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Avout: A person or group of people who have taken the vows of the Discipline and joined the closed world of a Math to concentrate on studies of science, history and philosophy. The life of an Avout is in many respects monastic, with a prohibition of personal possessions, the practice of communal living, and participation in ritual ceremonies. However, the vocation and principle occupation of the Avout is scholarship and not religion.
As the Discipline mandates measures to ensure that male Avout are sterile, the Avout may not reproduce. (Male avout sterility is guaranteed by drugs placed in the food of the avout; if the avout were to start consuming saecular food, it is stated that they would cease to be sterile, which suggests that the drugs inhibit sperm production.) Instead, they maintain their numbers through the induction of new members. Very young infants who have not yet lost their umbilical cords, may be inducted directly into Millenarian maths as foundlings, but the more usual route for Saeculars to join the Mathic Society is by joining a Math later in life.
It is not uncommon for Saecular people in their second or third decade of life to join a Unarian math with the intention of remaining for only a few years and then returning extramuros where the knowledge they gained can be used in some form of Saecular employment. Avout may also remain if they choose, seek to be admitted to one of the Decenarian (Tenner), Centenarian (Hundreder), or Millenarian (Thousander) Maths, which are affiliated with specific Mathic Orders. (Orolo spins yarns of a Ten-Thousander order, but these are almost certainly jokes.)
- (1) A person who has sworn a vow to submit himself or herself to the Cartasian Discipline for one or more years; a fraa or suur.
- (2) A plurality of such persons.
- (3) A formally constituted community of such persons, e.g., a chapter or a math.
The word Avout is a neologism based on "devout" (definition, derivation), prefixed with a-, inverting its meaning. In reality, the term "devout" can mean those who belong to a monastic order due to their adherence to vows of devotion to a Deity and thus embodies a philosophy based on faith. Whereas in Anathem, the term "avout" identifies those who belong to an order (#13, 14) bound by vows to principles of rationality.