E L S I L E N C I O Círculo Cultural Holandes 15 de agosto de 1990
10 de abril,2018 - Pasó mucho tiempo desde que pensé esta charla, hoy los ejemplos serían otros, o no la escribiría. O no la escribiría porque ya escribí esta.
La percepción del silencio y desde el silencio del mundo contemporaneo cotidiano y estético.
The perception and comprehension of silence and from silence of our everyday life and of the
S I L E N C E SILEO SILENTIUM
SILEO : to be still noiseless quiet
silentes : the silent the dead
SILENTIUM : silence stillness quietness
animadvertere cum silentio ; to notice in silence
TACEO, tacui, tacitum :to be silent II to be silent about
anything pass over in silence
TACITA : the goddess of silence
TACITO : I. silently in silence
II. quietly, secretly. taciturn
Cassell's Latin Dictionary edition 1948.
O N S I L E N C E
Silence is an appreciation of sound, and silence is a depreciation of sound. This is, basically, what
this talk is about.
Silence as the void between sound and sound : the interval sometimes the background of sound, and of meaning, and sometimes meaning itself.
Silence as a blessing
Silence as wisdom
Silence as communion
The landscape in which we have grown up defines our capacity or our incapacity to be silent or to
What language we use, how we use it, and how we space it, our use of silence and of speech relates
originally to geography. We learn from our environment the way to express our thoughts, our needs and our feelings. A child in La Boca, the district by the river, will speak differently and more than a
child in Humahuaca. This child born and bred in the hills of Jujuy will communicate in silence, as
much as with words, for he is the descendant of quiet people.
Let us compare in our minds a film by Ingmar Bergman and another one by Woody Allen, and the point is made.
The child who has played alone or with others in a garden or in a field in the country has learnt to keep quiet and to listen in a way that the child who is always indoors or on a busy street has not. The countryside, the garden, lead the child to think quietly his own thoughts, lead him to introspection. Youmay remember yourselves time spent alone as children outdoors, or in quiet houses indoors, or in
rooms that were far enough from the noises that were heard so as to create a void between those
noises and yourselves.
This void provided the space in which you could develop in silence your own identity. If you were
alone outdoors and your attention consciously, or unconsciously was held by the sounds of the
countryside, your own identity merged with nature, and you became part of a cosmic plan - which
knowingly, or unknowingly, brought you peace and strength.
El ejercicio aislado
crea un espacio
en el que me puedo
mover con libertad.
por el silencio
es una excusa
la voz interior.
silence as aloneness - or to be oneself in silence
This brings to mind the desert and meditation, and brings to mind a sense of
freedom. The freedom that we acquire when we understand that being alone is not
being lonely, and that having the freedom to think our thoughts and to think about the
world we live in at length, and intently, is the greatest gift.
I, myself, find it difficult to understand that one can achieve a sense of identity and of
purpose in one's own life without silence and introspection. And yet, I know that it is not
only in the desert, or the empty spaces that this sense of identity and this sense of being is
found, it is also possible to recognize quietude in the multitude, quietude within the
noise, and to rejoice in this silent space, where we can stand or sit as on a prayer rug, and
enjoy the feelings in our hearts and, or, the thoughts in our minds.
The child in a busy street has learnt to look for sounds, to pay attention to sounds that may imply pleasure - a street vendor selling something nice to eat - or danger, - a bus down the road at full speed. The background noise works out as a sort of screen on which other noises take shape. This background noise is his equivalent of silence. This street wise child will obviously have a different appreciation
of silence and sound than our child in the countryside.
Children doing homework with the T V on, being able to abstract their thoughts to work,
half paying attention to what is going on and what is said on the screen. This may be the
new contemporary concept of silence.
Silence as anguish and drama
"The killing fields", the film by Roland Joffe on Cambodia and the Khmer Rouge, is calle
in Spanish : Los gritos del silencio. A people brainwahed into silence, into denial, into
repetition of arbitrary statements, cry out their anguish in silence.
"los chicos del silencio"
In Colombia, the young boys who are recruited and trained as go-between and killers by
the drug barons are given for their work a large sum of money, which will fullfill their
own needs in an extravagant way, and the basic needs of their families for a generation or
two. Most of them die very young, and they know it may be so beforehand. If caught,
they cannot be held prisoners for they are legally too young to go to prison, some as
young as ten years old. Few survive. The first cases of children who have been caught
and released are being studied by psychologists and other specialists now. These children
answer no questions, they refuse to talk. They were brainwashed into silence. They are
called : los chicos del silencio : the children of silence. It is only through unfinished
stories that they are given to finish, that the doctors working with them have been able to
arrive at the first conclusions. These first cases have turned out to be eldest boys of
extremely poor, fatherless families. These boys must feel the glamour of the reckless lifes
they lead, but the deal with their employers is seriously kept, with the consent of their
mothers. It is the means to help their families beyond the pale of starvation.
Who do we blame for the fate of these children ? Who is to blame ?
If I keep silent on these issues when I ought to speak out, my silence shares in the
violence done by the drug barons. In our contemporary world issues are everybody's
responsibility. To choose to be silent, as we have done many times in Argentina, is to
chose to hand out decisions to whoever wants power over others.
In Latin America, since the conquest, the ethic of power was exersized through what was not said.
If you have seen Camila, or Miss Mary -fimls by María Luisa Bemberg- you may understand
what I am talking about. In Camila, the father doest not defend her daughter from death,
so as not to speak out against Rosas - in Miss Mary, what is wrong with the family is
covered up, and Miss Mary, the english governess, chosen as scapegoat on the principle
that if she is guilty, the others are innocent. Miss Mary, being the outsider, was an easy
Sí no te dije
antes de enseñarte
con mi silencio.
Silence as etiquette - silence as indiscretion
If someone came into this room while we are all up and about talking away, we would not stop talking unless it were somebody of consequence - of the highest consequence, like let'say, your Queen : Queen Beatrix, or our president, president Menem Then it would be appropiate to be silent, and to stand at attention to greet her or him,or to be greeted by her or by him.
If someone else came into the room when we were all up and about, and most of us talking away - if a woman came into this room who had been found out having an affair with somebody else's
husband, or, someone whom we had learnt has been told is dramatically ill, if when she comes into the room we would stop talking then, to look at her, it would be an indiscretion, and it would be unkind.
The claustrophobic silence of polite society
As depicted in novels by E. M. Foster: Passage to India, A Room with a View, Meurice.
In the Irish novels by Molly Kean, such as Good Behaviour
silence as pseudomystery - the neurotic silence of Greta Garbo
silence as concealment: the death of Marilyn Monroe - the death of the Kennedys
John Cage one of the most interesting composers of our time, and certainly one of the more interesting thinkers, wrote a silent piece in three movements called 4' 33"
"The title refers to the number of minutes and seconds the piece takes to perform, but Cage liked the thought that it could also refer to feet and inches - a sort of space-time continuum. Cage had come to realize that there was really no such thing as silence. This was brought home to him with great force when he was taken into a sound -proof room, called an anechoic chamber, in the physics laboratory at Harvard; instead of the total silence he had expected, he heard two sounds in the chamber, one high and one low, and was told when he came out that the high sound was his nervous system in operation and the low one was his blood circulating. If true silence do not exist in nature, then the silences in a piece of music, Cage decided, could be defined simply as "sounds not intended", and Cage made up his mind to write a piece
composed entirely of such sounds. Seeing Rauschenberg's all-white paintings at Black Mountain - canvases painted flat white, on which the only images to be seen were the shadows and reflections of the painting's environment - gave him the encouragement he needed. Cage's 4'33" received its first performance in August of 1952, at the Mverick Concert Hall in Woodstock, New York. David Tudor, who performed it, solved the problem of the piece's division into three parts by closing the cover of the piano keybord at the start of each movement and by opening it at the end of the specified time."
John Cage, out of The Bride and the Bachelors by Calvin Tomkins
."le silence représente encore et surtout une entité théorique fondamentale : il demeure parmi toutes
les manifestations diversement humaines, celle qui exprime le mieux, de facon pure, la structure
dense et compacte, sans bruit ni parole, de notre propre inconcient."
out of "Le Silence en Psychanalyse"
by J. D. Naso page 9
There is this silence in others that we cannot reach, this silence in ourselves that others cannot reach,
this depth of unexplored meaning, of meaning that has not come to the surface, that is only partially understood. And yet, this deep silence, this dense and compact structure guides our emotions, and through our emotions our actions.
And here is where the artist and the philosopher come in, and the doctor, the minister, the priest, the
A society immersed in the immediate needs of survival or of comfort, necessarily has no time for
thinking out, working out deeper and vaster preoccupations.
What time and space are really for, and what can they be like, and how we ourselves understand them
and life. How we live and suffer this life of ours, so complex, so awkward, and so rich.
Who will try telling us what this is is all about ? He or she who can keep silent and work in silence, who appears not to notice the obvious, and who notices what seems to pass unnoticed.
The man or women who can interpret silence, will understand speech. He or she who can listen to
what was not said, will be able to say what the others need to know.
SILEO to be still to be quiet implies meditation
TACEO : to be silent about something to pass over in silence, I find very dangerous
The English say : "Least said sooner mended" This is true about small irritating matters, but it is certainly not true aout things that matter. To be silent or to keep silent about what matters is very costly. It is the root of pain and evil. There is an Argentine saying, “Mejor ponerse colorado de entrada que verde despues”. It is healthier to speak out to start with.
Silence is full of meaning.
..."con quienes soy, quien me deja ser, a quien hago ser, con quien puedo estar en silencio,..."