Silence is Sexy


Silence is sexy. “Better to be silent and thought a fool, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt” (I don’t recall the source). I can embrace that thought. I cannot, however embrace the idea that silence can somehow be a perversely declarative utterance.

In linguistics, a declarative is a particular form of utterance that can be said to constitute a truth condition by its performance— the test is the insertion of the word “hereby” into the phrase without disrupting the meaning: “I hereby promise”. . . “I hereby declare” . . . “I hereby christen,” etc. A moment of silence contains no verb, and in my opinion is not a declarative utterance. It does nothing, except sit there looking sexy and allowing you to construct interpretation based on inaction. Tom asked, “Silence isn’t always silent, is it?” No, it isn’t. The declarations inferred are deafening. But it’s just sex, you know? It isn’t truth. I think the world needs a little truth to go along with the sexiness. But then, I suppose hiding behind silence is an age-old thing.

To Nobodaddy

Why art thou silent and invisible
Father of Jealousy?
Why dost thou hide thyself in clouds
From every searching Eye

Why darkness & obscurity
In all thy words & laws
That none dare eat the fruit but from
The wily serpent’s jaws
Or is it because Secrecy
gains females loud applause

William Blake, Rossetti Manuscript (E: 471)