Saying nothing, in other words, is not the same thing as silence. Silence is felt. It is meaningful. It is not mere negation. In fact, it can be, as we shall see, eloquent. But, and here I suppose is the crux of the matter, this kind of silence presupposes bodily presence. Silence, in the way that I’m encouraging us to think of it, emanates from the body taken whole.
In however many years left that I have on this incredible planet, do I want to look back, on my death bed, and say 'yes, I finished my to-do list every night: that was a life well-lived'? And if its not, then why exactly are we all giving so so much to this model that takes more from us than we have to give?
But the more I looked around, the more I saw people bragging about how little time they had for themselves-- as if martyring themselves to the shrine of productivity made them somehow worthwhile.
There’s time to spare. This is one of the things I wasn’t prepared for — the amount of unfilled time, the long parentheses of nothing. Time as white sound. If only I could embroider. Weave, knit, something to do with my hands. I want a cigarette. I remember walking in art galleries, through the nineteenth century: the obsession they had then with harems. Dozens of paintings of harems, fat women lolling on divans, turbans on their heads or velvet caps, being fanned with peacock tails, a eunuch in the background standing guard. Studies of sedentary flesh, painted by men who’d never been there. These pictures were supposed to be erotic, and I thought they were, at the time; but I see now what they were really about. They were paintings about suspended animation; about waiting, about objects not in use. They were paintings about boredom. But maybe boredom is erotic, when women do it, for men.
| Margaret Atwood, fromThe Handmaid’s Tale
I am attracted to ellipsis, to the unsaid, to suggestion, to eloquent, deliberate silence. The unsaid, for me, exerts great power: often I wish an entire poem could be made in this vocabulary. It is analogous to the unseen; for example, to the power of ruins, to works of art either damaged or incomplete. Such works inevitably allude to larger contexts; they haunt because they are not whole, though wholeness is implied: another time, a world in which they were whole, or were to have been whole, is implied. There is no moment in which their first home is felt to be the museum.
| Louise Glück, "Disruption, Hesitation, Silence", in American Poetry Review, Vol. XXII, No. 5 (1993), p. 30
Food, fire, walks, dreams, cold, sleep, love, slowness, time, quiet, books, seasons – all these things, which are not really things, but moments of life – take on a different quality at night-time, where the moon reflects the light of the sun, and we have time to reflect what life is to us, knowing that it passes, and that every bit of it, in its change and its difference, is the here and now of what we have.
∆ Jeanette Winterson, Darkness is the time to think, to dream, to love …
October 31st, 2016