Home Concepts Communication THE SILENCE BEHIND THE WORDS


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On the other hand, because real thinking occurs in the present, unattached to any past experience, no one is associated with it. It is literally a moment of empty silence, which is the pre-requisite for genuine creativity. Creativity is always from nothing, which is why actual thinking occurs so infrequently.

So much for the thoughting of the interior world. Now let’s address it in the external public domain. In 1946 George Orwell published an essay entitled, “Politics and the English Language”. In it he claimed that the English language, particularly in the political realm, was in “a bad way,” because the public discourse “ consists less and less of words chosen for the sake of their meaning, and more and more of phrases tacked together like “the sections of a prefabricated hen-house.” In other words, for the most part, political discourse is usually nothing more than the mechanical and automatic thoughting of the interior little voice switched to external loudspeaker.

The current political discourse in the United States and many other countries (and languages), is for the most part people talking at each other, not with each other; and most of what is being said takes the form of predictable prefabricated word torrents gushing into an ocean of opinion. Almost all of it is automatic and reactive, very little of it is consciously created. It’s not the discourse, which is unconscious, but rather the space in which the discourse is taking place. That space is anything but empty; it’s already always full of the thoughting manufactured by so many individuals and groups. And to quote Orwell again from the same essay: “this reduced state of consciousness, if not indispensable, is at any rate favourable to political conformity… [so that] words, like cavalry horses answering the bugle, group themselves automatically into the familiar dreary pattern.”

As counter intuitive as it may sound, the pre-requisite for conscious conversations is the capacity for silence. Heidegger probably said it best in “Being and Time”: “He who can be silent when in conversation with another can better claim to understand than the one who never stops talking…. Only in authentic speaking is silence actually possible. In order to be capable of silence one must have something to say, that is, one must have a real and rich self-awareness.”

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