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Owl's picture

In the Midst of Violence and Poverty: Silence

Benjamin Franklin Senior High is an image that emphasizes silence for me. As I sat by my computer looking through the photos I had taken this summer, I came across some of my old high school. I had taken these pictures on an evening out with my mother because I thought the campus looked so beautiful.  I neglected to see however, how much of the beauty I saw was due to the silence of no students walking around. When I was a student here I remember always feeling like the students' lack of interest in the school or in academia itself made way for trivial conversations and relationship that cluttered the halls of the school with noise- trivial noise. Now, as I think back on my thoughts, I realize how much of what I found so trivial was voice in the midst of silence. What I found to be so trivial, because it didn't revolve around academia, the poster board image for change and growth, was in fact a response (possibly a response they were unaware they were sending, but a response nonetheless) to media's constant protrayal of the school as an urban public school in need of assistance. Kids were acting out the very image they were being protrayed as: bad kids who are uninterested in education. Althougth I don't know whether this voice was a voice of choice or whether it was a voice that was imposed on the students, I wonder whether either voice is being heard, or whether it remains silent? 

Chandrea's picture

Silence in Sleep

Today when we were sharing our observations of silence, I noticed that many of us brought up this routine of stressing ourselves out right before we sleep at night. I'm guilty as well! Even when I actively search for silence, my thoughts don't stop and all of a sudden it gets really loud in my mind. It was frustrating that I couldn't be silent in my mind. I thought silence would be easy to come by but it's not. Although I did think of a moment of when there's absolute silence... when I'm asleep! My mind eventually stops racing with thoughts and I can finally fall asleep. I don't think any kind of sleep means there's silence - it's the dreamless nights of sleep I'm specifically thinking of. I'd like to think that while I sleep at night, there is some form of silence that I can acheive.

Sarah's picture

Silence Image: Hiking Abroad

This is a picture I took while I was abroad.  It was during our two week travel break.  Being abroad in general was a much less stressful environment than being at Bryn Mawr and during travel break, I was generally even more relaxed.  I chose this picture because I remember feeling that my mind was very clear and quiet and today in class one of the main themes seemed to be silencing our minds. I kept a blog while abroad and wrote this about the hike: We had the hike first thing after breakfast and I wasn’t super excited, but once we were out in the woods it was a really wonderful and relaxing experience. It reminded me of hikes I’ve been on with my family (with my grandparents in Connecticut and with my dad in brother in New Hampshire). Although I wouldn’t say my mind was completely free of stress ( is it ever? ) I was definitely more relaxed and at peace in the woods than I have been in such a long time…

Dan's picture

Thinking about Nature as Silence

This is a illustration I came across while traveling last semester, by two artists named Anders Meisner and Mical Noelson. It's a sort plump, child-like body with straw hands and a straw head. It has neither a mouth nor ears, and therefore has no voice -- a type of artistic scare-crow. Having grown up on a farm in WV, I feel very comfortable and familiar with not speaking or being spoken to for long periods of time, as my experience in such a rural place involved less people and and those people spoke much less often than many of the people I've met at Bryn Mawr and in Philadelphia. I can relate to the straw-headed figure, non-verbal. However, not using verbal communication isn't necessarily silence, although we sometimes consider the pauses in between bits of dialogue to be "awkward silences." Ignoring the myriad of other sounds, the "background noise,"  only acknowledges human voices as noise and denies all other sounds. Similarly, we are much more inclined to consider the absence of man-made or industrial sounds to be silence, when nature is full of sounds and life. Is this a human-centric, speech-centric view of the audible world? Is it us defining silence only in human terms?

The imagine represents a human quietness which I can relate to and enjoy, but not a silence -- a natural soundscape.


couldntthinkofanoriginalname's picture

Silence: Its opposite?

It was hard to find a representation of silence. In every google image search, I would find scenic images but then I would think of today's activity and how in the beautiful woods surrounding English house, silence was never void of noise. So, I have decided that the best representation of silence is its opposite: noise. Back home in Boston, silence for young activists is never accepted and was oppressive when enforced upon them. Thus, I have attached two images. Whether it is a small rally about student inequality or a large protest about the future of our nation, perhaps silence is best represented when people use it to make meaning--to add their own original sound to the ever-present soundtrack around them.

Uninhibited's picture

Silence, Protests, and Roles

Girl covering her mouth with her hands

I've been thinking a lot about the connection of silence with oppression, either as an enabler of oppression or a form of protest. The most obvious examples are those of marginalized groups in the US and abroad who have either been oppressed by silence or used it as a method of ending that oppression. I've been relating silence to my own life, however, when thinking about my role within my family. In my family, silence is used as a way to maintain the power dynamics of the "adults" and/or the men. I always say that my experiences at Bryn Mawr are very different than those at home because at Bryn Mawr I have a voice and know that others are interested in what I say. In my own family however, I don't feel as though it is ok for me to contradict a comment my father makes, or to showcase what I've learned because I am a woman and a daughter. I have learned to not only follow the rules of silence within my family because they are our tradition, but as a way to keep the peace, even if it keeps important parts of me hidden from those I care about the most. I very rarely question or disagree with my family members, even now as a college student, mostly because silence to us is synonymous with respect. 

Michaela's picture

Silence imagined

In a time when I feel like I'm always plugged in or listening to something, silence to me looks like taking a moment to unplug the headphones, close my eyes, and stop everything for a moment. Media, music, television, movies--pervasive, addicting, wonderful, distracting?  Cutting myself off from the information flow can be annoying--I don't really like the feeling of having my earbuds in without any sounds filtering through them, and it makes me feel vulnerable to be removed from any sensory input with my eyes shut as well. But the feeling is only temporary, and I can listen to the world without the earbuds, to the (relative) quiet of my hall and the crickets dancing outside my window. Which of these is more silent, I wonder? Does letting in the natural noise of our surroundings, or not listening to anything at all, better represent silence? I guess I'd say that earbuds with no sounds is more silent, but, at least for me, much more uncomfortable than sitting quietly in my room and listening to my fingers tapping the keys, the conversations of my hallmates, and all the "noise" that is produced in nature, that I can never turn off.

HSBurke's picture

A Silent Space

I hope I managed to do this post right. It's been a while since I've grappled with Serendip. I chose this picture based on a conversation that took place in a Social Work class I am work in. As a way for students to introduce themselves, the professor asked each student who they would bring on a space mission (no family). While the answers varied, almost every student mentioned the need for someone who would fill the silence that would inevitably permeate the mission. This, in my mind, indicated that the students percieved silence and a primarily negative aspect of their space journey -- something empty that needed to be fixed. As space is often used to represent the great unknown -- one of humanity's greatest fears -- I have chosen to represent silence with this picture of the cosmos becuase  from this conversation I learned that people are also quite fearful of silence and try to avoid it at all costs. 

A silent space

Sasha De La Cruz's picture

The app that I downloaded in order to read and annotate pdf files on my iPad

Hi Professor Dulke,

I remember you asked about an application that enabled you to read and annotate reading and I thought about the Goodreader application that I have on my iPad. It cost me about $5 but it is really good. 

Anne Dalke's picture

"Visualizing Silence"

Welcome into the "silence" portion of this 360! By Wednesday evening, please follow the instructions @ "how to add an image to your post," and put up here your current "visualization" of silence....along w/ any explanation you'd like to offer.... and don't forget to tag your posting as "silence" (you'll see the options below the "body" portion of the post).

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