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  • Writer's pictureJoël Tibbits

The World as Creature

"All the world's creatures,

as a book and a picture,

are to us as a mirror."

These are the words of Alanus de Insulis that William of Baskerville shared with his young disciple Adso in Umberto Eco's "The Name of the Rose." In quoting these words (originally in Latin), it was William's intent to impress upon Adso that he "...recognize the evidence through which the world speaks to us."

Earlier this year, I reread Eco's, "The Name of the Rose" to research European monasticism during the medieval time period; and immerse myself in discussions of logic, philosophy and theology that occur among the eclectic and charming characters throughout the book. But it is this particular moment between William and Adso that has stayed with me so vividly.

I have considered it so often that I eventually sought the entire quote:

"All the world’s creatures

as a book and a picture

are to us as a mirror;

in it our life, our death,

our present condition and our passing

are faithfully signified."

In reading more of Alanus de Insulis's words, questions I have long pondered arise:

"Do we experience and perceive the evidence the world provides?"

"Are we Listening with our whole self?"

"Are we not creatures of a multi-faceted continuum of creatures, and as such, is not the world a Creature?"

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