretical expectation and contemplative capacity. In the first part of this study, the polysemic nature of ‘silence’ is clarified, bearing in mind several semantic levels and degrees regarding the essence of the mystic secretum: from the vows of silence and their ‘muteness’, to the gift of ‘saying’ the unsayable, passing through its ascetic, voluntary condition, and also through the passive recognition of mystic ineffability, further stressing the means of constituting such a language formed through a negative way (apophatic theology). The meaning of this mystic silence is then exemplified, not only as a typology, but considered as a scale, using the study case of Sister Marie-Aimée de Jesus, OCD, † 1874, who gradually meditated upon her own experience. In the course of the twelve degrees under consideration, they are put into context and studied, always complemented through annotations in footnotes, through comparisons that reveal the importance of rhythmic differentiation in the practice of mystical silence. In the third and last part, we advise against the temptation of taking silence as a fuga mundi or as a metaphysic of secret silence within some kind of ‘gnostic serenity’, as a sigé, in opposition to the realistic fecundity of some humble, but experienced and well-spoken-of, ‘prayer of quietness’. Appealing to the language of a number of more recent mystics, a synthesis is made of the flowing of love pointing to the gradual intensification of mystic silence in a scale that must be considered as an alternative to its solely contemplative hermeneutics. To this end a useful, synoptic schematization is presented of the typology of silence. Lastly, we leave as a clue for all the appraisal of silence as a pause of wisdom and a holy reticence in the practice of the inner life, the importance of the oriental monastic tradition of hesykhía, as an example in which (albeit simplified), it is still possible to find the differentiations of the several spiritual silences, by the means of this silent prayer as a holistic exercise.
Original languagePortuguese
Pages (from-to)99-184
Number of pages86
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2011

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