Twelfth weekly sum of daily notes, in the run-up to Silence: 2014, a cross-border artistic witness. See the Soulographie site (soulographie dot org) for the day-to-day.
Silence: December 2014.
Artists worldwide to practice silence through the month as they will, in different ways, to deepen global contemplative capacity cross-culturally, and demonstrate mass solidarity.
From Book of Tobit:
“When you turn back to him with all your heart, to do what is right before him, then he will turn back to you, and no longer hide his face from you.”
To see What You’re Looking For – the big thing, the motive force, the original blessing – you’ve got to move (turn, change your heart). Silence can give us room in which to turn.
Feast of St. Aengus, author or the Feliré, (Festology of the Saints; martyrology), written 805: “May Tua’s prayer which is not speech, protect us.” Elsewhere, in a translator’s note (Whitley Stokes) – “Longarad was a master of study and jurisprudence and history and poetry. To him once came Columcille (as a guest), and he hid his books from the latter, and Columcille left a (banning) word on his books, i.e. “May that as to which thou showest inhospitality be of no profit after thee!” And this has been fulfilled, for still the books remain and no one studies them. When Lon was dead the book-satchels that were in the cell where Columcille dwelt fall. All are silent at that noisy shaking of the books.”
We are silent in order to attend to the opening up of knowledge that inhospitality has shut?
“O sing him a song that is new, play loudly, with all your skill.”
Our newness, our loudness can only be silence against this him/hymn/music of the spheres, the absolute and faithful song?
“Play creates a zone of proximal development of the child [a zone of proximal development is the gap between what a child can and cannot do – the zone of stretching, of experiment]. In play a child always behaves beyond his average age, above his daily behavior; in play it is as though he were a head taller than himself. As in the focus of a magnifying glass, play contains all developmental tendencies in a condensed form and is itself a major source of development… Action in the imaginative sphere, in an imaginary situation, the creation of voluntary intentions, and the formation of real-life plans and volitional motives -all appear in play and make it the highest level of preschool development. The child moves forward essentially through play activity.”
– Lev Vygotsky
Silence is play, a zone of proximal development?
From the Acts of Peter in the apocrypha, thought to be the source of the legend that Peter was martyred upside-down; he says this from his cross:
What is Christ, but the word, the sound of God? So that the word is the upright beam whereon I am crucified. And that which crosses it is the nature of man. And the nail which holds the cross-tree unto the upright in the midst thereof is the conversion and repentance of man. Now I give you thanks with that voice which is understood in silence, which is not heard openly, which proceeds not from the body, which goes not into ears of flesh, which is not heard of corruptible substance, which exists not in the world, neither is sent forth upon earth, nor written in books, which is owned by one and not by another: but with this do I give thee thanks: with the silence of a voice, wherewith the spirit that is in me loves you, speaks to you, sees thee, and beseeches you. You are the All, and the All is in you: and you Are, and there is nought else that Is, save you only.
The design of genocide invites the incapacity of speech. Some responses: a) the madness of forgiveness – moving forward with incapacity, and damage (the way Bing Crosby, Judy Garland, Jimmy Scott, or Johnny Cash allowed their voices to change), b) a devotion to metaphor as the fruitful ruin of speech – where separate images bust out of jail and escape in the night to rob the bank, breaking their wrists to get out of handcuffs and collaborate with the new, and c) the vast creative capacity of silence. From Soulographie: The quiet of some genocide survivors in Rwanda was once called “guhahamuka” – or breathlessness; the focus on impairment. This fell out of favor, and was replaced with: “guhungabana” – to be shaken up. In pieces, awfully, but – open.
Genocide isn’t silence but the continual act of silencing, namely with noise. When a victim or survivor asserts against erasure, when survival will speak subtly, humanely – that is to say diversely… genocide overwhelms with moronic simplification, with lies, with the noise of shelter being torn from joists and ripped from lath.
Some lyrics from a song written with Newton Pittman
Showed money and grew old
What I stole and what I sold
Death’s a hole dug low and cold
Dust the judgment, cheap the gold
Rhetoric’s the art of turning souls
Dying the art of building holes
I live because the rock rolls
I live at all because the rock rolls
At the break where bone leaves bone
Where you leave yourself at your alone
Box up my old telephone
Drown it like a cat
Pour electrocution into my hat
And leave it on my bed
Lord let me wake up
From the foolish things I’ve said
When you are young and killing love
I will give no ground
I fool myself, my fool my self
And I will give no ground
Tell the new from the used
The cared for from the bruised
The silence we can live with
The silence we live through
How you wait is what you do
And catch a meeting
We were all right.
Yes we were all right
Then again – here we are