Saturday, January 17, 2009

My Life as a Monk

Landscape from cell balcony, Le Couvent de la Tourette, January 2009, J Bowring


Pockets of silence are gifts. Places which are timeless, with infinite capacity to inspire contemplation, beyond the congestion of existence. The tranquillity of the monastery of La Tourette, near L'Arbresle in France, stills the mind. Well below freezing, the landscape is silent. This place where time is frozen becomes home for a short time, yet it feels an eternity. The atmosphere is suffused with mist, and light barely penetrates; time does not seem to pass. Mostly it is near dark; the forests around the monastery close in. The grass and soil crunch during walks across the fields. And amidst it all, Le Corbusier's brooding building, for the Dominican monastery, persists with an immense gravity.


Cell, Le Couvent de la Tourette, January 2009, J Bowring


The cell is minimal, modest, and serves to heighten the consciousness of one's self. Here, there is nothing. And the nothingness is a vast potential, as through the elimination of the 'noise' of existence there is the wealth of silence. It is not allowed to even hold discussions within one's cell. Each cell is reserved for contemplation and study, free from any incursions. To exist in such a way is daunting, exhilarating. The silence falls as a mantle, and the assumption of a contemplative state is inevitable. In the frozen valley below the curls of smoke are the only indicators that time has not come to a complete halt.

2 comments:

DT said...

Wonderful. Hope the re-entry into the world of sound isn't proving too harsh... Lovely photos: I'd be interested to see the interior one in a large format. Hope all is well! Dylan

jacky bowring said...

Thanks Dylan - yes, it's a bit of a shock being back in the 'real' world, or whatever this is ...
I don't know why that image won't click to large format, I just tried re-inserting it but it remains stubbornly small. Can email it to you ... hope things are well there in your new job! ... j...