Brain Pickings is a newsletter of curiosity, the humanities, and examining the internal human condition. Last Sunday’s newsletter featured a snippet from the writer and psychiatrist Paul Goodman on silence:
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 and subvocal speech but sullen to say it; baffled silence; the silence of peaceful accord with other persons or communion with the cosmos.
And there are other types of silence. The humble silence of sympathy. The resigned silence of one who knows when words are useless. The hidden, heavy silence of one who carries a sorrow alone.
And…the fragile silence in which a hope emerges. The generous silence of forgiveness. The golden silence of honoring a memory.
How many shades of silence are there? Is there a spectrum of its volubility?