Silence and Mortality

No more words! A funny thing for a writer to demand. Not for an artist or a composer, necessarily. But it’s a strange call coming from an author, who obviously depends on words for his/her brick and mortar.

Silence. The fear of. The desire for. The demand, the scream, the crying out loud. Stop!!!

    “Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.”

    — Ludwig Wittgenstein

    “The silence of these infinite spaces frightens me.”

    — Blaise Pascal

When asked the fourteen unanswerable questions, the Buddha remained silent.

Chatter. Is it an escape from mortality? Do we talk, write, think in language to avoid silence? And do we associate silence, consciously, unconsciously, with death?

If we remain silent, and do everything we can to avoid thinking in language, but still hear other humans, we can not avoid thinking in words. But we can take a break, and extend that as far as our strength carries us, if we concentrate on music, on each note, on the harmonies between them, on their relationship to one another, on their rise and fall. We can extend that break if we go out into nature and listen to the wind swooshing through the trees and over the tall grass and concentrate on nothing but our senses, without words, without language. And we can’t think about thinking. Or not thinking. We can not carry out a meta-commentary on our lack of commentary.

Art. Images. If we just look . . . and feel the image in our minds, we can also avoid language and remain silent. We can’t critique or review. We can only see and feel. Perhaps, be the image, connect with it on its own terms and to each part of it.


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Conflicts and paradoxes. The desire to escape from language and into a certain kind of silence. A desire to escape from death in life, not from life itself.

Silence and Mortality
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