19 décembre 2009

Lewis Mumford - The Myth of the Machine (note de lectura)

Made by Silviu Man.

Volume One - TECHNICS AND HUMAN DEVELOPMENT - Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich Publishers, New York, 1967
Volume Two – THE PENTAGON OF POWER - Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich Publishers, New York, 1970


Chapter 1 – Prologue

Tool-technics, in fact, is but a fragment of biotechnics: man’s total equipment for life.
Until man had made something of himself he could make little of the world around him.
Is this association of inordinate power and productivity with equally inordinate violence and destruction a purely accidental one?

Chapter 2 – The Mindfullness of Man

The burial of the body tells us more about man’s nature than would the tool that dug the grave.
The difference between brain and mind is surely as great as that between a phonograph and the music that comes forth from it.
Beside that achievement of consciousness in a single being, the hugest star counts for less than a cretinous dwarf.
Would have man have ever dreamed of flight in a world destitute of flying creatures?
Because of the extreme complex structure of man’s large brain, uncertainty, unpredictability, counter-adaptability and creativity (that is, purposeful novelty as distinguished from randomness) are constitutional functions.
The fact that order and creativity are complementary has been basic to man’s cultural development; for he has to internalize order to be able to give external form to his creativity.
Until man fabricated a culture, his brain was undernourished and depleted.
If survival were all that mattered to primitive man, he could have survived with no better equipment than his immediate hominid ancestors has possessed.
The critical moment, I suggest, was man’s discovery of his own many-faceted mind, and his fascination with what he found there.

Chapter 3 – In a Dreamtime long ago

From the beginning, one must infer, man was a dreaming animal; and possibly the richness of his dreams was what enabled him to depart from the restrictions of a purely animal career.
Creativity begins in the unconscious; and its first human manifestation is the dream.
Emerson: “We know … vastly more than we digest”.
Our highly mechanized Western civilization has many devices for limiting the province of the dream: we even canalize the subjective life into collective mechanisms like the radio and television, and let a machine do our dreaming for us.
If man had not encountered dragons and hippogriffs in dream, he might never have conceived of the atom.
The infant, too young for language, left completely to himself with a few blocks, will spontaneously place one on top of the other, as Arnold Gessell has experimentally shown, no less surely that he may, at another moment, fling them with a wild gesture to the floor.
Probably man was sky-conscious or season-conscious or earth-conscious and sex-conscious long before he was self-conscious.
Man act out ideas long before they understand them.
Meaningful behavior anticipated meaningful speech.
Wherever we find archaic man, we find no lawless creature, free to do what he pleases…
Ritual […] was the first step toward effective expression and communication thorugh language, so taboo whas the first step to moral discipline. Without both, man’s career might have ended long ago, as so many powerful rulers and nations have ended their lives, in psychotic outbreaks and life-depressing perversions.

Chapter 4 – The Gift of Tongues

Symbolic figures are first of all living figures.
If identified by their technical equipment, the Yahgans could hardly be said to have reached the level of beavers: is it their language that demonstrated that they had grown to human nature. (30.000 words, apud Thomas Bridges)
One of the first efforts of a political conqueror is to suppress the popular language of the conquered; and the most effective means of defence against such suppression, first suggested by Rousseau, is the revival of the national language and its literature.
Obviously, the child is ready for ritual and speech long before his is ready for work.
How much meaning will be left in the world when the scientific observer eliminates his own subjective contribution? No mechanical system knows the meaning of meaning.
Words originally were not merely a means to the performance of magic, but were in themselves the archetypal form of magic.
The passion for mechanical precision which man now pours into science and technics stems originally, if I guess correctly, from the primordial magic of words. – stricteţea, standardizarea ritualului
Every creature knows in the act of living something about life that will forever escape scientific analysis.
Does not this misuse of repetitive spells still continue in the form of advertising and propaganda? Word magic is one of the chief means of attaining power and status in the ‘affluent society’.
Language is the great container of culture.

Chapter 5 – Finders and makers

His biggest find and his first shapable artifact was himself.
Long before even the crudest domestication can be suggested, man must have achieved an encyclopedic of the contents of his environment.
His adaptability, his non-specialization, his readiness to come up with more than one answer to the same problem of animal existence – all this was his salvation.
Possibly the passage from purely symbolic ritual to an effective technics was opened through surgery and body ornament.
If one looks for the first evidence of the wheel, one will discover the earliest form of it, not in the fire drill or the potter’s wheel, but in the hollow ivory rings, carved out of an elephant’s tusk, in Aurignacian finds.
The bow-and-arrow is like nothing whatever in nature: as strange, as peculiarly a product of the human mind as the square root of minus one. This weapon is a pure abstraction translated into a physical form: but at the same time it drew upon the three major sources of primitive technics: wood, stone and animal guts.
Partly through working stone, early man learned to respect the ‘reality principle’: the need for persistence and intense effort in order to achieve a distant reward, as opposed to the pleasure principle of obeying momentary impulse and expecting an immediate response, with little effort. If paleolithic man had been as indifferent to stone as civilized man has long proved indifferent to the organic environment, civilization itself would have never taken form, for, as we shall see, it was originally a Stone Age artifact, shaped by stone tools and stony-hearted men.
Like some hunting tribes to this day, paleolithic hunters possibly begged the slain creatures’ forgiveness, pleading hunger as justification, and limiting to kill to such food as was actually needed. Millennia passed before man would take the life of his own kind in cold blood, without even the excuse, magical or otherwise, of needing to eat them.
“sensory vividness and esthetic tension” – Magdalenian hunter’s abstraction representation of animals in motion

Chapter 6 – Fore-stages of Domestication

Edgar Anderson: “there are five natural sources of caffeine, tea, coffee, the cola plant, cacao, yerba mate and his relatives. Early man located all of this five and knew that they reduced fatigue. Biochemical research has not added a single new source.”

Chapter 7 – Garden, Home, and Mother

Good taste, at least in clothes and food, is a distinctly neolithic contribution.
Here again art preceded utility: glass was first used for decorative beads and iron for finger rings, while in early Jericho the clay figure of a cow preceded pottery – the paleolithic clay bisons had by many thousand years preceded the neolithic milch cow.
Once the domestication of animals reached the stage of utilizing their milk, their blood, or their meat, this new art brought into further use a custom derived directly from ritual sacrifice: the deliberate slaughter in cold blood of man’s playmate, companion and friend. Only the dog and the horse, the earliest and the latest of the domesticates, usually escaped this fate – but in Mexico even the dog did not escape.
[Neolithic village culture:] Wherever the seasons are marked by holiday festivals and ceremonies […] where work, even hard work, is rarely divorced from rhytm, song, human companionship, and esthetic delight […] where neither power nor profit takes precedence of life: where the family and the neighbor and the friend are all part of a visible, tangible, face-to-face community. […] Are we sure that these surviving archaic traditions are mankind’s worst curse – or the greatest obstacle to man’s continued development?
Every member of the community had access to the entire cultural heritage, and could ordinarily master every part of it; and there was no order of authority, no hierarchy of precedence, except the natural one of age, since in such a community, he who lived longest knew most. The easy interchange of skills and occupations, with a minimum amount of specialization, gave village culture a flexibility and a range that counterbalanced its eventual conservatism, one the first experiments in domestication had been made. Even the specialists who became a necessary part of such communities, the potter or the blacksmith, the miller or the baker or the weaver, could on take part in communal work at harvest time.
[In archaic village community, they] had the joy of being at one with themselves and their world: not like the growing mass of unfortunates today, alienated by the sterile environment, the sordid routine, and the faked excitements and amusements of modern city.
Most of the equipment that makes for domestic comfort, the hearth, the chest, the closet, the storeroom, beds, chairs, cooking ustensils, drinking vessels, blankets, woven clothes and hangings – in short, the whole furniture of domestic life – are neolithic and chalcolithic inventions: mostly before 2.000 B.C.

Chapter 8 – Kings as Prime Movers

On these three foundation-stores – communion, communication, and cooperation – the basic village culture has erected.
The great rivers were drainage basins, not only of water, but of culture, not only of plants, but of occupations and technical inventions.
In Mesopotamia two, sometimes three, crops of barley or wheat were possible every year. Under proper management, which was forthcoming, the mainly subsistence economy of the village would be turned into an economy of abundance. The new flood of energy from food, which rivaled that from coal and petroleum in the nineteenth century, provided both the groundwork and the incentive for a new kind of political society. -> “change of pattern”, “change of scale”.
“Civilization” from the beginning was focused on the machine.
Standardization was the mark of the new royal economy in every department. […] Quantification and magnification are the marks of the new technology. Instead of the little neolithic shrine, there stands a towering temple, the ‘Mountain House’, and nearby a huge granary.
The myth of the machine and the cult of the divine kingship rose together.
The historic effort, as recorded on two Egyptian palettes, begins at the point where the paleolithic hunting chief, the first among equals, passes over into the powerful king, who takes to his own person all the powers and prerogatives of the community.
Regularity and security now became a political desideratum.
… the power to deal with current matters [was left] in the hands of a group of elders, but in times of emergency they chose a king to “take charge for a limited period” (Thorkild Jacobsen)
Such submission, such abject self-humiliation, never had a counterpart among the humble members of any village community until ‘civilized’ institutions filtered down from above. But this drill had the effect of turning human beings into ‘things’.
In Greece, […] even posts of ministerial or military command were often assigned to slaves, who were too thoroughly conditioned to obedience to recognize their humiliation.
Primitive society recognizes by and large only two serious crimes: the breaking of the incest taboo and murder. But with the new system of administration and codes of law introduced by kingship, the number of possible crimes increased and the punishments became more terrifying. Disobedience to the orders of a superior was the worst of the sins.
Civilization – the group of institutions that first took form under kingship.
The efforts to create a universal society were delayed, until our own day, by the lack of adequate technical instruments for rapid transportation and instantaneous communication.

Chapter 9 – The Design of the Megamachine

Only kings, aided by the discipline of astronomical science and supported by the sanctions of religion, had the capability of assembling and directing the megamachine. This was an invisible structure composed of living, but rigid, human parts, each assigned to his special office, role, and task, to make possible the immense work-output and grand designs of this great collective organization.
That invention was the supreme feat of early civilization: a technological exploit which served as a model for all later forms of mechanical organization.
If a machine be defined […] as a combination of resistant parts, each specialized in function, operating under human control, to utilize energy and to perform work, then the great labor machine was in every aspect a genuine machine.
Through the army, in fact, the standard model of the megamachine was transmitted from culture to culture.
Accountability and the written word both went along historically with the control of large numbers.
The mechanical agents had first to be ‘socialized’ before the machine itself could be fully mechanized.
Two devices were essential to make the machine work: a reliable organization of knowledge, natural and supernatural; and an elaborate structure for giving orders, carrying them out, and following them through.
For the first time in history, power became effective outside the immediate range of hearing or the arm’s reach.
The bureaucracy was, in fact, the third type of ‘invisible machine’ – one might call it a communications-machine – co-existing with the military and labor machines, and an integral part of the final totalitarian structure.
While the labor machine largely accounts for the rise of ‘civilization’, its counterpart, the military machine, was mainly responsible for the repeating cycles of extermination, destruction, and self-extinction.

Chapter 10 – The Burden of ‘Civilization’

Ideally, the megamachine’s personnel should consist of celibates, detached from family responsibilities, communal institutions, and ordinary human affections: such day-to-day celibacy as we actually find in armies, monasteries and prisons. For the other name for the division of labor, when it reaches the point of solitary confinement at a single task for a whole lifetime, is the dismemberment of man.
Pugnacity and rapacity and slaughter for food are biological traits, at least among the carnivores: but war is a cultural institution.
The invention of the megamachine, as the perfected instrument of royal power, produced the new purposes that is was later supposed to serve. In this sense, the invention of the military machine made war ‘necessary’ and even desirable, just as the invention of the jet plane made tourism ‘necessary’ and profitable.
The two poles of civilization, then, are mechanically organized work and mechanically organized destruction and extermination.
The one lasting contribution of the megamachine was the myth of the machine itself: the notion that this machine was, by its very nature, absolutely irresistible.
War in its all disruptive spontaneity temporarily overcame the built-in limitations of the megamachine. – eliberarea prin război
The Bronze Age chariot preceded the general use of wagons of transportation, burning oil was used to repel enemies besieging a city before it was employed for powering engines or heating buildings.
The scythe was attached to chariots for mowing down men before it was attached to agricultural mowing machines.
Plainly many of the mechanical triumphs of our own age were already latent in the earliest megamachines, and what is more, the gains were fully anticipated in fantasy.
From the beginning, the balanced of mechanized power seems to have fallen on the side of destruction.
Until real machines of wood and metal could be manufactured in sufficient quantity to take the place of most of the human components, the megamachine would remain vulnerable.
This small-scale organization [of Jews], though as unarmed and open to oppression as a village, could maintain itself active nucleus of self-sustaining intellectual culture for over twenty-five hundred years, when every larger mode of organization, based on power alone, had disintegrated.

Chapter 11 – Invention and the Arts

Almost from the beginnings of civilization, we can now see, two disparate technologies have existed side by side: one ‚democratic’ and dispersed, the other totalitarian and centralized.
For those who were drafted into the megamachine, work ceased to be a sacred function, willingly performed, with many pleasurable rewards in both the act and its fruitition: it became a curse.
The maker and the object made reacted one upon the other. Until modern times, apart from the esoteric knowledge of the priests, philosophers and astronomers, the greater part of human though and imagination flowed through the hands.
Our machine-infatuated age
To sacrifice esthetic invention or functional ‚rightness’ in order to double the output, or even to hurry the process of production, was foreign to the whole scheme of pre-mechanized civilization, whether democratic or authoritarian.
No article, even of vulgar daily use, was regarded as finished, unless it bore some unmistakable stamp, by its painting or modelling or shaping, of the human spirit. This mass of esthetic inventions compares favorably to with the total mass of mechanical inventions during the last few centuries. But so far from suppressing technics, as our current economy suppresses art, these two modes of invention interacted. This current separation between art and technics then, is, a modern solecism.
Hero of Alexandria designed a windmill to work an organ, and later, steam was generated to work and organ bellows, long before the either force was used to pump out a mine.
It was the decorative, the symbolic, and the expressive arts that progress was maintained, even in ages that, in retrospect, otherwise seemed stagnant.
A.N. Whitehead: “So far as their individual freedom is concerned, there was more diffused freedom in the City of London in the year 1633… than there is today in any industrial city of the world”.

Chapter 12 – Pioneers in Mechanization

As early as 1066, when William the Conqueror seized England, there were 8.000 watermills, serving less than one million people. At the very modest estimate of 2.5 horsepower per mill, this was twice the energy that was available through the assemblage of the 100,000 men who built the Great Pyramid, and probably more than twenty times in relation to the population of their respective countries.
Even in backward mining communities, as late as the sixteenth century more than half the recorded days were holidays; while for Europe as a whole, the total number of holidays, including Sunday, came to 189, a number even greater than those enjoyed by Imperial Rome.
The idea that there should be no limits upon any human function is absurd: all life exists within very narrow limits of temperature, air, water or food; and the notion that money alone, or power to command the services of other men, should be free of such definite limits is an aberration of mind.
Where capitalism prospered, it established three main canons for successful economic enterprise: the calculation of quantity, the observation and the regimentation of time (‘Time is Money’), and the concentration on abstract pecuniary awards. Its ultimate values – Power, Profit, Prestige – derive from these sources and all of them can be traced back, under the flimsiest of disguises, to the Pyramid Age.
Leonardo: “men shall walk without moving [motorcar], they shall speak with those absent [telephone], they shall hear those who do not speak [phonograph]”.
Is the intelligence alone, however purified and decontaminated, an adequate agent for doing justice to the needs and purposes of life?
Leonardo, for example, invented the submarine [but] he deliberately suppressed the invention “on the account of the evil nature in men, who would practice assassination at the bottom of the sea”.
Inventions in Medieval Age: velocipede and military tank (Fontana), diving suit and infernal machine (Konrad Keyeser von Eichstadt), toxic gas
John Stuart Mill – ‘Principles of Economies’: it is doubtful if all the machinery then available had yet lightened the day’s labor of a single being.
Within a century or two, the ideological fabric that supported the ancient megamachine had been reconstructed on a new and improved model. Power, speed, motion, standardization, mass production, quantification, regimentation, precision, uniformity, astronomical regularity, control, above all control – these became the passwords of modern society in the new Western style.


Chapter 1 – New Explorations, New Worlds

What was truly new for Western man was the exhilariating sense that, for the first time, every part of the planet was accessible.
1. The exploration of abstract symbols, rational systems, universal laws, repeatable and predictable events…
2. The exploration of the concrete and the organic, the adventurous, the tangible.
 In both modes of exploration, there was from the beginning a touch of defiant pride and demonic frenzy.
 Both movements, to begin with, were characterized by an unconcealed hostility to the past.
Campanella : according to the contemporary astrologers the coming age would have more history within a hundred years “than all the world had had in the four thousand years before”.
Within half a dozen years after Columbus’ landing the Spaniards, a contemporary observer estimated, had killed off one and a half million natives.
Not merely slavery but genocide gained ground with the New World exploration.
Hunting parties in Tasmania – slaughter the natives.
… released from the provincial presence of an over-insistent here and now.
If the present generation has now lost the sense of the liberation, it is because all too soon seventeenth-century science imprisoned the mind in an ideology that denied the realities of biological self-transformation and historic creativity.
If the living present could be visibly transformed, or at least deliberately modified from a Gothic to a Classic structure, so could the future be remolded, too.
For the first time, it would seem, the future, however untried, was more attractive than the past.
A trap: for in order to overcome time, in order to begin anew, it was imperative for him not to run away from the past, but to confront it, and literally to live down its traumatic events within himself.
With every fresh invention their debt to the machine became heavier, as the canal, the steamship, the railroad, the telegraph brought the two new Worlds even closer together. The more prosperous the New World settlement, the less use it had for its own primitive foundations, once dearly prized, later sentimentally over-celebrated.
What were the Indian ‘reservations’ but early concentration camps?
Alexander von Humboldt: “In the American forests, as well as elsewhere, experience has taught all beings that benignity is seldom found together with power”.
If anything, the finders and collectors have served the needs of life more fruitfully than the fabricators and the manipulators.
In wrecking them [cultures disrupted by Western man] he was reducing his own intellectual working capital. E.g. : rubber plant, quinine…
The underlying notion of ‘improvement by movement’ curiously bound together both the roving frontiersmen of the New World and the mechanical pioneers, who have for the last three hundred years devoted no small part of their energies to speeding every form of the mechanical transportation.
These two artifacts of glass technics [telescope and microscope] wrought a far more radical transformatiom of human life than did the steam engine.

Chapter 2 – Return of the Sun God

Viewed through the glass of science, man shrank in size.
The mechanical regularity already achieved in machines, above all, in clockwork, provided the miniature replicas of absolute cosmic order. ->
The association of the new astronomy with the revival of divine kingship and centralized political power was no mere accident, still less is it a meretricious conceit.
The first mark of the Sun God’s ascendancy, then, came not in technics, but in government: the new religion re-enforced both ideologically and practically belief in power, inordinate and unqualified power.
Astrology made still another contribution to exact science: it established as a canon of faith a belief in the strictest sort of determinism.
Butterfield: “Copernicus rises to lyricism and almost to worship when he writes about the regal nature and central position of the sun”.
Plainly, it was not the new truths that astronomy disclosed about the vastness of physical nature, but old truths man neglected about himself that diminished his stature and importance. Those who looked upward and outward and forward, and were prepared to traverse astronomical distances, forgot to look downward and inward and backward.
The new world that astronomy and mechanics opened up was in fact based upon a dogmatic premise that excluded from the outset not only the presence of man but the phenomena of life. […] Not the man but the machine became the central feature in this new world picture.
If one ignores the religious aura that hung over the great scientific discoveries in the period between Copernicus and Newton and never entirely faded away, one missed the hidden subjective contribution of the new outlook and its great source of sacred power.
Kepler’s rhetoric is the language of religious adoration, perfervid, exalted.
New World of geographic exploration, New World of the machine.
The new ideology fostered an intense interest in space, time, motion, in their widest cosmic setting, not the setting in which organisms actually function in their earthly habitat, intermingled with other organisms, and pursuing their own further life-potentialities. Abstract motion took possession of the Western mind.
Speed shortened time: time was money: money was power.
Science produced no martyrs – though there were in fact religious martyrs, like Michael Servetus, and humanist martyrs, like Giordano Bruno.
Once, indeed, scientists decided to exclude theology, politics, ethics, and current events from the sphere of their discussions, they were welcomed by the heads of state.
Science, I repeat, produced many ‘saints’, dedicating their lives with monastic devotion to their discipline – but no notable rebellious martyrs against the political establishment. Yet, as we shall note later, that alienation and renunciation are at last perhaps under way.
By formal declaration of Northern American states had abolished slavery; but the shovel gangs of the Irish and Chinese immigrants who built the railroads were, during their working span, hardly to be distinguished from slaves, if only temporary slaves.
So when one consideres the three components of the New World dream, the utopian, the romantic and naturalistic, and the mechanical, one must realize that the first two had vanished as tangible possibilities well before the last frontier had been conquered. This left the mechanical impulse dominant.

Chapter 3 – The Mechanized World Picture

Galileo’s dismemberment of the human organism; for he treated the mind as if it could function without all the other members of the body.
To understand the physical world, and ultimately man himself, who exists in this world as merely a product of mass and motion, one must eliminate the living soul. At the center of the new world picture man himself did not exist, indeed he had no reason for existence.
In interests of ‘objectivity’, the new scientist eliminated historic man and all his subjective activities. Since Galileo’s time, this practice has been known as ‘objective science’.
Galileo, in all innocence, had surrended man’s historic birthright: man’s memorable and remembered experience, in short, his accumulated culture.
Galileo accepted Kepler’s baseless notion that the brain was a specialized organ peculiarly adapted to handling mathematical information; and that to achieve such intelligible order, all other avenues of information must be sealed off.
The only world that human beings move about in with some confidence is not Galileo’s ‘objective’ world of primary qualities but the organic world as modified by human culture, that is, by the symbols of ritual and language, by the diverse arts, by tools and utensils and practical activities, by geotechnic transformation of landscapes and cities, by laws and institutions and ideologies.
The experience of reality in the higher organisms, particularly man, involves a continued oscillation between the inner and the outer, the subjective and the objective fields, and this reality is not limited but falsified by a one-sided account.
David Hume: “If we take in our hand any volume, of divinity or school metaphysics, for instance, let us ask, Does it contain any abstract reasoning concerning matter of fact and existence? No. Commit it then to the flames; for it can contain nothing but sophistry and illusion”.
More than one scientist has lately said that any work of science more than ten years old is not worth considering.- exemplul cu Faraday şi proto-computerul lui Babbage.
Consequences of the new scientific philosophy:
1. The invention and the multiplication of machines
2. An abstract numerical notation referring to weight or number – to goods offered to sale.
The transformations of science resembled those of the marketplace in that they both required a neutral medium of exchange.
First, the scientist excluded himself, and with himself a good part of his organic potentialities and his historic affiliations, from the world picture he constructed. As this system of thought spread into every department, the autonomous worker, even in his most reduced mechanical aspect, would be progressively excluded from the mechanism of production. Finally, should these postulates remain unchallenged and the institutional procedures remain unchanged, man himself will be cut off from any meaningful relationship with any part of the natural environment or his own historical milieu.
Leibniz’s salient description between accurate knowledge and adequate knowledge.
By utilizing only a part of the human self to explore only a part of its environment, the new science successfully turned the most significant attributes of life into purely secondary phenomena, ticketed for replacement by the machine.
The progressive reduction of the dimensions of life involved far more serious humiliations than the discovery that the earth was not the center of the universe.
All through the nineteenth century, the major voices in science proclaimed, as confidently as Huygens and Newton had done, not simply that the laws of mechanics are the only laws needs for an adequate explanation even of life and mind, and that no other non-mechanical behavior need to be looked for.
‘it is absurd to try to express the existence of something that cannot possibly be described’ – theoretic limit of a scientist
Frank O’Connor being told by his mother how the babies are conceived: “mummies had an engine in their tummies and daddies had a starting handle that made it work, and once it started it went until it made a baby.”

Chapter 4 – Political Absolutism and Regimentation

Descartes : ‘… thus render ourselves the lords and possessors of nature’. The language of the last sentence is obviously not the language of the disinterested speculative scientist.
From the nineteenth century on, science’s preoccupation with man’s one-sided mastery over nature took another turn: that of seeking artificial substitutes for every natural process, replacing organic products with manufactured ones, and eventually turning man himself into an obedient creature of the forces he had discovered or created. Ironically, the duplication of urea, an animal waste product, was the first great triumph of such research!
The destruction of organic complexity was the prime condition for effecting mechanization and total control in every department.
The stripping away of the constituent groups that composed any real community – the family, the village, the farm, the workshop, the guild, the church – cleared the way for the uniformities and standardizations imposed by the machine.
In rejecting the cumulative contributions of history, Descartes lost sight, lost, of both the significance of nature and nature of significance, and failed to understand their independence.
Descartes elevated the scientist into an absolute lawgiver.
Causal analysis, by definition, has no concern with final ends or human purposes.
Taken by themselves, machines present a puzzle, not an explanation. The answer to that puzzle lies in the nature of man.
As machines became more lifelike, Western man taught himself to become in his daily behavior more machine-like.
The distinguishing mark of actual machines, even the most life-like of computers, is that its powers and functions are derivative: their increasingly lifelike qualities are all secondhand.
Organisms most closely resemble machines in those lower functions that have passed out of consciousness, while machines resemble organisms in those higher functions associated with purposive designs.
Unlike an organism, which is an open system […] mechanisms are closed systems.
The obedient slave [machine] first made himself indispensable to the master [science], then defied and dominated him, and finally supplanted him.
Comenius: “I maintain that it is not possible for one teacher to teach several hundred scholars at once, but that is also essential”. […] Is it surprinsing that he also provided for the eight-hour working day and the forty-eight-hour week?
For Comenius, as for his fellow-encyclopedist J.H. Alsted, and later for John Locke, the mind of man was a blank sheet of paper.

Chapter 5 – Science as Technology

If science and technics have not been officially married, they have long lived together in a loose common-law relationship that it is easier to ignore than to dissolve.
To assume that accurate, positive knowledge did not exist until the scientific method was invented is to overpraise contemporary achievements by belittling those of a different order that laid the solid foundations for them.
A.N. Whitehead termed the greatest invention of the nineteenth century: “the invention of invention”. Purely theoretic and experimental discoveries repeatedly suggest outlets and applications that could not even have been conceived until the scientific work itself was done.
Quite possibly it was not by accident that the electronics of radar location coincided with coordinate advances in high-speed flight.
… freaks and follies unrelated to human need, but technologically attractive because of their very difficulty.
Necessity had always been a most reluctant mother of invention: Bacon understood that ambition and curiosity were far more fertile parents, and that the inventions so promoted would become the mother of the new necessities.
If ‘meaning means association’, as Gray Walters observes, then dissociation and non-intercourse must result in decrease of shared meanings. Thus in time, specialized knowledge, “knowing more and more about less and less” finally turns into secret knowledge.
Bacon’s aphorism, “Knowledge is power” […] was a declaration of intention and it meant emphatically that power was important.
In establishing headquarters outside the University, the exponents of science not merely asserted their independence from traditional knowledge, but turned their backs upon any effort to present a unified and inclusive view of the world.
Science now makes all things possible, as Bacon believed: but it does not thereby make all things desirable.

Chapter 6 – The Polytechnic Tradition

Curiously enough, the scholars who first popularized the notion of medieval backwardness read their documents with spectacles first invented in the 13th century, published their ideas in books produced on th printing press of the 15th century, ate bread made of grain ground in windmills introduced in the 12th century, sailed by the sea in three-masted ships first designed in the 16th century, reached their destination with the aid of the mechanical clock, the astrolabe, and the magnetic compass, and defended their ships against pirates with the aid of gunpowder and cannon, all dating before the 15th century, while they wrote on paper and wore woolen or cotton clothes fabricated in watermills that date back at least to the 3rd century B.C. in Greece.

The effective inventions of the 18th and early 19th century, apart from the steam engine - the spinning jenny, the flying shuttle, the power loom – occurred in the ancient Neolithic industries: spinning, weaving and pottery.
Long before rapid transportation and communication became mechanically possible, this polytechnics had broken through national barriers and drawn upon a planet-wide culture. Since this vital agricultural revolution owed nothing to later mechanization till the middle of the 19th century, its significance has been played down, or completely overlooked.
To equate technical development with the machine alone is literary to place the cart before the horses. The very term we still use for units of work, horsepower, betrays this original debt to medieval technics, with its improved shoeing and harnessing of horses.
Immense polytechnical heritage: if the watermill went back to pre-Christian Greece and the windmill to eighth-century Persia, the plow, the loom and the potter’s wheel went back two or three thousand years further. […] The bow that won the battle of Crecy for the English was a Paleolithic invention, once used in hunting Magdalenian bison.
… in fact – the community’s total response to life – took form in these supreme technological achievements.
Except in servile industries like mining, playful relaxation, sexual delight, domestic tenderness, esthetic stimulation were not spatially or mentally separated completely from the work in hand.
The purpose of art has never been labor-saving but labor-loving.
Such an economy had something that we now have almost forgotten the meaning of leisure: not freedom from work, which is how our present culture interprets leisure, but freedom within work, and along with that, time to converse, to ruminate, to contemplate the meaning of life.
Medieval technics not merely introduced new inventions like the silk-reeling machine (1272), block printing (1289), the spinning wheel (1298) and the wire pulling machine (1350), but expanded and perfected older industries, like glass-making and glass-blowing. […] The first large-scale use of glass was not for utilitarian but for esthetic purposes: the great windows of the Lady Churches of the 13th century.
No culture had to wait for the “industrial revolution” for endless modifications and qualitative improvements.
The relation between the soul and its God, between the serf, the armed retainer, and the lord, between the apprentice and the master, between the guildsman and the city, even between the king and his people, was a personal relation, too complex and too subtle to be confined to a specific function or limited to a specific contractual agreement, since it involved the entire life.
… a system of mechanization and automation that ignored the human premises upon which older agricultural handicraft technologies had been founded.
Diderot’s encyclopaedia counted as many as two hundred and fifty crafts.
John Nef: the steam engine was launched by the Industrial Revolution rather than that it was the cause of it.
Appearance of the patent system and the joint stock company, with limited liability – gave advantage to machine operations over the small surviving workshops that utilized local materials and local hand labor.
Absentee ownership, the cash nexus, managerial organization, military discipline, were from the beginning the social accompaniments of large-scale industrialization.
It was in the production of muskets that this method [fabricating machines with standardized and therefore replaceable parts] first became widely adopted [although the priority of this belongs to the inventors of printings].
It was in the army, finally, that the process of mechanization was first effectively applied on a mass scale to human beings, through the replacement of irregular feudal or citizen armies, intermittently assembled, by a standard army of hired or conscripted soldiers, under the severe discipline of daily drill, contrived to produce human beings whose spontaneous or instinctive reactions would be displaced by automatic responses to orders. Military regimentation proved the archetype for collective mechanization, for the megamachine it created was the earliest complex machine of specialized, interdependent parts, human and mechanical.
This dehumanization of the living worker was complemented, paradoxically, by the progressive hominization of the machine – hominization of the lifelike motion and purpose, a process that has come to a striking consummation in our days.
If the first [polytechnic economy] was in fact inherently a scarcity economy, how was it that it could afford to put so much energy into works of art and religion, that it could waste so much manpower in war, that the wealthy could retain such large armies of retainers and menials?
Benjamin Franklin’s estimation – well before megatechnics had taken hold – that if work and reward and consumption standards were more evenly distributed, a five hour day would suffice to supply all human needs. If, on the other hand, the machine economy has now transcended these limitations, how it is that in the United States more than a quarter of the population lacks an income sufficient to provide a minimum standard of living.
Emperor Vespasian’s refusal to accept a labor-saving device for lifting building stones up the Capitoline Hill, because it would deprive the ‘little people’ of their work and wages.
Had Leonardo’s moral sense hot have been awake, he would not have suppressed his invention of the submarine, because he felt that the soul of the man was too devilish to be trusted with it.

Chapter 7 – Mass Production and Human Automation

The historical progress may be condensed in a brief formula: manual work to machine work; machine work into paper work: paper work into electronic simulation of work, divorced progressively from any organic functions or human purposes, except those that further the power system.
The productivity of every earlier system of production was restricted, not merely by available natural resources and human capacity, but by the variety of non-utilitarian demands that accompanied it.
Postulates of the new industrial system:
Man has only one all-important mission in life: to conquer nature. By conquering nature the technocrat means, in abstract terms, commanding space and time … -> there is only one efficient speed, faster; only one attractive destination – farther away; only one desirable size, bigger; only one rational quantitative goal, more. On these assumptions the object of human life, and therefore of the entire productive mechanism, is to remove limits...
Thanks to the proficiency of the machine, the problem of older societies, that of scarcity and insufficiency was – at least in theory – solved: but a new problem, equally serious but at just the opposite extreme, was raised: the problem of quantity.
The point is that the most massive defects of automation are those that arise, not from its failures, but from its indisputable triumphs.
Derek Price calculated that at the present rate of acceleration in scientific productivity alone, within a couple of centuries there will be dozens of hypothetic scientists for every man, woman, child, and dog on the planet.
Automation has thus a qualitative effect that springs directly from its quantitative accomplishments: briefly it increases probability and decreases possibility.
John von Neumann: “Technological possibilities are irresistible to man. If man can go to the moon, he will. If he can control the climate, he will”.
Geneticist Hermann Muller, speaking of the possibilities of using banks of frozen human sperm cells taken from ‘geniuses’: “Their mere existence will finally result in an irresistible incentive to use them”
The secret motto of our power-oriented society: “You may, therefore you must”.
If the world we have put together with the aid of science is, by its own definition, a world that excludes values, by what logic can we assign values to either science or automation?
Norbert Wiener: “priests of power”.
Stuart Mill and Norbert Wiener : “the sum total of human potentialities in any community is infinitely richer than the limited number that can be installed in a closed system”
There is a difference between using the machine to extend human capabilities, and using it to contract, to eliminate, or replace human functions.

Chapter 8 - Progress as ‘Science Fiction’

The animus behind technical innovations
Mechanical progress and human progress came to be regarded as one.
They measured progresss by the number of antiquated institutions that could be cast off.
Until the invention of symbols, technological progress thorugh manipulation and manual work played only a small part in that basic transformation.
Despite the wide array of machines produced during the last two centuries, it is mainly by vechicles of transportation – the steamboat, the rail, the motor car, the plane, and the rocket – that the advances of modern technology have been identified in the popular mind.
For like every other technical achievement, speed has a meaning only in relation to other human needs and purposes.
In the classic philosophies and religions, the notion of perfection had been directed almost exclusively to the cultivation of self or the salvation of the soul. [...] The Doctrine of Progress, on the other hand, conceived important as external and automatic: no matter what the individual desired or chose, so long as the community accepted the multiplication of machines and the consumption of the machine’s typical products as the chief goal of human effort, progress was ensured.
What is the meaning of these many efforts [utopias] to identify the possibilities of human happiness with an authoritarian, or often indeed a grimly totalitarian society?
Berdiaev: How can we return to a non-utopian society, less ‘perfect’ and more free.
The real use of utopias was their service as ‘trial balloons’, anticipating one or another form of the collective termitary we have been bringing into existence. […][The utopias] are subjective anticipations of formidable actualities that have proved all too easy to accomplish – thanks to technology. Utopia, in other words, is the secret destination of the invisible, all-embracing mega-machines.
Harvey Wheeler: “instant information creates instant crisis”.
Here is a situation without any parallel in human history. In the past, every invention passed through a long period of probation between its first appearance of fantasy, its intermediate stages of composition and invention, and its materialization as a working apparatus or machine.
Thus at the moment that the actual powers of technical invention have become unbridled, its compulsions and obsessions remains untempered by reality, since the only reality this society fully accepts is that which embodies these materialized psychoses and fixed ideas. On those terms, technics becomes licensed irrationality.
A soulless perfection

Chapter 9 – The Nucleation of Power

What made this prospective transformation socially dangerous was not the expansion of energy by itself, but the coincident release from moral inhibitions and life-conserving taboos, practices that had proved essential to human survival from the earliest stages on.
Components of the machine:
- Cosmic religious preparation
- Centralization of political power
- Bureaucracy and the army
Up automatism; down autonomy.
War is the body and the soul of the megamachine.
The reassemblage of the ancient invisible machine took place in three main stages, at considerable intervals:
1. 1789 – The French Revolution – reinstated with far greater power the abstract counterpart of the traditional king, the National State
2. 1914 – The First World War – the enlistment of the scholars and scientists as an arm of the state, and the placating of the working classes by universal suffrage, social welfare legislation, national elementary education, job insurance
3. 1917 – Bolshevik revolution – the inheritance in the bureaucracy the most perfect surviving example of the ancient megamachine, untouched by economic competition and industrial efficiency.
Even when deployed against whole cities, not military targets, official inquiry revealed that only twenty per cent of the bombs dropped during the Second World War by the American Air Force fell on the designated areas. From London and Coventry to Hamburg, Dresden, Tokyo, and Hanoi, the minuscule military results were hugely disproportionate to the industrial effort needed.
Churchill […] retailed against the Nazis by adopting the same totalitarian method; and in 1942 the American Air Force followed suit. This was an unconditional moral surrender to Hitler.
Something worse that the invention of a deadly weapon had taken place: the act of making the bomb has hastened the assemblage of the new megamachine; for in order to keep that megamachine in effective operation once the immediate military emergency was over, a permanent state of war became the condition for its survival and further expansion.
The medium of war had proved an ideal broth in which every kind of lethal organism could multiply. [by the converging paths of science and war]
Megamachines compared:
- Both are mass organizations capable of performing tasks that lie outside the range of the small work-collectives and loose tribal or territorial groups.
- The modern megamachine has progressively reduced the number of the human agents and multiplied the more reliable mechanical and electronic components: not merely reducing the labor force needed for a colossal operation but facilitating instantaneous remote control.
- Both megamachines are oriented toward death

Chapter 10 – The New Megamachine

“When the members of my department meet once a week at luncheon table, we never talk about our own work. It has become too private for words. We take refuge in gossip about the latest car models or motor boats” – a physicist to Lewis Mumford.
The Organization Man may be defined briefly as that part of the human personality whose further potentialities for life and growth have been suppressed for the purpose of controlling the fractional energies that are left, and feeding them into a mechanically ordered collective system.
In every country there are now countless Eichmanns in administrative offices, in business corporations, in universities, in laboratories, in the armed forces: orderly obedient people, ready to carry out any officially sanctioned fantasy, however dehumanized and debased.
Dr. Stanley Milgrim’s experiment in The Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology:
Forty subjects of various ages were recruited and told that the experiment was a scientific investigation of the effect of punishment, by electric shock, upon the learning process. The subjects were seated at console with thirty switches. Visible in the next room, separated by a glass wall, was seated a voluntary ‘learner’ duly coached to act his specified part, supposedly in an ‘electric chair’ but actually unconnected with any current. According to the label on the switches used by the subjects, each switch gave a predetermined shock, ranging from mild to severe, as a penalty for making a mistake. After the switch labeled ‘Danger: Severe Shock’ there were two other switches bearing the ominous marks XXX! By instruction, the pseudo-learner reacted by crying out as if in pain when the 300-volt switch was flipped, though he banged on the wall demanding that the ‘teacher’ continue. At this point ten more switches remained, indicating increased intensity of voltage and pain.
Out of forty subjects only fourteen defied the experiment’s instructions and refused to cooperate further when the response registered showed intense pain or torture. To their credit as human beings, some of the subjects who continued were emotionally disturbed by the experience: yet ‘in the interest of science’ sixty-five per cent of the continued beyond the danger point.
Hermann Muller: ‘Man as a whole must rise to become worthy of his best achievement. Unless the average man can understand the world that the scientists have discovered, unless he can learn to comprehend the techniques he now uses, and their remote and larger effects, unless he can enter into the thrill of being a conscious participant in the great human enterprise and find genuine fulfillment in playing a constructive part in it, he will fall into the position of an ever less important cog in a vast machine. In this situation, his own powers of determining his fate and his very will to do so will dwindle, and the minority who rule over him will eventually find ways of doing without him’.
But liberation from what? Liberation from the conditions under which man has flourished: namely, in an active, give-and-take, mutually rewarding relationship with a varied and responsive ‘un-programmed’ environment, human and natural – an environment full of difficulties, temptations, hard choices, challenges, lovely surprises, and unexpected rewards.
Erich Fromm: ‘Escape from freedom’.
An historian of science; “Taking up Crick’s point about the humanist argument whether one has a right to have children, I would say that in a society in which the community is responsible for people’s welfare – health, hospitals, unemployment insurance etc. – the answer is No”
In ‘Genetics and the Future of Man’, a social scientist, highly respected as a population expert, has declared that deliberate genetic control is ‘bound to occur’, and once begun “it would soon benefit science and technology, which in turn would facilitate further hereditary improvement, which in turn would extend science, and so on in a self-enforcing spiral without limit. […] When man has conquered his own biological evolution, he will have laid the basis for conquering everything else. The Universe will be his, at last”.
The seemingly solid older megamachine with its rigid limitations and predictable performance might give rise to the exact antithesis: an electronic anti-megamachine programmed to accelerate disorder, ignorance, and entropy. In revolt against totalitarian organization and enslavement, the generation now responding to McLuhan’s doctrines would seek total ‘liberation’ from organization, continuity, and purpose of any sort, in systematic de-building, dissolution and de-creation.
Communication is now on the point of returning, with the aid of mechanical devices, to that instantaneous reaction of person to person with which it began.
The lifting of restrictions upon close human intercourses has been, in its first stages, as dangerous as the flow of populations into new lands: it has increased the area of friction … [and] has mobilized and hastened mass-reactions, like those which occur on the eve of the war.
The maintainance of distance both in time and space was one of the conditions for rational judgement and cooperative intercourse, as against unreflective responses and snap judgements.
Audio-visual tribalism (McLuhan’s ‘global village’) is a humbug. Real communication, whether oral or written, ephemeral or permanent, is possible only between people who share a common culture.
Electronic Tower of Babel.

Chapter 11 – The Megatechnic Wasteland

The working quarters of the priesthood, called research centers or think tanks.
Minds content to exploit the medium and ignore the message are irrational end-products of what has been uncritically called ‘rationalization’.
With exquisite symbolic accuracy, the first object of space exploration was a barren satellite, unfit for organic life, to say nothing about of permanent human habitation.
Humanly speaking, space technics offers a new style of non-existence: that of the fastest possible locomotion in an uniform environment, under uniform conditions, to an equally undistinguishable uniform destination.
Since technics is, at every point, a function of life, the excessive overgrowth and over-integration of ‘technical’ processes must threaten, like any other organic imbalance, many equally essential functions of life.
Teilhard de Chardin: ‘The Big Brain thinks, therefore I am not’.
Such a description of the ultimate reign of pure intelligence is not science but mythology and eschatology.

Chapter 12 – Promises, Bribes, Threats

The dogma of ‘increasing wants’ as an indispensible basis for further industrial progress.
Instead of the duty to work, we now have the duty to consume.
To ensure rapid absorbtion of its immense productivity, megatechnics resorts to a score of different devices: consumer credit, installment buying, multiple packaging, non-functional designs, meretricious novelties, shoddy materials, defective workmanship, built-in fragility.
The aim of industry is not primarily to satisfy essential human needs with a minimal productive effort, but to multiply the number of needs, factitious and fictitious, and accommodate them to the maximum mechanical capacity to produce profits. These are the sacred principle of the power complex.
Not the least effort of this system is that of replacing selectivity and quantitative restriction by indiscriminate and incontinent consumption.
Thus the shorter working day promised by this system is already turning into a cheat. In order to achieve the higher level of consumption required, the members of the family must take on extra jobs. […] The effect, ironically, is to turn the newly won six- or seven-hour day to twelve or fourteen hours; so in effect, the worker is back where he started, with more material goods than ever before, but with less time to enjoy them or the promised leisure.
If all these goods are in themselves sound and individually desirable, on what grounds can we condemn the system that totalizes them? So say the official spokesmen.
All these goods remain valuable if more important human concerns are not overlooked or eradicated.
Unqualified successes in over-quantification.
When a scientist in good repute, like Dr. Lee du Bridge, can defend the wholesale immediate use of pesticides, bactericides, and possibly equally dangerous pharmaceuticals, by saying that it would take ten years to test them sufficiently to certify their value and innocuousness and that ‘industry cannot wait’ – it is obvious that his rational commitments to science are secondary to financial pressures, and that the safeguarding of human life is for industry not a matter of major concern.
The ironic effect of quantification is that many of the most desirable gifts of modern technics disappear when distributed en masse, or when – as with the television – they are used too constantly and too automatically.
No umbilical cord attached man to nature: neiter ‘security’ nor ‘adjustment’ were the guidelines to human development.
Patrick Geddes: Conditions of degeneration in the organic world are approximately known. These conditions are often of two distinct kinds, deprivation of food, light, etc. so leading to imperfect nutrition and enervation; the other, a life of repose, with abundant supply of food and decreased exposure to the dangers of the environment. It is noteworthy that while the former only depresses, or at most distinguishes the specific type, the latter, through the disuse of the nervous and other structures etc. which such a simplification of life involves, brings about that far more insidious and through degeneration seen in the life history of myriads of parasites.

Chapter 13 – Demoralization and Insurgence

The medium not only replaces the message but likewise the subject to whom the message was once addressed.
Both non-art and anti-art meet the exact specifications of the Power Complex: unrestricted productivity, instant achievement, large profits, immense fashionable prestige, blatant self-advertisment.
Psychiatrists, a generation ago, discovered that painting was one of the many manual crafts thorugh which patients could work their way back to reality. Fashionable non-art and anti-art now perform precisely the opposite function.
Anti-art acclimates modern man to the habitat that megatechnics is bringing into existence.
Before man had created a firm over-layer of culture, through ritual and language, he was dangerously open to the random, often destructive and suicidal promptings of his own unconscious. That danger still remains.

Chapter 14 – The New Organum

Darwin himself, as a person, made an even more important contribution to the organic world picture that Darwinism, the hypothesis that the struggle for existence and the natural selection of the fittest account for the modification of the species.
The chief properties of a power economy – the magnification and over-expansion of power alone, and the lack of qualifications, limits, and boundaries – are antithetic to those of an organic system.
The only way effectively to overcome the power system is to transfer its more helpful agents to an organic complex.

Epilogue: The Advancement of Life

Francis Bacon: Mere power and mere knowledge exalt human nature but do not bless it.

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19 novembre 2009

Chantal Delsol – Icarus Fallen. The search for meaning in an uncertain world (note de lectura)

Made by Silviu Man.

ISI Books, Wilmington, Delaware, 2003. Translated from the French by Robin Dick


Events shape men, and so does the lack of events.

A society that fears greatness silences its expansive possibilities.

Hope […] indicates a sort of pre-knowledge.

[Man] is caught in a trap of what he is no longer able to come or interpret.

He who knows the why, as Nietzsche said, can tolerate any how.


One cannot accept death if one does not know why one lives.

Existence […] is no longer a sign of anything.

Liberty would have never have acquired any reality at all if no one had ever become its servant.

Man’s existence and the reference he points to, therefore, are intertwined and grow from each other.

Modern freedom signifies only that the subject is free to choose what he will be responsible for.

... paradoxically, existence actually finds true happiness in the anxiety of unresolved questions, and suffocates in the identification of itself with the object of its expectations.

abandonment in his independence


Man in the modern era, by raising his pretensions a notch upward, found the meaning of his existence in the hope of forever abolishing the antinomies between which his ancestors had always struggled.


Decree that religions are obsolete and you will have sects. Deny that human beings seek the good, and the ghost of the good will appear surreptitiously under the guise of correct thinking.


We hold dearly to the good, but we are suspicious of truth.

The good without the true is thus justified by satisfaction.

In a sense, if we do not seek truth, it is precisely because we are afraid we might actually find it. In its excesses it engenders everything we hate. It is as though truth – or what is deemed truth – will inevitably lead to evil.

rejecting all certainties in the name of a hatred for fanaticism.

An absolute good, however, would naturally entail obligation, and this would necessary limit individual freedom. Thus, the morality has been reduced primarily to the act of identifying evil.

Simultaneously with the rejection of any idea of the objective good, a discourse of the obligatory good has developed.

In a world of values, there is no absolute.

Absolute good rests on objective realities, it takes root in truth, in the knowledge of a good from which one cannot escape.

Ortega y Gasset : we have ideas, but we are our beliefs.

Today, however, we refuse to even ask ourselves the question “What is true?” so that the only question that remains for us to ask is, “How can we live well?”


Our “open-minded” man, in contrast, in characterized by his disowning of any exterior point of reference. This is what makes him historically unique.

Not all Greeks are Socrates, but the existence of Socrates allows other Greeks to name their own existence, and to assign a reason for it.


Thoughtful moral judgement establishes a relationship between a situation and certain points of reference. It compares, weighs and doubts. Every situation takes its place on a scale and is compared to a pre-existing model. Reactive moral judgement, on the other hand, is all that remains – and it is not nothing – after the collapse of scales and models. It instinctively rejects evil, as if it were blinded by it. Its only scale is emotion.

Seeking good while remaining indifferent to truth gives rise to a morality of sentimentality.


... we are living under a clandestine, unnamed ideology that maintains its power precisely because it remains hidden.


One of the paradoxes about democracy lies in the fact that, as a sort of equilibrium, it must always be legitimized and defended, while as a source of well-being, it tends to numb and sedate its beneficiaries.

In an idolized democracy, the intellectual is replaced by the ideologue.


Yet we now have a tendency to choose public officials filled with abstract, intellectual knowledge of politics but with little experiential knowledge of society. (exemplul grecilor cu bătrânul lup de mare şi tânărul ce abia a absolvit şcoala navală).


While in the past, man spoke of his honor, contemporary man invokes his dignity. […] he now finds both dignity and respect by claiming his rights.


Over a course of two centuries, we have gone from a society of roles to a society of functions. A role is conferred in advance, often described in the destiny of the individual, and alienable. A function is chosen by the individual, is exterior to him, and he appears interchangeable in that function.

A society of roles is hierarchical and differentiated. A society of functions tends toward equality and homogeneity.


Progress is probably infinite in its realization, but the resulting good has shown itself to be finite.


The astonishing thing is that we know our existence is limited, but do not know relative to what.

Patocka’s man sounds the depths of the sea. We are watchmen of enigmas.

Animals are unaware of enigmas: this is precisely why we have so much trouble today distinguishing what really separates us from them, for we now are also unaware of enigmas, at least for the time being.

The ideologue distroyes life in order to rid it of imperfection.


It is a pretty safe bet that in war-torn Sarajevo or Grozny, no one was particularly concerned with arachnofobia.

In A.D. 256, when the Persian army took Antioch from the Roman Empire, the inhabitants found themselves at the theater, oblivious to the enemy archers who had climbed behind them in the stands, while the actors desperately tried to warn the spectators.

The value of life is proportional to what one is willing to risk for.

Our ancestors, who did not know the kind of security we enjoy today, did know that future held the unexpected within it. As fatalists, they knew to expect the twists and turns of fate, not being able to prevent them.


Life is also nourished by what is missing.

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30 octobre 2009

Martin Lings - Un Saint soufi du XXe siècle (note de lectura)

Sous-titre: Le cheikh Ahmad al-‘Alawî. Héritage et testament spirituels. Version française parue en novembre 1990, Editions du Seuil.
Titre original: A Sufi Saint of the Twentieth Century. Shaikh Ahmad al-‘Alawî. Georges Allen & Unwin Ltd, 1971, 1973.
Parole soufie: « Celui dont l’âme ne fond pas comme neige au creuset de la religion, de celui-là la religion fond comme neige au creux de la main. »

Première partie: La confrérie et la voie

1. Rencontre avec le cheikh Al-‘Alawî
Cette partie est une longue citation de Dr Marcel Carret, qui a eu le privilège de visiter et de soigner le cheikh Al-‘Alawî durant les dernières années de sa vie.
Sur le cheikh: « Ce qui me frappa tout de suite, ce fut sa ressemblance avec le visage sous lequel on a coutume de représenter le Christ. Ses vêtements, si voisins, sinon identiques, de ceux que devait porter Jésus, le voile de très fin tissu blanc qui encadrait ses traits, son attitude enfin, tout concourait pour renforcer encore cette ressemblance. L’idée me vint à l’esprit que tel devait être le Christ recevant ses disciples, lorsqu’il habitait chez Marthe et Marie. » (p. 16-17)
Les Européens de l’Afrique du Nord vivaient à l’époque de la colonisation dans un telle ignorance de la vie intime de l’islam que, pour eux, un cheikh ou un marabout était une espèce de sorcier, qui n’a d’importance qu’en raison de l’action politique qu’il pouvait exercer.
Le terme « faqîr » (pl. foqara), qui signifie « pauvre », dans le sens évangélique de « pauvre en esprit », est couramment employé pour désigner les membres d’une confrérie.
Le mot « zâwiyah » (littéralement « coin ») indique l’endroit (souvent une mosquée avec des dépendences), où se rencontrent les membres d’une confrérie. Les confréries soufiques jouent en Islam un rôle somme tout analogue à celui des ordres monastiques dans le christianisme, mais leurs membres ne pratiquent pas le célibat.

2. Les origines du soufisme
Le mot « mystique » n’est adéquat pour traduire « soufi » que s’il est employé dans son sens originel désignant l’homme qui connaît ou cherche à connaître des « mystères du Royaume des cieux ».
Le terme « soufisme » (taçawwuf) a été employé en islam après la deuxième ou la troisième génération, mais la réalité est ancrée profondément dans cette religion.
Les racines du soufisme remontent à la retraite spirituelle pratiquée, avant l’islam, par les ermites « abrahamiens » connues en Arabie sous le nom de Hunafâ.
Le Coran est le Verbe éternel et incrée de Dieu.
Dans le christianisme, c’est le Christ qui constitue la Révélation, non les Evangiles.
L’attestation que le Coran est révélé est un point fondamental de l’orthodoxie musulmane. La voie des mystiques est virtuellement présente dans sa totalité en certains passages coraniques où l’impact de la « substance » coranique reçoit une certaine direction de l’impact du sens.
Une des premières injonctions adressées au Prophète fut: « Invoque le nom de ton Seigneur et consacre-toi totalement à lui. » (Coran LXXIII, 8)
On peut dire que le nom Allâh est le canevas sur lequel est tissé le texte coranique.
Sans l’effacement du « moi » dans la « servitute », le « rapprochement de Dieu » ne peut être réalisé.
Un des noms du Prophète est ‘Abd Allâh (le serviteur de Dieu). Un autre nom est Habib Allâh (l’Aimé de Dieu).
Le Prophète Muhammad a laissé deux sortes de sentences: hadith qudsi (sentences sacrées), où Dieu parle à la première personne par la bouche du Prophète, et hadith sharîf (nobles sentences).
Tout le soufisme se trouve résumé dans le verset: « Mon serviteur ne cesse de s’approcher de Moi, par des actes de dévotion surérogatoires, jusqu’à ce que Je l’aime, et quand Je l’aime, Je suis l’Ouïe avec laquelle il entend, la Vue avec laquelle il voit, la Main avec laquelle il combat et le Pied avec lequel il marche. » (Bukhârî, 37)
Il existe, dans le Coran, une distinction hiérarchique entre les hommes. Ainsi, les simples croyants s’appellent « Compagnons de la droite », en opposition avec les « Compagnons de la gauché », les damnés. Les membres de la première catégorie seront nombreux parmi les premières et nombreux parmi les dernières générations. Au-dessus viennent les « Précesseurs », qui sont multitude parmi les premières générations et minorité dans les dernières. Ceux-ci sont littéralement ceux que Dieu a rapprochés de Lui-même, et ils boivent à la fontaine Tasnîm. Au-dessus viennent les « Justes », ceux qui boivent un breuvage parfumé au camphre, provenant de la fontaine Kafûr. La dernière catégorie sont les « Serviteurs de Dieu », les seuls qui ont directement accès à la fontaine kafûr.
La « servitude » et la « proximité » sont deux aspects du degré spirituel suprême. La première exprime l’extinction (fanâ’), l’autre la permanence (baqâ’) en Dieu.
Les saints s’abreuvent à Kafûr en tant que « Serviteurs » et à Tasnîm en qualité de « Proches ».
Le Christ s’exprime devant le peuple au moyen de paraboles, d’une manière analogue, le Coran exprime les mystères au moyen d’aphorismes suffisamment elliptiques pour échapper aux mésinterprétations des profanes, mais néanmoins doués d’une grande puissance d’expression.
L’écart entre l’exotérisme et l’ésotérisme est analogue à la différence entre géométrie plane et géométrie à trois dimensions; la dimension supplémentaire de l’ésotérisme est alors, analogiquement parlant, une dimension de « profondeur » ou de « hauteur ».
Baidâwî a dit: « Les réalités du monde céleste sont d’abord perçues par le cœur. »
Les sages de l’Orient et de l’Occident ont considéré le cœur comme le « trône de l’intellect ».
- la nuit correspond à l’âme;
- la lune au cœur;
- le soleil à l’esprit.
« De même que la lune est le dernier éclat de la lumière diurne dans l’obscurité de la nuit, de même le cœur est l’ultime reflet de la lumière divine – c’est-à-dire de la connaissance immédiate (gnose) – dans l’obscurité de l’âme; même dans sa forme la plus intellectuelle, la science propre à l’âme est tout mentale et n’a pas le caractère immédiat de la connaissance. » (p. 46)
Symbolisé par l’œil du cœur, l’intellect est l’organe de la vision transcendante.
Le cœur est le point où s’active le soi humain et où commence le soi transcendent.
Le mot « gnose » correspond au terme arabe ma’rifah. Le mot « gnostique », désignant l’homme qui parvient à cette connaissance, correspond au terme arabe (‘ârif).
Hadith: « Rien ne reste de ce monde, si ce n’est l’épreuve et l’affliction. »
Hadith: « Aucune époque n’adviendra pour vous qui ne soit suivie d’une époque pire encore. »
La couronne de la gnose soufie est le verset: « En vérité, nous appartenons à Dieu et c’est à lui que nous retournerons » (XXIV, 35; LVII, 3; II, 156).
L’invocation de la bénédiction divine est comparable à plus d’un titre à l’Ave chrétien.
Durant les six ou sept premiers siècles de l’islam, la tension entre la dérivé générale vers le bas de la communauté prise globalement et le mouvement vers le haut de la voie mystique a produit une sorte de développement secondaire du soufisme, qui n’est ni ascendant ni descendant et qui n’altère en rien les données essentielles.
Pour nombre d’orientalistes, le soufisme consiste en un ascétisme héroïque ponctué par des poèmes mystiques, des traités et des expressions paradoxales, choses totalement absentes durant les deux premières générations de l’islam, et dont aucune ne peut être considérée comme un trait essentiel du soufisme.
Les générations ultérieures de musulmans étaient moins capables que leurs prédécesseurs de faire la synthèse de deux énoncés apparemment contradictoires, autrement dit, l’activité intellectuelle avait cédé la place à une activité mentale.
Maxime soufie: « Recueille la connaissance de la poitrine des hommes, non des hommes. »
Maxime soufie: « Celui qui connaît Dieu, sa langue ne s’agite plus. »
Après le Coran et le Prophète, la troisième autorité suprême est ijmâ, l’accord unanime de ceux qui possèdent la science du Coran et des traditions (sunnah).
L’ijtihâd d’un groupe de personnes qualifiées a une autorité inférieure à celle de l’ijmâ’.
Les divergences entre les quatre grandes écoles musulmanes de droit canon résultent de l’ijtihâd différent de chacune d’elles. Mais chacune de ces écoles reconnaît cependant aux trois autres le droit de professer ses propres opinions.
L’islam comprend trois degrés:
- l’abandon ou la soumission (islâm au sens légal du terme);
- la foi (îmân);
- la vertu (ihsân).
L’islâm a été consacré par les écoles canoniques. L’îmân a été consacré par la théologie scolastique. L’ihsân est devenu, selon l’ijtihâd de Junaid et d’autres soufis, une branche organisée de la religion.
Les confréries soufiques sont nées pour conserver l’ihsân, qui était spontané dans les premières générations de l’islâm.
« De cette prédominance de l’« amour » dans la mystique chrétienne d’une part, et d’autre part de la « connaissance », c’est-à-dire de la gnose, dans le soufisme, il résulte que bien des termes couramment utilisés en l’une et l’autre de ces formes peuvent prêter à des malentendus s’ils sont pris hors de leur domaine propre. Mais, à la lumière de l’hindouisme, où les deux perspectives se côtoient, on peut savoir tout de suite, par exemple, que les ordres monastiques (« contemplatifs », dans l’Eglise catholique romaine) sont plus proches de la voie d’amour que de celle de la gnose. D’autre part, ce qu’on a appelé la « voie d’amour soufie » s’apparente beaucoup plus au jnâna qu’à la bakhti, car pour elle, l’amour se situe dans le cadre général de la connaissance. » (p. 52)
Hasan al-Baçri a dit: « Celui qui connaît Dieu L’aime et celui qui connaît le monde s’en détourne. »
Hadith: « Sois en ce monde comme un étranger ou un passant. » (Bukhârî)
Hadith: « Qu’ai-je à faire de ce monde? Lui et moi sommes pareils à un cavalier et à l’arbre sous lequel il cherche ombrage. Puis il poursuit son chemin, laissant l’arbre derrière lui. » (Ibn Mâjah)
L’art sacré est une expression des mystères et il jaillit directement du plus profond de la religion qui est la sienne.

3. L’homme par lui-même
Le cheikh naquit à Mostaganem, en 1869.
Son nom complet était Abu’l-‘Abbâs Ahmad ibn Muç-tafa’l-‘Alawî.
Le cheikh est mort le 11 juillet 1934.
Les soufis sont connus comme les « Gens » (al-qaum) en vertu de la tradition suivante et d’autres traditions analogues: « En vérité, Dieu a des anges, noble troupe de voyageurs, qui recherchent sur terre les assemblées du dhikr. Quand ils en découvrent une, ils se pressent en foule au-dessus de cette assemblée, aile contre aile, de sorte que les plus élevés d’entre eux se trouvent dans le Ciel. Dieu leur dit: « D’où venez-vous? » et ils répondent: « Nous venons de Tes serviteurs qui sont en train de Te glorifier, de célébrer Tes louanges et d’attester qu’il n’est pas de Dieu si ce n’est Toi, qui T’implorent et cherchent Ta protection. » Alors Dieu dit: « Soyez témoins que Je leur ai pardonné, que Je leur ai accordé ce pour quoi ils M’implorent et que Je leur ai assuré Ma protection contre ce à l’égard de quoi ils La recherchent. » Alors les anges disent: « Seigneur, parmi eux, assis au milieu d’eux, se trouve un pécheur. » Et Dieu dit: « A lui aussi, J’ai pardonné, car il est au milieu des gens (qaun) dont le compagnon qui s’assied avec eux ne sera pas maudit. » (Muslim, 8)
Le premier attachement a été auprès d’un des maîtres de la tarîqah ‘Isâwiyyah.
Certaines pratiques, comme avaler le feu ou charmer les serpents, sont répandues dans la tarîqah ‘Isâwiyyah, du moins dans certaines de ses branches. On en fait remonter l’origine au fondateur de cet ordre, Muhammad ibn ‘Isâ (mort en 1523). S’étant attiré la jalousie du sultan de Meknès, il reçut l’ordre de quitter la ville avec ses disciples. Ils n’avaient pas de provisions pour cet exode et furent bientôt extrêmement affamés; aussi, les disciples prièrent-ils leur Maître, qui avait la réputation de faire des miracles, de leur donner quelque nourriture. Ce dernier leur dit qu’ils pouvaient manger tout ce qu’ils trouvaient sur la route et, comme il n’y avait là que des cailloux, des scorpions et des serpents, ils mangèrent ceux-ci et apaisèrent leur faim sans en ressentir aucun mal.
Puis le disciple Al-‘Alawî a rencontré le cheikh Al-Bûzîdî. Et ce fut la grande rencontre.
Le cheikh Al-‘Alawî a cité plusieurs fois Abu’l-Hassan ash-Shâdhilî, son ancêtre spirituel: « La vision de la Vérité vint en moi et ne voulut plus me quitter, et c’était plus que je ne pouvais en supporter, aussi je demandai à Dieu de mettre un voile entre elle et moi. Alors une voix m’interpella, disant: « Même si tu l’implorais comme seuls Ses prophètes et Ses saints et Muhammad Son bien-aimé savent L’implorer, Il ne te séparerat pas d’elle par un voile. Mais, demande-Lui de te rendre assez fort pour elle. » Je demandai donc la force et Il me fortifia – louange à Dieu! »
Hadith: « Parle aux hommes selon la capacité de leur intelligence. »
Après la mort du cheikh Al-Bûzîdî, Al-‘Alawî devient cheikh à sa place.
Les visions sont souvent prises comme facteurs de décision par les soufistes. La base est traditionnelle: le Prophète avait dit: « La vision d’un croyant est la quarante-sixième partie de la prophétie. » (Bukhârî), encore: « Les visions viennent de Dieu et les rêves de Satan. » (Bukhârî)
« Un des disciples du cheikh, le seul d’entre eux avec qui j’ai eu un contact direct, me faisait remarquer, une fois, qu’une vision manifeste son origine spirituelle dans sa texture même, par une fraîcheur et une clarté dont les rêves ordinaires, projections du subconscient sont complètement dépourvus. Il ajouta que l’une des caractéristiques secondaires de la vision est qu’elle est souvent suivie, immédiatement, d’un état de pleine lucidité sans aucun processus intermédiaire de réveil. » (p. 74)
L’initiation consiste « à opérer une greffe sur une souche ancienne, [chose qui] est étrangère au monde moderne, excepté sur un plan matériel. Mais, dans le monde ancien, elle était aussi et surtout pratiquée sur des plans supérieurs. L’éloignement des mystères étant devenu pour l’homme une seconde nature, il était considéré comme indispensable, avant son entrée sur le chemin qui y conduit, de greffer sur la souche « déchue » - qui est, par définition, dominée par la connaissance purement mentale, et donc non mystique – du bien et du mal un greffon de la nature humaine primordiale. » (p. 80)
Note rédigée par Martin Lings: « Par extension, l’initiation était également considérée nécessaire à l’accomplissement de toute fonction – sacerdotale, royale, chevaleresque – qui implique que son détenteur soit intégralement humain, c’est-à-dire qu’il soit un médiateur entre le ciel et la terre, comme elle l’était aussi pour la pratique d’un art ou d’un métier – telle la maçonnerie – qui, en vertu de son symbolisme, peut trouver place dans la voie des mystères. A travers l’initiation, le novice acquiert une nouvelle hérédité spirituelle. Mais cette restauration virtuelle de la norme humaine originelle de la sainteté ne dispense pas l’initié de la tâche redoutable qui consiste à l’actuation, c’est-à-dire de veiller à ce que la nouvelle greffe croisse et fleurisse et à empêcher la souche ancienne de se réaffirmer. » (p. 80)
Au point de départ d’une religion, la question de l’initiation ne présente aucune urgence, car les premiers croyants sont dans l’étreinte d’une intervention divine, à un moment cyclique qui est « meilleur que mille mois », et dans lequel les anges et l’Esprit descendent. Comme ils se tiennent alors auprès d’une des sources majeures de la spiritualité, les germes latents en eux peuvent être irrigués aussi facilement qu’on peut être arrosé d’eau lorsqu’on se tient à proximité d’une fontaine ou d’une cascade. Mais au fur et à mesure que la caravane s’éloigne de l’oasis et parcourt le désert des siècles, les hommes s’avisent que l’eau très précieuse n’est plus en suspension dans l’air et que, désormais, on ne peut la trouver que dans certains réceptacles.
Le premier rite de transmission spirituelle, connu en Islam est le pacte d’allégeance, qui fit descendre, sur ceux qui l’accomplirent, le Ridwân divin. Ce mot, ont les traductions habituelles sont trop faibles, revêt une signification considérable quand il est utilisé à propos de la Divinité. De nombreuses traditions déclarent que la Béatitude en question est plus excellente que le Paradis, et les « Compagnons de l’arbre » - noms sous lequel on indique ceux qui la reçurent à cette occasion – furent spécialement vénérés de leur vivant et après leur mort.
Selon le récit du cheikh Al-‘Alawî, son entrée dans l’ordre Darqâwî a été faite d’abord par le pacte initiatique d’allégeance, puis il a reçu la transmission des litanies de l’ordre, et, finalement, il a été initié à l’invocation du Nom.
Aucun soufi ne se considère comme qualifié pour la pratique méthodique d’une invocation si elle ne lui a été conférée par une initiation formelle.
En dehors de l’initiation normale qui marque l’entrée dans la voie spirituelle, on peut obtenir le rattachement à une chaîne « pour sa bénédiction », comme le fit le cheikh Al-Madanî après son retour à Médine.
Il est très difficile de reconstituer les filiations des différentes branches soufiques. Par exemple, Haçan al-Basrî (640-727), au cours de sa longue vie, a reçu des transmissions variées de nombreux compagnons du Prophète.
Le voyage en Tunisie et en Turquie.

4. Le Maître spirituel
On a dit que le cheikh a passé dix ans en Orient: en Egypte, en Syrie, en Perse et dans l’Inde. En réalité, son seul voyage dans le Proche-Orient eut lieu peu de temps avant sa mort, lorsqu’il fit le pèlerinage à la Mecque et à Médine, poussa jusqu’à Jérusalem et Damas et revint à Mostaganem.
Berque écrit: « Nous avons connu cheikh Benalioua, de 1921 à 1934. Nous l’avons vu lentement vieillir. Sa curiosité intellectuelle s’aguisait chaque jour et, jusqu’à son dernier souffle, il resta un fervent de l’investigation métaphysique. Il est peu de problèmes qu’il n’ait abordés, guère de philosophies dont il n’ait extrait la substance. » (Revue africaine, 1936, p. 691-776)
Quand il avait du temps, le cheikh trouvait un aliment dans la méditation du Coran et du sunnah, et dans l’étude de certains traités soufis, en particulier ceux d’Ibn-‘Arabî et de Jîlî.
Il appréciait aussi les odes d’’Umar ibn al-Fârid, dont il connaissait par cœur de longs passages.
« A moins de se contenter de laisser entendre que Dieu est un monstre d’injustice, de caprice et d’inefficacité, on doit considérer que les paroles du Christ: « Nul ne viendra au Père que par moi » ont été prononcées par lui en tant que Logos, Parole de Dieu, dont non seulement Jésus, mais, par exemple, les avatars de l’hindouisme, et aussi le Bouddha, sont des manifestationsl et de même que « le Verbe est devenu chair », de même les Vêdas, la Torah et le Coran sont « le Verbe devenu livre ». Mais depuis que tant de peuples, en particulier d’origine européenne et méditerranéenne, sont incapables d’adhérer sérieusement à une religion sans penser qu’elle est la seule ou qu’elle bénéficie d’un privilège exceptionnel, il est à l’évidence providentiel que le mot du Christ cité plus haut soit compris par la plupart des chrétiens dans un sens exclusif, comme référée seulement à l’unique manifestation du Verbe, et que le musulman moyen, parce qu’il ne dénie pas les autres religions, ait tendance à en rejeter la validité sur les temps pré-islamiques. » (p. 90-91)
Le pape Pie XI, déclarait confidentiellement au cardinal Facchinetti, qu’il venait de désigner comme délégué apostolique en Libye: « Ne pensez pas que vous allez auprès d’infidèles. Les musulmans reçoivent le salut. Les voies de la Providence sont innombrables. » Ces mots ont été rendus publics dans L’Ultima, Florence, année VIII, no 75-76, p. 261.
En Islam, c’est la perspective de la connaissance qui l’emporte sur celle de l’amour, et le soufi est essentiellement un gnostique. Le soufisme est moins un chemin bordé de tentations et de distractions qu’un passage à travers une nature sauvage dont chaque pierre peut être instantanément transformée en joyau.
Le soufi ne peut manquer de s’intéresser, potentiellement, à toutes les autres religions révélées. En tout cas, il sera plus ou moins obligé de conserver extérieurement les préjugés de la majorité de ses coreligionnaires afin d’éviter de créer un scandale.
Le Prophète a promis pour chaque siècle un rénovateur (mujaddid) de la foi. Il semble que pour le XXe siècle, ce fut le cheikh Al-‘Alawî. Avant lui, ce fut le grand cheikh Ad-Darqâwî.
Berque a dit, sur le cheikh Al-‘Alawî: « Il émanait de lui un rayonnement extraordinaire, un irrésistible magnétisme personnel. Son regard agile, lucide, d’une singulière attirance… Très affable, courtois, en retrait, tout de nuances et d’attitude volontiers conciliante… On sentait en lui une volonté tenace, une ardeur subtile qui, en quelques instants, consumait son objet. »
Un des disciples, sur le cheikh: « Quand il parlait, il semblait presque négligent, comme s’il avait compté sur quelque aide extérieure, et, en même temps, il maîtrisait les cœurs et leur imposait son point de vue. »
Un autre disciple, toujours sur le cheikh: « Il parlait à chacun selon sa capacité intellectuelle et sa disposition particulière et, lorsqu’il s’entretenait avec quelqu’un, il semblait que cette personne fût la seule au monde qu’il aimât. »
Le cheikh a introduit comme élément de méthode la pratique de la khalwah, c’est-à-dire de la retraite spirituelle dans la solitude d’une cellule isolée ou d’un petit ermitage. Si le souvenir de Dieu est l’aspect positif ou céleste de toute voie mystique, son aspect négatif ou terrestre est le renoncement à tout ce qui est autre que Dieu.
Selon Abd al-Karîm Jossot, le cheikh a dit: « La khalwah est une cellule dans laquelle je place le novice après qu’il a juré de ne pas la quitter pendant quarante jours si besoin est. Dans cet oratoire, il ne doit rien faire d’autre que répéter continuellement le nom divin (Allâh) en prolongeant à chaque invocation la syllabe âh jusqu’à ce qu’il soit à bout de souffle.
Préalablement, il doit avoir récité la shahâdah (lâ ilâha illa Llâh, « il n’y a de Dieu que Dieu ») soixante-quinze mille fois.
Durant sa retraite, il jeûne rigoureusement tout le jour, ne rompant son jeûne qu’entre le coucher du soleil et l’aube… quelques foqara obtiennent l’illumination soudaine au bout de quelques minutes, d’autres seulement après plusieurs semaines. Je connais un faqîr qui a attendu huit mois. Chaque matin, il me disait: « Mon cœur est encore trop dur », et il poursuivait sa khalwah. A la fin, ses efforts furent récompensés. » (p. 96)
En dehors de l’hostilité des autres zawâyâ, le cheikh dut faire face aux attaques des ennemis du soufisme.
« La plupart des gens étant portés à s’irriter contre ce qu’ils ne comprennent pas, tout détracteur de la voie mystique, si grossiers et si inintelligents que soient ses arguments, est à peu près assuré, aujourd’hui, de susciter par ses paroles un concert d’approbation; non seulement parmi ceux qui sont antireligieux, mais aussi – et peut-être surtout – chez une certaine catégorie de croyants. » (p. 99)
Dans l’islam, chaque croyant est, en un sens, un prêtre.
Hadith: « Abu Hurairah a dit: « J’ai gardé précieusement en ma mémoire deux dépôts de connaissance que je reçus de l’Apôtre de Dieu. J’ai divulgué l’un; mais, si je divulgais l’autre, vous me couperiez la gorge. »
Hadith: « On ne verra jamais la terre manquer de quarante hommes dont le cœur est comme le cœur de l’Ami du Tout-Miséricordieux. » (On comprend par l’Ami – Abraham).
Etant donné le génie du rythme propre aux Arabes, une pratique aussi simple et aussi élémentaire que le dhikr des Darqâwâ-‘Alawîyyah pouvait se fixer en une génération.
Aux yeux des soufis, l’assujettissement du corps à un mouvement rythmé est une aide et rien de plus. Son but est de faciliter le dhikr, au sens de concentration de toutes les facultés de l’âme sur la vérité divine.
La connaissance de la vertu du rythme fait partie de l’héritage de l’homme primordial, et tous les hommes la possèdent instinctivement, qu’ils en soient conscients ou non.
« Le rythme, comme toutes les autres forces cosmiques et potentiellement sacrées, telles celles qui sont mises en œuvre dans la magie par exemple, peut être perverti et tourné dans la mauvaise direction. Il est dès lors d’une importance vitale de savoir distinguer le « rythme blanc » du « rythme noir », et il y a peu de doute sur celui des deux qui est le plus familier à l’Occident moderne. Inutile de dire que les mots « blanc » et « noir » sont utilisés ici sans aucune signification ethnologique. A en juger par le peu que nous avons eu la possibilité d’entendre le rythme de la plupart des Africains dans leur pays natal est éminement « blanc ». » (p. 103)
La danse sacrée des soufis entre dans une catégorie plus générale de pratiques résumées par le mot arabe tawâjud.
Ibn Qayyim al’Janziyyali, autorité de l’islam exotérique, a dit: « Le tawâjud est la recherche d’un état d’extase (wajd) par un effort délibéré, et il y a divergence d’opinions pour savoir si c’est légitime ou non. La vérité est que si quelqu’un fait effort en vue d’accroître sa réputation, c’est blâmable, mais si c’est pour obtenir un hâl (réalisation partielle et transitoire d’un degré) spirituel ou un maqâm (réalisation intégrale et permanente d’un degré spirituel), c’est justifié. » (p. 104)
Hadith: « Pleurez, et si vous ne pleurez pas, alors essayez de pleurer. »
On rapporte que le Prophète considérait que, de toute sa famille, celui qui lui ressemblait le plus était son cousin Ja’far à qui il dit une fois: « Tu me ressembles à la fois par la physionomie et par le caractère »; sur quoi, Ja’far ne pouvant trouver de mots pour exprimer sa satisfaction se mit à danser en présence du Prophète.
Dans l’Islam, l’accomplissement des rites est considéré comme ardent ou tiède selon l’intensité de notre souvenir de Dieu pendant que nous les accomplissons.
Dans ses derniers conseils, le cheikh ‘Ali al-Jamal recommanda au cheikh Ad-Darqâwi de suivre, lui et ses disciples, l’exemple du compagnon du Prophète, Abû Hurairah, en portant leur rosaire autour du cou. Le cheikh Al-‘Alawî autorisa, par exception, ses disciples orientaux à le porter à la main, s’ils le désiraient, selon l’usage général de leurs pays. Mais lui même, ainsi que ses disciples algériens et marocains continuèrent, comme les autres, Darqâwâ, à suivre la recommandation du cheikh ‘Alî al-Jamal. Leurs grains de bois taillés en larges disques font de ces rosaires des colliers d’une remarquable virilité, très différents des rosaires du Moyen-Orient, plus petits et plus fins, aux grains ronds, généralement d’ambre ou de nacre, et que l’on tient habituellement à la main.
Au Maghreb comme en Orient, les rosaires ont généralement quatre-vingt-dix-neuf grains, ils se terminent par une pièce, nommée alif, ayant à peu près la forme d’un doigt qui achève la centaine; c’est le nombre le plus souvent prescrit par le Prophète pour la récitation des formules. Pour réciter mille fois une formule, les soufis placent devant eux dix cailloux ou objets quelconques et en retirent un à la fin de chaque centaine. Pour les litanies plus courtes, dont chaque formule est généralement répété trente-trois fois, la plupart des rosaires comportent un petit alif, ou une borne de division d’une autre forme après le trente-troisième et le soixante-sixième grain.
Les exotéristes bornés taxent d’hypocrisie tous ceux qui utilisent le rosaire.
Il est visible chez le chaikh Al-‘Alawî l’absence de projets en ce qui concerne les détails, ainsi que son habitude de compter sur une inspiration qui puisse lui indiquer ce qu’il faut faire.
Bien que le terme Al-Insan al-Kamil, utilisé par les soufis pour désigner l’état de réalisation spirituelle suprême, transcende infiniment la nature humaine, il n’inclut pas moins, sur le plan terrestre, une perfection humaine intégrale qui implique non seulement une absence statistique des défauts mais aussi, dynamiquement, une réaction parfaite à l’égard de chaque circonstance de la vie; c’est-à-dire une réaction entièrement conforme à la volonté du ciel.
L’essence intime de l’islâm est l’istislâm (adhésion de plein gré à la volonté divine).
Delacroix, dans Etudes d’histoire et de psychologie du mysticisme, dit que le chaikh Al-‘Alawî est saisi par le « on d’action créatrice de la plupart des grands mystiques ». Sur le même grand personnage, il a écrit aussi: « Sa foi était débordante, communicative, toute en lyrisme jaillissant. Mais, en même temps, il gardait un sens aigu du fait et de son utilisation immédiate. Il appartenait à cette classe d’esprits si fréquents en Afrique du Nord, qui peuvent passer sans transition de la rêverie à l’action, de l’impondérable à la vie, des grands mouvements d’idées aux infinitésimaux de la politique indigène. »
Le cheikh Al-‘Alawî était aussi conscient que son maître du fait qu’aucune purification n’est complète si elle n’inclut pas la purification des idées fausses comme celle de toutes les autres impuretés psychiques.
Le cheikh a fondé un hebdomadaire religieux en 1912, Lisân ad-Dîn, qu’il a remplacé en 1926 par un autre, Al-Balâgh al-Jazâ’îrî.
Maintes fois, As-Salafiyyah ont provoqué la colère et les sarcasmes du cheikh.
En tant que guide spirituel, le cheikh Al-‘Alawî savait que les vêtements, qui forment l’ambiance immédiate de l’âme humaine, ont un pouvoir incalculable de purification ou de corruption. Dans toutes les civilisations théocratiques, c’est-à-dire dans toutes les civilisations à l’exception de la civilisation moderne, le vêtement a été inspiré par la conscience que l’homme est le représentant de Dieu sur terre. En particulier, le vêtement arabe de l’Afrique du Nord-Ouest, turban, bournous et djellaba, qui n’a pas changé depuis des siècles, est une combinaison parfaite de simplicité, de sobriété et de dignité, et il conserve ces qualités jusque dans les haillons.

Deuxième partie. La doctrine
5. L’unicité de l’Etre
Nicholson, dans A Literary History of the Arabs, a dit: « La perspective mystique étant toujours et partout essentiellement la même, en dépit des modifications particulières dues au milieu dans lequel elle s’épanouit et à la forme religieuse sur laquelle elle s’appuie, on voit des systèmes éloignés et sans parenté entre eux, présenter une similitude extraordinairement étroite et coïncider même en bien des modalités d’expression... Nombre d’auteurs écrivant sur le soufisme n’ont pas tenu compte de ce principe, d’où la confusion qui a longtemps regné. » (à la page 384 de l’ouvrage cité)
La doctrine de l’unité de Dieu (wahdat al-wujûd) tient une place centrale dans le soufisme.
Qui dit lâ ilâha illa’Llâh (il n’y a pas de divinité, si ce n’est la Divinité), dit aussi: il n’y a pas de réalité si ce n’est la Réalité. Ainsi, tout musulman doit admettre que Dieu seul est absolument réel.
Hadith: « Dieu était, et rien avec Lui. Il est maintenant tel qu’Il était. »
L’« unité de l’Etre » signifie que la création n’est en réalité rien d’autre que l’omniprésence de l’unique vérité divine.
Dans l’Encyclopédie de l’Islam, Massignon affirme à tort que wahdat al-wujûd - traduit de façon malheureuse par « monisme existentialiste » - signifie que « l’ensemble de tous les êtres, dans toutes leurs actions, est divinement adorable » (Encyclopédie de l’Islam, article Taçawwuf). Mais il n’est nullement question ici que la somme des choses soit plus divine que chaque chose prise séparément. Il y a dans le moindre moucheron un secret divinement adorable d’une totale adoration. En d’autres termes, pour ceux qui sont en possession de la vision mystique, là est la Face de Dieu.
L’état spirituel de baqâ, auquel aspirent les contemplatifs soufis et dont le nom signifie la pure « subsistance » hors de toute forme, est le même que l’état de moksha, la « délivrance » dont parlent les doctrines hindoues, comme l’« extinction » (al-fana’) de l’individualité qui précède la « subsistance » est analogue au nirvana en tant que notion négative.
Le Traité de l’unité d’Ibn ‘Arabî dit: « Quand le secret d’un seul atome d’entre les atomes est clair, le secret de toutes choses créées, extérieures et intérieures, est clair et tu ne vois plus rien en ce monde ou en l’autre que Dieu. »
Les soufis sont parfois accusés de croire à la localisation (hulûl) de Dieu, mais en fait ils savent très bien que Dieu, étant partout, ne reçoit aucune localisation particulière.
Al-Hallâj a dit: « Toi qui as rempli tout le « où » et tout ce qui est au-delà du « où », où es-tu donc? »
Le cheikh Al-‘Alawî a dit: « Ne crois pas que cela soit une doctrine de localisation, car il ne peut y avoir localisation sans qu’il y ait deux êtres dont l’un occupe une place dans l’autre, tandis que notre doctrine est celle-ci: « il n’est pas d’être si ce n’est Son être. »
Wahdat al-wujûd concerne la réalité absolue, elle n’a rien à voir avec la « réalité » au sens ordinaire, c’est-à-dire avec ces vérités moindres et relatives que les soufis appellent « métaphoriques ».
Une des premières choses que doit faire le novice de la tarîqah ‘Alawiyyah c’est de se défaire le plus possible de l’agilité de l’« intelligence profane », qu’un faqîr comparait un jour « aux pirouettes d’un singe attaché à un poteau », et d’acquérir une agilité d’un autre ordre, comparable à celle d’un oiseau qui modifie constamment le niveau de son vol. Le Coran d’abord, puis les traditions du Prophète (sunnah) sont en islam les grands prototypes de cette sorte de mobilité.
Les trois parties du rosaire de la tarîqah ‘Alawiyyah sont: d’abord une demande de pardon à Dieu, ensuite une prière de bénédiction sur le Prophète et enfin l’affirmation de l’unité divine. Selon Hasan ibn ‘Abd al-‘Aziz, l’un des disciples du cheikh, ce triple rosaire est utilisé dans toutes les branches de la tarîqah Shâdhiliyyah. Les mêmes formules sont également utilisés avec quelques variantes dans de nombreuses branches de la tarîqah Qâdiriyyah et d’autres encore.
« Le refus de voir que le mysticisme n’est jamais un « système » et que les mystiques sont consciemment et méthodiquement « contradictoires », prenant tantôt un point de vue et tantôt un autre, a conduit à une grande confusion, en particulier, en ce qui concerne wahdat al-wujûd. Tous les soufis admettent que la possibilité existentielle a une certaine réalité relative, mais il est impossible qu’aucun d’eux ait pu croire que dans la réalité absolue il y ait autre chose que l’unité divine [...]. » (p. 141)
Gairdner, qui a vu dans wahdat al-wujûd un abîme panthéiste, et Nicholson, qui l’appelle « une infinie et morne négation », devraient se demander s’ils la comprennent réellement.
Massignon a écrit que wahdat al-wujûd fut formulée pour la première fois par Ibn ‘Arabî. Il se peut que jusqu’à lui le terme n’ait pas été utilisé d’une façon générale, mais la doctrine elle-même occupait une place prédominante dans la pensée de ses prédécesseurs.
‘Abd Allâh al-Harawî, dans l’ouvrage Manâzil as-Sâ’irîn, a dit: « Nul n’affirme vraiment l’unité de Dieu, car celui qui l’affirme se met par là même en contradiction avec elle... Lui, Lui, est l’affirmation de son unité, et qui prétend la décrire blasphème (en créant une dualité par l’intrusion de sa propre personne). »
Al-Hallâj a dit: « Qui prétend affirmer l’unité de Dieu Lui donne par là même un associé. »
Al-Kharrâz, en son Livre de la véracité, cite le compagnon Abû ‘Ubaidah: « Je n’ai jamais considéré une seule chose sans que Dieu fût plus proche de moi que cette chose. »
Le plan inférieur de l’existance est la perception de la « réalité » toute relative de l’absence de Dieu, elle est pure illusion comparativement à l’absolue réalité de Sa présence.

6. Les trois Mondes
Le cheikh Mawlâj Al-‘Arabi ad-Darqâwî a dit: « Comme j’étais en état de souvenir, les yeux baissés, j’entendis une voix disant: Il est le premier et le dernier, l’extérieur et l’intérieur. Je restai silencieux et la voix répéta cela une deuxième fois, puis une troisième fois, je dis alors: « Pour le premier je comprends, pour le dernier je comprends et pour l’intérieur je comprends, mais quand à l’extérieur, je ne vois rien que des choses créées. » Et la voix reprit: « S’il y avait quelque extérieur autre que Lui-même, je te l’aurais dit. » A cet instant, je réalisai toute la hiérarchie de l’Etre absolu. »
Le Monde des humains – ‘âlam an-nâsût
Le Monde de la souveraineté – ‘âlam al-Malakût
Le Monde de la domination – ‘âlam al-Jabarût
Les soufis parlent souvent de quatre Mondes, dont le quatrième est cette Réalité ultime, le Monde de l’essence embrassant tout, ‘âlam al-‘Izzah, le Monde du pouvoir souverain.
Si on représente la voie mystique comme l’ouverture d’une série de portes, les « preuves » dont parle le cheikh sont des clefs que donne le Maître spirituel, l’une après l’autre, au disciple; et, dans la tarîqah ‘Alawiyyah, comme sans doute dans d’autres ordres, la sentence « Quand la porte a été ouverte, jette la clef. » est bien connue. Cette sentence, toutefois, ne doit jamais être interprétée d’une façon trop stricte, car certaines clefs ouvriront plus d’une porte et doivent être précieusement conservées; mais, du moins, elle montre toute la différence entre l’attitude des mystiques et celle des théologiens dogmatiques, sans parler de celle des philosophes, à l’égard de leurs propres formules.
Dans son chapitre sur la majesté divine, dans Al-Insân al-Kâmil, Jîlî donne une liste des noms de majesté (Al-Asmâ’al-Jalâliyyah) parmi lesquels Al-Qâbid (Celui qui Contracte), Al-Mumit (Celui qui Tue), Al-Mu’id (Celui qui Ramène, Celui qui Réintègre ou Celui qui Transforme), Al-Wârith (l’Héritier).
La beauté divine déploie le monde comme un symbole de Dieu, tandis que la majesté divine révèle les limitations du monde en ce qu’il n’est qu’un symbole, et le réduit finalement à rien.
Le cheikh Al-‘Alawi a dit: « Tout être est compris dans l’affirmation de l’unité (lâ ilâha illa’Llâh) et tu dois l’inclure aussi en nommant le plus noble des serviteurs (en disant Muhammadan rasûlu’Llâh, Mohammed est l’apôtre de Dieu).
Cette seconde attestation inclut les trois mondes: Muhammad désigne le Monde du royaume, c’est-à-dire le monde sensible, et la référence à sa mission d’apôtre est une référence au Monde de la souveraineté, le monde intérieur des secrets des conceptions abstraites, c’est l’intermédiaire entre l’éphémère et l’Eternel, le nom divin désigne le Monde de la domination, la mer où les sens et les concepts prennent également naissance.
Rasûl (apôtre, envoyé) est vraiment le médiateur entre l’éphémère et l’Eternel, puisque sans lui l’existence serait réduite à rien, car, si l’éphémère rencontrait l’Eternel, l’éphémère s’évanouirait et il ne resterait que l’Eternel. » (p. 163)

7. Le symbolisme des lettres de l’alphabet
Hadith: « Tout ce qui est dans les Livres révélés se trouve dans le Coran, tout ce qui est dans le Coran se trouve dans la Fâtihah, tout ce qui est dans la Fâtihah se trouve dans Bismi’Llâhi’r-Rahmâni ‘r-Rahîm » et « Tout ce qui est dans Bismi’Llâhi’r-Rahmâni ‘r-Rahîm se trouve dans la lettre bâ’, elle-même contenue dans le point qui est au-dessous d’elle. »
Le point est essentiellement différent des lettres. A l’opposition des autres signes, il ne saurait pas être limité par une définition. Il transcende tout ce qu’on peut trouver dans les lettres, en longueur, petitesse ou sinuosité, de sorte qu’on ne peut pas le saisir visuellement ou auditivement, comme on saisit les lettres. Les lettres sont les qualités du point, mais aucune lettre ne peut, dans sa forme ni dans sa signification, comporter ce qui est intimement propre au point.
« Il est donc clair que le point échappe à toute expression. De même, il n’est pas de mot qui puisse exprimer l’Essence secrète du Créateur. C’est pourquoi, chaque fois que le gnostique essaie d’exprimer par des mots l’incomparabilité divine, c’est-à-dire quand il cherche à rendre ce qu’il faut entendre par la plénitude de l’Essence avec tous ses attributs, la formule sortant de sa bouche manque de très loin son but, en raison des limitations du langage. » (p. 172)
Le Prophète: “La première chose que Dieu créa fut le calame.”

8. La grande paix
Le rythme peut, rituellement, servir de pont entre la perpétuelle fluctuation de ce mone (ou de l’âme), et l’immuabilité du monde infini de la paix divine.
Le passage de l’agitation à la paix par le rythme, du microcosme au métacosme par le macrocosme, de l’individu à Dieu par l’homme universel n’est pas seulement représenté dans la danse sacrée, mais aussi dans le rosaire.
La respiration rythmique d’un faqîr pendant la danse est très comparable à celle d’un homme sur le point de mourir et déjà à demi réintégré dans le monde plus grand dont il était issu. Ainsi, le faqîr anticipe sa mort en une agonie rituelle qui symbolise l’extinction de tout ce qui n’est pas Dieu.
« La réalisation la plus complète de la paix intérieure implique le déplacement de la conscience, d’un centre secondaire ou illusoire dans l’unique vrai centre où le sujet n’est plus le bâ’ mais l’alif; il n’est plus l’être créé mais le Créateur. Ce déplacement n’est autre que la concentration au vrai sens du mot; il s’ensuit donc que, pour celui qui est vraiment concentré, le symbolisme de l’inspiration devient l’absorption de tout dans l’unité de l’essence, et l’expiration la manifestation des noms divins et des qualités divines. » (p. 180-181)
Abû Sa’îd ibn al-A’râbî, sur l’extinction (fanâ’): “C’est que l’infinie majesté de Dieu apparaisse au serviteur, lui faisant oublier ce monde et l’autre, avec tous leurs éclats, degrés et stations, et tout souvenir d’eux; l’éteignant à la fois à l’égard de toutes les choses extérieures, de sa propre intelligence et de son âme, et même à l’égard de son extinction et de l’extinction de son extinction, à cause de sa totale submersion dans les eaux de la réalisation infinie. »
Le Prophète: “Mourez avant que vous mouriez.”
Le sens de la mort dans la doctrine des soufis est l’extinction du serviteur, c’est-à-dire son effacement total, son annihilation.
Abû Yazîd al-Bistamî, sur lui-même: « Abû Yazid est mort. Dieu veuille ne point lui faire grâce. »
Abû’l Abbas al-Mursî priait ainsi: « O Seigneur, ouvre notre œil intérieur et illumine nos contrées les plus secrètes, éteins-nous à nous-mêmes et accorde-nous de subsister en Toi, non en nous-mêmes. »

9. La gnose
Il est impossible d’isoler l’Essence. C’est pourquoi l’œil corporel, dont les objets de vision sont normalement les choses terrestres, ne peut voir l’Essence en tant que distincte du monde sensible, car cela reviendrait à isoler l’Essence de ce monde.
Il est possible pour l’œil extérieur de voir la vérité tout en étant encore « en ce monde », à condition que cet œil extérieur soit capable de réaliser un accord parfait avec l’œil intérieur.
Ce qui empêche de voir la vérité en ce monde, c’est que les créatures ne la reconnaissent pas.

10. La purification rituelle
Principe général du soufisme: une parfaite formation exotérique constitue l’indispensable préparation pour entrer dans la voie ésotérique.
Le symbolisme d’un rite est son essence même, sans laquelle il perdrait sa qualité rituelle.
« Celui qui ne considère que la signification extérieure ou littérale en l’isolant de l’ensemble est un matérialiste (hashwî), et celui qui ne considère que la signification intérieure en l’isolant de l’ensemble est un pseudo-mystique (bâtini), mais celui qui allie les deux significations est parfait. » (Al-Ghâzzalî, Mishkât al-Anwâr, p. 128-129)
Le but de l’ablution, en islam, est d’éliminer l’impureté intérieure, symbolisée par les différentes modalités d’impureté extérieure ou, en cas de doute, de ce q u’on suppose être une impureté extérieure et qui rend l’ablution nécessaire pour l’accomplissement de la prière rituelle. La loi définit seulement l’impureté extérieure ou symbolique, la conception de ce qu’elle symbolise variant selon les différentes aspirations spirituelles.

11. La prière rituelle
La station suprême est symbolisée, sous un ou plusieurs de ses aspects, en chaque rite fondamental de chaque religion quand ce rite est considéré en sa plus haute signification.
La complexité du symbolisme n’est autre que celle de l’Univers lui-même, le symbolisme étant la science des rapports entre les différents niveaux d’existence.
« Les gestes de la prière sont les suivants:
a) Se tenir droit, face à la direction de La Mecque, les mains levées, paumes vers l’avant, de chaque côté de la tête, les pouces touchant presque les oreilles et l’extrémité des doigts à peu près au niveau du sommet de la tête.
b) Dire Allâhu Akbar.
c) Abaisser les mains sur les côtés ou les joindre sur la poitrine (ce point varie selon les différentes écoles de la Loi) et réciter la Fâtihah (le chapitre qui ouvre le Coran) suivie de quelque autre passage du Coran au choix de l’adorant.
d) Faire un inclination dans laquelle les mains s’appuient sur les genoux de sorte que le dos soit presque horizontal.
e) Se redresser complètement en disant: « Dieu écoute celui qui Le loue. » (Tous les autres gestes de la prière, y compris l’inclination elle-même, sont accompagnés des mots Allâhu Akbar.)
f) Faire une prosternation en s’agenouillant, le front touchant le sol et les mains à plat de chaque côté de la tête.
g) Se relever de la prosternation en position assise.
h) Faire une deuxième prosternation.
Ces mouvements constituent un cycle de prière qui est répété un nombre de fois variant selon les différentes prières. Au coucher du soleil la prière comporte trois de ces cycles, quatre à la nuit, deux à l’aurore, quatre à midi et quatre au milieu de l’après-midi. A la fin du deuxième cycle de chaque prière, on reprend la position assise (après h) pour réciter une formule par laquelle l’adorant se consacre lui-même à Dieu et demande la paix. On fait de même à la fin du deuxième cycle; au lieu de se relever pour un nouveau cycle, l’adorant termine la prière en position assise, en tournant la tête à droite et en disant As-Salâmu’ alaikum. » (note à la pagte 210)
Le Prophète: « C’est dans la prosternation que le serviteur est le plus près de son Seigneur. »

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