Silence: Anne's Reading Notes/Resources
Reading/resources for Silence: The Rhetorics of Class, Gender, Culture and Religion
Bauman, H-Dirksen L. "Body/Text: Sign Langauge Poetics and Spatial Form in Literature." Signs and Voices: Deaf Culture, Identity, Language, and Arts. Ed. Kristin Lindgren, Doreen DeLuca and Donna Jo Napoli. Washington, D.C.: Gaullaudet University Press, 2002. 163-176.
Like adding dye to a specimen to reveal the traces of previously invisible substances, a Deaf lens brings to light the previously embedded traces of phonocentrism in the very designs and definitions of literature....Deaf theory insists that it...is a visual practice....Conventional wisdom has described painting as a "spatial art" and poetry as a "temporal art"....A Deaf perspective on spatial form recovers a poetics of manual-visual langauge....once the hand moves across space, it stitches time into space and space into time. The hand...cannot move except through spatial/temporal displacement....In the case of a sign poem, the text...is not print on paper but rather a body in motion....sign poetry...is a primordial means of enacting the body's existential relation tolanguage and space....Take, for example, the deceptively simple poem "Hands" by Clayton Valli....Valli uses the same 5 handshape to create the images of snow falling, flowers blooming, grass waving, leaves falling....to conjure imagery of the four seasons....literary study has not paid enough attention to the spatial dimensions of literature...
Berry, Wendell. "The Loss of the University," Home Economics: Fourteen Essays. New York: North Point Press, 1987. 76-97:
language ... echoes within itself, reverberating endlessly like a voice echoing within a cave, and speaking in answer to its echo, and the answer again echoing....But its nature also is to turn outward to the world, to strike its worldly objects cleanly and cease to echo--to achieve a kind of rest and silence in them....
The silence in which words return to their objects, touch them and come to rest is not the silence of the plugged ear. It is the world's silence, such as occurs after the first hard freeze of autumn, when the weeks-long singing of the crickets is suddenly stopped, and when, by a blessedly recurring accident, all machine noises have stopped for the moment, too. It is a silence that must be prepared for and waited for; it requires a silence of one's own.
....words are ... signs of things that finally must be carried back to the things they stand for to be verified. This carrying back...at once enlarges and shapes, frees and limits us....for example...when we call a tree a tree, we are...at once in the company of the tree itself and surrounded by ancestral voices calling out to us all that trees have been and meant....
This necessity for words and facts to return to their objects in the world describes one of the boundaries of a university, one of the boundaries of book learning anywhere, and it describes the need for humility, restraint, exacting discipline and high standards within that boundary (80).
Brown, Wendy. Walled States, Waning Sovereignty. Zone Books, 2010:
Ever since the fall of the Berlin Wall, there’s been a strange increase in wall-building. It’s not just a resurgence in the construction of physical walls, like the Israeli West Bank barrier, the US-Mexico border fence, or similar barriers on the edges of the European Union or the borders of India, Saudi Arabia, and a host of other countries; it’s also an upsurge in the desire for enclosure, as if nations could wrap themselves safely behind walls, like blankets.
...these new walls never accomplish what they ostensibly set out to do....what are these walls really for, and where does the desire for them come from?
...we are living in an age of “waning sovereignty,” in which power is ebbing away from nation-states and accruing to various trans-national entities ....Walls are a response to this diminishment. They’re a cover-up, a way of insisting on the stability and dominance of the state even as it fades into irrelevance in the face of global movements of money, labor and influence. They’re “stage set productions of intact nationhood, autonomy and self-sufficiency,” designed to restore citizens’ own sense of balance and mastery. As a sort of visual boast, walls seek to shore up the psychic space of the nation, but like all boasts, they point to an underlying vulnerability.
...walls work as both theater and wish-fulfillment....enclosure (the act of saying “this is mine” and putting a fence around it) ...may not work at keeping people out, but ...they are very effective at defining and giving identity to those they fence in....a form of symbolic compensation ... illuminating the buried psychic sources behind the desire for wall-building, the deep fears it assuages and hidden wishes it fulfills....The darker impulses behind wall-building... have to do with feelings of repulsion and superiority, and deep hatreds
Budick, Sanford and Wolfgang Iser, Eds. Languages of the Unsayable: The Play of Negativity in Literature and Literary Theory. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989.
Cheung, King-Kok. Articulate Silences: Hisaye Yamamoto, Maxine Hong Kingston, Joy Kogawa. 1993.
Co, Alex and friends. Daughters of Dolma (in production). [Feature-length documentary about female experiences of Tibetan Buddhism in the Kathmandu Valley.]
Francis, Jo and John Fuegi. In the Symphony of the World: A Portrait of Hindegard of Bingen. Direct Cinema (50 minutes).
Glenn, Cheryl. Unspoken: A Rhetoric of Silence. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 2004.
Ghosh, Amitav. The Hungry Tide. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2005.
...turning her attention back to the dolphins....She imagined the animals circling drowsily, listening to echoes pinging through the water, painting pictures in three dimensions--images that only they could decode. The thought of experiencing your surroundings in that way never failed to fascinate her: the idea that to "see" was also to "speak" to others of your kind, where simply to exist was to communicate.
In contrast, there was the immeasurable distance that separated her from Fokir. What was he thinking about...she would never know: not just because they had no language in common but because that was how it was with human beings, who came equipped, as a species, with the means of shutting each other out. The two of them, Fokir and she, could have been boulders or trees for all they knew of each other, and wasn't it better in a way, more honest, that they could not speak? For if you compared it to the ways in which dolphins' echoes mirrored the world, speech was only a bag of tricks that fooled you into believing that you could see through the eyes of another being (131-132).
..."It's because he's my husband that I can't talk to him..." [Fokir's wife] Moyna said quietly. "Only a stranger can put such things into words....Because words are just air....When the wind blows on the water, you see ripples and waves, but the real river lies beneath, unseen and unheard. You can't blow on the water's surface from below....Only someone who's outside can do that" (214).
Gröning, Phillip. Into Great Silence. Bavaria Film, 2005 (162 minutes).
Halberstam, Judith. "Shadow Feminisms: Queer Negativity and Radical Passivity."
The Queer Art of Failure. Durham: Duke University Press, 2011. 123-145:
explore a feminist politics that issues...from an undoing...from a refusal to be
or to become woman as she has been defined and imagined....
This feminism...grounded in negation, refusal, passivity, absence, and silence, offers
spaces and modes of unknowing, failing, and forgetting as part of an alternative
feminist project, a shadow feminism...an antisocial femininity, and a refusal of...
the legacy of the mother and...her relationship to patriarchal forms of power (pp. 123-124).
....consider speech to be something other than the conventional feminist trope
of breaking silence .... Spivak's call for a 'female intellectual"...who can learn
how not to know the other, how not to sacrifice the other on behalf of his or
her own sovereignty ...a feminism that fails to save others or to replicate itself,
a feminism finds purpose in its own failure (p. 126).
Hedges, Elaine and Shelley Fisher Fishkin, Eds. Listening to Silences: New Essays in Feminist Criticism. 1994.
Lehrer, Jonah. Imagine: How Creativity Works. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2012.
the wonder of improvisation...a mind able to selectively silence that which keeps us silent (93).
Lewis, Magda Gere. Without a Word: Teaching Beyond Women’s Silence. New York: Routledge, 1993.
Momaday, Scott. House Made of Dawn. 1969; rpt. New York: HarperPerennial, 1999:
In the white man's world, language...has undergone a process of change. The white man takes such things as words and literatures for granted, as indeed he must, for nothing in his world is so commonplace. On every side of him there are words by the millions, an unending succession of pamphlets and papers, letters and books, bills and bulletins, commentaries and conversations. He has diluted and multipleid the Word, and words have begun to close in upon him. He is sated and insensitive; his regard for language--for the Word itself--as an instrument of creation has diminshed nearly to the pont of no return. It may be that he will perish by the Word.
But it was not always so with him, and it is not so with you. Consider for a moment that old Kiowa woman, my grandmother, whose use of language was confined to speech. And be assured that her regard for words was always keen in proportion as she depended upon them. You see, for her words were medicine; they were magic and invisible. They came from nothing into sound and meaning. They were beyond price; they could neither be bought nor sold. And she never threw words away....
Say this: "In the beginning was the Word....' There was nothing....And something happened....and everything began. The Word did not come into being, but it was. It did not break upon the silence, but it was older than the silence and the silence was made of it (pp. 95-97).
Padilla, Genaro. "Imprisoned Narrative? Or Lies, Secrets, and Silence in New Mexico Women's Autobiography." Criticism in the Borderlands: Studies in Chicano Literature, Culture, and Ideology. Ed. Hector Calderon and Jose David Saldivar. Durham: Duke University Press, 1991. 43-60.
What I wish to consider in this essay is the formation of imprisoned autobiographic discourse. What happens when the autobiographic impulse finds its self-constitutive means undermined by the very discursive practices that make autobiographic textualization possible? What happens when an individual finds herself in a situation where memory is encouraged to imprint itself upon the page, but only in a language and idiom of cultural otherness that mark its boundaries of permissible autobiographic utterance? Given the discursive domination to which the subordinate cultural self must make supplication if it wishes to survive in any form, the imprinted self is likely to be a represenation that discloses intense cultural self-deciet, political fear, and masked and self-divided identity. The "I" is made alien to itself, existing as it does deeply embedded in a discursive world outside of its own making or control. We discover an "I" that reveals its incarceration within a network of discursive practices invented by cultural imperialists whose goal has been and still is to lock it into a cell of alien linguistic culture and ideology, into a consciousness that participates in its own submissions, transformation, and erasure...
Picard, Max. The World of Silence, 1948. Trans Stanley Godman, Chicago: Henry Regnery, 1961.
Rak, Julie. "Do Witness: Don't: A Woman's Word and Trauma as Pedagogy." Topia 10, 53.
silence is implicitly understood in the humanities classroom to be a way to withhold information. It is understood to be an indicator of fear, boredom, resistance or ignorance….I wish to address silence as part of an important educative process which does not necessarily need to be “broken” in order for learning to take place.
....classrooms can never be safe since conditions of power and privilege operate in them, just as they operate in the rest of the world…. the setting of ground rules in a classroom acknowledges the lack of safety in the classroom, rather than affirming the presence of safety….And the objective of many trauma narratives…is to ask readers to forego their own emotional safety….
Witnesses must listen, and to do that, they must be silent and forego the tendency in the West to associate speaking with presence. The witness must become absent, and literally “bear witness” to the narrative in silence so that the silence of the survivor can be relieved….
Silence, I suggest, can be the effect of this temporary suspension of one’s everyday subject position in life as the witness experiences the narrative’s affect.
Schwartz, Hillel. Making Noise: From Babel to the Big Bang and Beyond. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2011:
Would that there were another legal approach, one that made invasiveness itself the issue. What if, along with the common law's acceptance of right to the "quiet enjoyment of one's property," there were a "a right to be let alone"? That was the phrase used by...Samuel Warren and Louis Brandeis, in...1890...The right to be let alone, they argued, proceeded implicitly from a library of other established rights: the right to an unbesmirched name (laws against libel and slander), the right to an uninterrupted spiritual ife (laws guarding freedom of worship), the right to the expression of one's thoughts and sentiments (intellectual property law), and the everyday right to be rid of noise, odor, dust, smoke, and vibration produced in one's vicinty (nuisance law). All told, these rights presumed "in reality not the principel of private property, but that of inviolate personality"....Sapped by the intensity of the daily round in an urban society with a diverse, burgeoning population, citizens had need of new assurances of restorative solitude and secure retreat....Felix Adler, "The Moral Value of Silenne"...declared, "Slowly , gradually, with much diifficulty, the right to curtain off our inner world hass been won in civilized communities"... (446-447).
[in the early 20th century] the arts of the West had begun to turn away from spoken words toward mime, expressive dance, and shape-poems, while the Belgain dramatist Maurice Maeterlinck "touted the superiotiy of silence over speech in the drama as the gateway to cosmic mystery." On the postwar stage, a 'school of silence' tutored by the French playwright Jean-Jacques Bernard relied on gesture and long pauses....The Empire of Silence...[by] Charles Courtenany...his volume a chrestomathy of quotations....silence fell into categories: compulsory, contemplative, belligerent, restorative, punitive, reverent, pedgogical, proverbial....one did not always welcome silence, nor could one always chose one's silences (617-618).
Edmund Husserl...began to insist on a self-silence deep enough to hear oneself sepak, a quietness of voice thorugh which a person could come to a transcendental experience of the presence of others and an ethical regard for their voices....Martin Heidegger...took silence a step further: the langauge of being was essentailly "the ringing of stillness" through whose "soundless gathering call" the essentiality of others' lives could be shared. Only through an interior silence could language assume its finest functions, attention and conscience. "In talking with one another...the person who is silent can 'let something be understood,' that is, he can develop an understanding more authentically than the person who never runs out of words.....Authentic silence is possible only in genuine discourse; in order to be silent, Da-sein [the self-interrogating being] must have something to say, that is, must be in commenad of an authentic disclosedness of itself" (619).
deaf activists with an ever-expanding lexicon and syntax of signing would teach the hearing community that there was much to be learned from, and through, silence....(700, 707).
The embrace of silence after 1945 had ....to be felt as an act of resistance, a form of orison, a tactic of erasure or detachment....Cities these days were "enormous reservoirs of noise"...thus Max Picard, The World of Silence (1948)...silence could restore to us a hopeful life, for it was the "natural basis of forgiveness and of love." But silence was becoming rarer..."it is simply the place into which noise has not yet penetrated...the momentary breakdown of noise."
Momentary as the 4'33" of silence that became the soundmark of John Milton Cage, Jr, a performance piece he credited to his few minutes (4'33"?) in an anechoic chamber where no noise was supposed to peentrate and he himself was the carrier....Cage [respected]... the "Buddhist belief that all things have a sound, even if we don't listen or hear it...Cage had arrived at a credo on the future of music: "Whereever we are, what we hear is mostly noise. When we ignore it, it disturbs us. When we listen to it, we find it fascinating....We want to capture and control these sounds, to use them...as musical instruments"....(707-708).
...a technician told him after he found that in the deadest of sonic cages he was still hearing things. Things, said the technician, that Cage had brought in with him: a heart beating in a ribcage, blood pulsing through his veins, the hum of his nerves" Already in the 1930s, acoustic engineners had made clear that soundproofed or anechoic rooms could "eliminate all noise except that due to heart-beats, breathing, and the like....the absolute zero of noise is impossible if one human being is present (the beating heart and circulating blood inside one human body make a noise of 10 to 15 db)." But nerve noises?...a theory of tinnintus as "ilusion of sound caused by an irritation of the auditory neural elements"...a concomitant epidemiology...that claimed that "people entirely without tinnitus are extremely rare, if such cases exist at all"? Or was it the Zen residue of "no-mind": what remains whatever you do?...that which is the least audible is our lease on the self...in life there is no escaping noise, only a re-realizing of it (710-711).
"Silence as the entirey of unintended sounds," says Cage....The Zen of background as foreground...."no silence exists that is not pregnant with sound"...."it appears that tinnitus is present constantly but is masked by the ambient noise which floods our environment." Dam that flood and the soundnoise that was "subaudible" becomes audible, sound all over again (711-712).
Had Cage been poltically outspoken, the silence might have been heard as a critique of those unwilling to face down Senator Jospeh McCarthy....Instead, it...must have been heard in terms of sonar...the ambient noise of the seven seas (713, 738).
Steiner, George. "The Retreat from the Word" (1961) and "Silence and the Poet" (1966); rpted. Language and Silence: Essays on Language, Literature, and the Inhuman, 1967. 12-35, 36-54.
Swan, Jim. "Disabilities, Bodies, Voices." Disability Studies: Enabling the Humanities.
Ed. Sharon L. Snyder, Brenda Jo Brueggemann, and Rosemarie Garland-Thomson.
New York: Modern Language Association of America, 2002. 283-95:
“Nonverbal does not mean unvoiced. To speak of
the body at all is to bring it into language, to voice it…
the body requires a mastery of language” (286).
Sweeney, Megan. "Prison Narratives, Narrative Prisons:
Incarcerated Women Reading Gayl Jones's 'Eva's Man.'"
Feminist Studies 30, 2, The Prison Issue (Summer, 2004), pp. 456-482:
With the exception of crucial efforts by critical race feminists, scholars, and
activists such as Beth Richie, Kimberle Williams Crenshaw, Angela Davis,
Joy James, and members of Incite W!omen of Color against Violence, the
prison abolition movement has tended to focus on African American men
as victims of the racist criminal justice system....
Eva begins her story by foregrounding a counter-method of reading...
that privileges silence as an act of attentive listening, forestalls mastery
and the immediate imposition of certain meaning, and draws attention
to instances when existing explanations fail....she refuses to honor
assumptions based on immediate appearances; respecting the integrity
of the feminine object, she ultimately concedes that she cannot read the
woman's eyes. Further more, this counter-method of reading attends to
the reciprocal nature of looking and listening....
By alternately inhabiting and refusing Eva's silences, the incarcerated
readers draw crucial attention to the overlapping ways in which personal
silence, cultural silencing, and social disenfranchisement continue to
shape women's experiences of victimization.
Teish, Luisah. In Jambalaya: The Natural Woman's Book of Personal Charms and Practical Rituals, she writes about going home to New Orleans and being met by her family at the airport: ... "They begin to talk gumbo ya ya and it goes on for 12 days ... Gumbo ya ya is a creole term that means "Everybody talks at once."" ... It is through gumbo ya ya that Teish tells the history of her sojourn to her family and they tell theirs to her. They do this simultaneously because, in fact, their histories are joined - occurring simultaneously, in connection, in dialogue with each other. To relate their tales separately would be to obliterate that connection ...
History is ... everyone talking at once, multiple rhythms being played simultaneously ... As historians we try to isolate one conversation and to explore it, but the trick is then how to put that conversation in a context whcih makes evident its dialogue with so many others ...
Unfortunately, it seems to me, few historians are good jazz musicians; most of us write as if our training were in classical music. We require surrounding silence - of the audience, of all the instruments not singled out as the performers in this section, even often of any alternative visions than the composer's. That then makes it particularly problematic for historians when faced with trying to understand difference while holding on to an old score that has in many ways assumed that despite race, class, ethnicity, sexuality, and otehr differences, at core all women do have the same gender; that is, the rhythm is the same and the conductor can point out when it is time for each of us to play."
Tarter, Michele Lise, inkARCERATED.
Tarter, Michele Lise and Richard Bell, Eds. Buried Lives: Incarcerated in Early America. University of Georgia Press, 2012.
Thompson, Derek. How Headphones Changed the World. The Atlantic. May 30, 2012.
wearing soundless headphones...has become a social accessory with an explicit message: I am here, but I am separate....In a crowded world....a headphone is a small invisible fence around our minds -- making space, creating separation, helping us listen to ourselves.
Tingley, Kim. Is Silence Going Extinct? New York Times Magazine (March 15, 2012).
Walker, Michelle Boulous. Philosophy and the Maternal Body: Reading Silence. New York: Routledge, 1998.
Wilkins, Mary E. "Silence." Silence and Other Stories. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1898.