I haven’t looked to see exactly how long I’ve neglected this blog. Pretty terrible to make the promise of frequent posts & then go silent for a week or two. Should I feel guilt?
It’s not like I wasn’t thinking about this blog, in fact, you may have noticed, I changed the name. ”Reading with Razor Blades” was just a touch too limiting; a little too niche. I need a little more room.
That said, I also am reconsidering the way I have been approaching this whole thing. I feel like a few of these posts veering too close to “book reviews” & that’s just fucking boring. The idea’s that pop in your head because of what you are reading is the good shit. That’s where the meat is.
So…yes, I’m STILL reading The Inevitable. But I’ve actually got something to say about this last piece I read “Silence & Awakening” by Diane Ackerman…or rather I have something to say because of it. It brings up something of a recurring theme of conversations & thoughts in the past few weeks: Silence. From hearing about John Mayer’s doctor imposed silence & Eric Victorino’s recounting to me his similar experience, to the rough, sloppy five paragraphs I wrote about a silent drive, all the way to last night’s mention of a friend’s roommate’s recent silent retreat & Ackerman’s mention of the same thing, I can’t get away from the idea of silence.
I’ll won’t lie, I’m not very hippy dippy, but this idea of a silent retreat has always been quite appealing to me. I find abstinence & self-imposed limitations very inspiring and the thought of no cars, voices or need for articulation is both frighteningly bizarre & logically attractive. As a kid, I also used to dream of running away to a Taoist monastery (do they exist?) or going to live in the forest like some feral human.
I’m not going to waste time blabbing on about how the world is getting louder & louder. We all already know all about it. We are all immersed in it together. What I will do is share this quote by Jean Arp that Ackerman includes in her piece. It seems to say it all very briefly:
Soon silence will have passed into legend. Man has turned his back on silence. Day after day he invents machine and devices that increase noise & distract humanity from the essence of life, contemplation, meditation. Tooting, howling, screeching, booming, crashing, whistling, grinding, and trilling bolster his ego.
I can’t help but wonder what kind of thoughts I would have in such a silence. How would I think differently if I knew for some period of time that I didn’t need to think of anything to say? You see it’s not just that I wanna get away from the noise of sportscasters & politicians but sometimes I’m just tired of my own damn voice too.
Sometimes I feel like living when & where we do, is like being on stage. You always have to be on. You’ve got to perform. There is no appreciation for solitude. We revel too much in our social nature. When someone tells us that they want to be alone, we automatically assume that something is wrong; they are sad, angry or suicidal. We approach solitude with fear. The idea of silence scares us. If someone actually wants to be alone, then they must be in their underwear, covered with petroleum jelly, writing out a shit list in lipstick on the walls. They must be listening to classical music. Fucking maniacs. We can’t allow that. We must beckon & tease them back into the fold.
When will we stop seeing silence as boring & solitude as mental illness? Everybody needs a break. The busyness gets boring. The busyness will drive you mad.