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Monasteries are enigmatic places. In some sort of way they give an impression of times long gone while simultaneously being timeless. This paradox raises a sense of wonder of what these architectural manifestations are, how they stepped into existence and especially what they have to tell us. Why are they the way they are and what does living in them imply?
Monasteries are shielded off from the outside world by the erection of solid walls and in this way shape an interior culture that differs radically from what’s beyond the wall. It is an order created, and maintained meticulously like a reversed and maybe even twisted mirror image of the outside world. It is the concerted order as opposed to the hustle and bustle noise of the exterior. Discipline as opposed to noise, or so it seems. But where does this separation between the organization of order and the disruption of noise come from? How did it materialize and does it indeed separate the inside and outside? In other words: how can we gain insight in the workings and relevance of the organization of the monastery and its architecture? That is what I want to investigate.
The relevance of architecture for organization has gotten serious attention in the past decades (Albrecht & Broikos (Eds.), 2000; Duffy, 1997; Gagliardi (Ed.), 1990; Gabriel, 2003; Hofbauer, 2000). This means that when thinking about organization and its order the appearance and impact of architecture cannot be neglected. This implies the architecture as it manifests itself plus the intentions of the architect…


Organization is built on the rudiments of the monastery and monastic life. In this the cell plays a crucial part, as the space for contemplation and thinking. However, according to Peter Sloterdijk thinking becomes problematic as the monkish cell offers no messages because God doesn’t answer. The question is if this is also the case for organization. In other words can thinking in organization result in a fruitful endeavor. To investigate this and to get a sense of of any possible options I have retreated into a monastery on two separate occasions. This implies living with the monks and being able to contemplate in my own cell. This can be referred to as becoming monk. The monasteries that I lived in are from the benedictine monk and architect Dom van der Laan and from the architect and artist Le Corbusier together with modern composer and architect Xenakis. Both of these monasteries are specific structures as these were built as Gesamtkunstwerke. This means that it is not just the cell that plays its part but the whole assemblage. With the help of the Heidegerrian notion of Hütten-Dasein and the Serresian notion of becoming-musician I indulged in cell being and becoming monk. This investigation reveals relevant information on organization, architecture, thinking and monastic life.

  • monastery
  • cell
  • Gesamtkunstwerk
  • becoming
  • organization

Devenir moine

L’organisation est construite sur les rudiments du monastère et de la vie monastique. La cellule y joue un rôle crucial, en tant qu’espace de contemplation et de réflexion. Cependant, selon Peter Sloterdijk, la réflexion devient problématique car la cellule monacale n’offre aucun message parce que Dieu ne répond pas. La question est de savoir si c’est également le cas pour l’organisation. En d’autres termes, la réflexion en matière d’organisation peut-elle aboutir à un effort fructueux ? Pour étudier cette question et pour avoir une idée des options possibles, je me suis retiré dans un monastère à deux occasions différentes. Cela implique de vivre avec les moines et de pouvoir contempler dans ma propre cellule. C’est ce qu’on appelle devenir moine. Les monastères dans lesquels j’ai vécu sont ceux du moine bénédictin et architecte Dom van der Laan et ceux de l’architecte et artiste Le Corbusier et du compositeur et architecte moderne Xenakis. Ces deux monastères sont des structures spécifiques car ils ont été construits comme des Gesamtkunstwerke. Cela signifie que ce n’est pas seulement la cellule qui joue son rôle mais l’ensemble de l’assemblage. A l’aide de la notion heidegerrienne de Hütten-Dasein et de la notion Serrissienne de devenir-musicien, je me suis livré à l’être cellulaire et au devenir-moine. Cette enquête révèle des informations pertinentes sur l’organisation, l’architecture, la pensée et la vie monastique.

  • monastère
  • cellule
  • Gesamtkunstwerk
  • devenir
  • organisation
Luc Peters
Dr. Luc Peters is a philosopher and writer. His books include: Cliché & Organization, thinking with Deleuze (nomination Book of the Year 2015), ON MIRRORS! philosophy-art-organization (together with Dr Anthony R Yue), On Noise!, and Frank Lloyd Wright - NOMAD (together with Huubke Rademakers, forthcoming). He is a regular at various conferences like EGOS, APROS or SCOS, and co-organizer of the 2016 CORPORATE BODIES Film Fest. Besides writing he works as a manager, guest lecturer, and consultant, gives masterclasses, and is a hardrock-drummer and torturer of guitars. Between his travels and adventures, Luc lives and works in the Netherlands. More info:
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