For some years now, I have been contemplating a philosophy of silence.
Is that my most pretentious sentence yet? Possibly.
Silence is fascinating. When we are most at ease with someone, we talk about “comfortable silence.” There are awkward silences, painful silences, deafening silence, conspiracies of silence.
There is much mystical writing on silence. There are many books describing the vain quest for absolute silence in today’s world (my favourite, so far [its a crowded enough field] is Gordon Hempton’s One Square Inch of Silence)
I haven’t yet gathered my materials, or made up my mind. Silence is more than the absence of noise. But what is it?
Here are some thoughts I committed to web-print at nthposition:
A few years ago I realised that silence is a thing in itself. It is not just the absence of sound, or the absence of noise.
There are anthropological texts on silence in different cultures , social history texts on the invention of silence and the constructed nature of concepts such as silence, sound and noise, there are audiological and acoustic texts on sound and how it is created in our brains.
All seem beside the point. Silence is.
Silence is a force, a power. A philosophy of silence will, after all, always be expressed in language, and always trap itself in language.
We are told that absolute silence is unattainable, and in our modern world even relative silence is close to impossible to find. Still, silence is free, and silence is everywhere, in the gaps.
Silence is the punchline of every unspoken joke, the conclusion of every unformulated argument, the summation of all unspeeched thoughts. In the beginning was the word and in the end there is silence.