Silence is more than a phenomenon marked by the absence of sound. Silence is an ideal. It manifests in at least two forms. The first is what we may call ‘imposed silence’. Imposed silence stems from an inability to speak up. It is the disempowered silence of the listener who is denied access to a voice.

The second is ‘composed silence’. Composed silence is not the absence of a chattering mouth but a chattering mind. The chattering mind receives nothing but echoes of its own thoughts; the person who, so busy thinking up possible responses to what you have said, does not bother listening to what you are saying. Composed silence is the silence of the mind, whereby the listener listens fully and attentively, treating their mind as an empty cup which creates the possibility for it to be filled with something new.

In the first instance, silence is a negation of possibility, a castration of the vocal cords of the other. In the second instance, silence appears as the negative space of possibility. The absence of sound provides the room for the discovery of truth. Silence, by virtue of being empty space between speech, establishes space between assertions and certainty, creating room for inquiry to occur.

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