Words that Produce Silence

In an old interview with William Burroughs that appeared in the Paris Review he had this to say:

INTERVIEWER
In Nova Express, you indicate that silence is a desirable state. 
BURROUGHS
The most desirable state. In one sense a special use of words and pictures can conduce silence.

INTERVIEWER
Why is the wordless state so desirable? 
BURROUGHS
I think it’s the evolutionary trend. I think that words are an around-the-world, oxcart way of doing things, awkward instruments, and they will be laid aside eventually, probably sooner than we think.

 

It interests me, the kinds of words that produce silence in the listener. Not the silence of non-understanding or ignoring but silence as a response. Sometimes I try to find such words and write them down. They are rarely discovered.

Beyond that, silence as an action to which the only response is silence. The mutual silence of understanding. Sharing an emptiness that is simultaneously completely full.

The most profound experiences in human life are all beyond words…childbirth, the horror of outrageous suffering both collective and individual, orgasm, panic, encountering that which we believed was lost forever, terror, extreme natural phenomenon, loss of a loved one, our own deaths…

True creativity often starts where language ends.
~Arthur Koestler

One comment on “Words that Produce Silence

Comments are closed.