Convent Vs Concentration Camp Edit

the word concent is interesting in the context of this book because it's a very definite play on words.

First is the obvious play on words: concent sounds like convent and so the reader may translate this as a place set aside from the world for religious purposes.

However, the savants (saunts) are set aside from the world because rational knowledge is viewed with suspicious through a variety of filters as described early on in the book (scientists as amoral, scientists as clowns, scientists as absent-minded, etc). In this context, concent made this reader (at any rate) think of concentration as in concentration camp - another location set away from the world, but for a very different purpose than convent. 17:11, 6 October 2008 (UTC)

I think this is made clear at the end of the book, indeed it is a large part of the message of the final chapter, that they did not go into the concents entirely voluntarily, and thus they were concentration "camps." It appears to have been a combination of saecular fear of scientists after the horrors they had unleashed, and self-horror by the scientists over what they had done. Erasmas decides to break the cycle and make a more open Math. Throughout the whole book it seems as though the exile is voluntary, and in every way a good thing. Once they learn the origin, there is a change, and thus Saunt Orolo's, which they decide they will definitely not call a Concent

At the close of the novel, they still haven't decided what it will be called, not yet having coined the term "University" - although this is exactly what they are founding. Clever. 04:20, 19 April 2009 (UTC)

Bradtem 02:02, 10 October 2008 (UTC)

I think the problem here is in saying it must be one or the other. I think it's clear that originally, the function was something like a concentration camp as they separated the Avout from popular society. But it is also clear that functionally, if you skip forward the thousands of years, that they operate as a Convent. The Saecular power and society is known to crash periodically, yet the avout do not attempt to leave. Also, I would add that later on in the novel you see a Concent that acts much more like a university than either a convent or concentration camp.

Tomben 14:16, 12 October 2008 (UTC)

While I personally never got "Convent" I can certainly understand how a reader might get this. But the author's intention seems clear to me. It is, at the end, to shock you in realizing that these things started as concentration camps and that the name must have originated that way, and not the way you thought (no matter whether you thought of a pun on convent, or thought it was just another made-up word with latin roots.) But I'm happy to say it can suggest both, but suggesting it is just meant to mean their equivalent of a convent misses the whole point of the ending, that's the main consideration.

Bradtem 16:50, 12 October 2008 (UTC)

I see it as being along the lines of Saint + Savant ~= Saunt and Anthem + Anathema ~= Anathem. Convent + Concentration Camp ~= Concent. These aren't direct correlation just similarities.

For much of the book the Concents are presented as Monasteries/Convents where a devout group of people focus their lives on specific knowledge. They way they are run, the fact they wear only robes tied with a rope, etc, all points towards traditional monk/nun/etc behavior. It's only when you start getting the history of world that the additional concentration camp connection becomes apparent. And it is this change in view from convent to concentration camp that makes the ending important.

Tomben 19:09, 12 October 2008 (UTC)

When I went to see NS speak on the launch of Anathem (where they had folks sing Mathic music etc.) Stewart Brand said "It's a book you have to read twice, because the ending alters your perception of every sentence in the book." At first I wondered what he meant, because the battle with the probability ship and the knowledge of polycosmic theory does not change everything, though it does make you realize that Fraa Jad and others like him have been manipulating worldlines to get certain events. No, what Stewart meant I think (I will ask him) the that very last chapter, where we learn the concents were not created willingly. Suddenly everything they do, and all the elements of their division from the saecular world and their interactions when they leave take on that new meaning. Throughout the book, Concent life is presented through Erasmas' worldview as good, and superior in every way to saecular life, and then in the last chapter he abandons all that, realizing where it came from.--Bradtem 08:15, 13 October 2008 (UTC)

Actually, as the book opens, Erasmas is contemplating suicide. I would not say that he presents Mathic life as "superior in every way". 04:24, 19 April 2009 (UTC)
Yes, but we are ignoring the real opportunity here, which is simply: should we start one? Amstanley 01:06, September 27, 2010 (UTC)