Discover the many meanings of silence with Grace Farms Foundation’s Arts Initiative this month as part of our Practicing series—interdisciplinary programming, which explores spiritual and ethical concepts.
As individuals and communities, we experience different forms of silence in our daily lives. In 1973, Paul Goodman defined nine common types in his publication Speaking and language: defence of poetry:
“Not speaking and speaking are both human ways of being in the world, and there are kinds and grades of each. There is the dumb silence of slumber or apathy; the sober silence that goes with a solemn animal face; the fertile silence of awareness, pasturing the soul, whence emerge new thoughts; the alive silence of alert perception, ready to say, “This… this…”; the musical silence that accompanies absorbed activity; the silence of listening to another speak, catching the drift and helping him be clear; the noisy silence of resentment and self-recrimination, loud with subvocal speech but sullen to say it; baffled silence; the silence of peaceful accord with other persons or communion with the cosmos.”
While these are recognizable experiences and inform our exploration of silence, they don’t offer a complete understanding of the subject. It is important to consider, for example, the presence of silence before, during, and in the aftermath of injustice.
Consider silence as a form of contemplation or predicate for just action.
Consider, also, the silence of negated voices of the oppressed or unheard; the quieting silence of despair and dread in the face of violence and political oppression; the silence that results from being hushed; the silence of bystanders who take no action; and the silence that is broken by protest and viewed as a form of activism.
Consider the ritual of observing moments of silence after an injustice occurs, when people come together to reflect in the aftermath of a catastrophe.
The notion of finding artistic expression in intentional quiet resonates with many scholars and artists, literally and metaphorically. If you’re interested in these ideas, we invite you to meet our creative team featuring rising stars from the New York City Ballet, a scholar and author, a composer and sound designer, a poet, and musicians.
On Friday, June 16, from 7:30 to 8:30 pm, scholar and author Peter Bouteneff will share insights into our ongoing investigation of the multivalent character of silence.
On Saturday, June 17, from 3 to 5 pm our Practicing Silence creative team, will present their findings through a performative new work in the Sanctuary.