Journal Article

The salience of silence, the silence of salience


This is a unique study of an almost silent and still film of the organization of silence. The film “Into Great Silence” (IGS) shows how Carthusian monks organize silence, punctuating and structuring it with recurring rituals and routines. Carthusian silence is discourse: it is their way of communicating, interacting, and sustaining their organization. The salience of Carthusian silence is that it is where they can discern divine presence. By studying IGS, the researcher overcame the challenges of access to the monastery, of studying silence, and of appraising the implicit salience of Carthusian silence. The film invites viewers to silent introspection through sound art, visual poetry, and a silent metaphorical discourse that relies on symbols. IGS utilizes reverse visual metaphor, with metaphorical images that move the audience from images to abstract territories. The researcher also reflects on his own personal experience during his stays at a Carthusian Charterhouse, when he was a novitiate candidate in the sole English Carthusian Monastery (St. Hugh’s Charterhouse, Parkminster, near Horsham in West Sussex, England). Although he did not pursue this vocation, his two periods in the monastery left him with an indelible impression of a religious order that has not changed for nearly a millennium, and which imparted a deep awareness and appreciation of silence, solitude, and stillness. The paper draws out lessons for research and organizations.

Attached files


Waistell, Jeff

Oxford Brookes departments

Oxford Brookes Business School\Oxford Brookes Business School


Year of publication: 2018
Date of RADAR deposit: 2018-03-13

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License

Related resources

This RADAR resource is the Accepted Manuscript of The salience of silence, the silence of salience


  • Owner: Joseph Ripp
  • Collection: Outputs
  • Version: 1 (show all)
  • Status: Live
  • Views (since Sept 2022): 308