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Document Details :

Title: Apophase et affectivité
Subtitle: Des Images pour une Contemplation sans Images - l'Exemple du Corpus du Nuage de l'Inconnaissance
Author(s): TIXIER, René
Journal: Studies in Spirituality
Volume: 20    Date: 2010   
Pages: 115-142
DOI: 10.2143/SIS.20.0.2061146

Abstract :
This paper, originally read in a shorter version at the first international symposium held to honour the work of Fr. Ch.-A. Bernard SJ (Rome, 25-26 Nov. 2005), addresses the complex issue of mystical imagery in spiritual texts. It considers the centrality of the Christian paradox, and its impact on devotional writing. The anonymous corpus of The Cloud of Unknowing (14th cent.) provides a particularly interesting case. The author of this series of letters of spiritual direction teaches a very simple method of ‘dark contemplation’ in keeping with the Dionysian tradition of ‘knowing through unknowing’. Although he strongly advocates a complete rejection of all images, he often relies for his teaching on images from everyday life which reflect several aspects of the loving soul’s desire for union with God. However subdued, the constant current of bridal mysticism that underlies these texts mingles with the negative language of apophatic theology to produce a subtle form of discourse tending towards self-effacement, hence the fascination often exercised by such writings, but also the real risk of their misinterpretation.

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