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Notes Towards Day 2 (Thurs, Sept. 6): What does silence look like?

Anne Dalke's picture

I. moving into English House Lecture Hall

II. because so many of you spoke, on Tuesday, of the noisiness "inside,"
I thought we'd start, today, with 10 minutes of mindfulness meditation:

III. (re)introductions: your name, and one (unexplained...)
image that arose for you during our shared meditation

IV. so, welcome back! a reminder that on Tuesday

we listened to the "sounds of silence":
outside, in Simon & Garfunkel's song,in John Cage's 4'33"
--what did we hear?
--is silence possible?
--is it always in relationship w/ sound? (what is that relationship?)
--is it always "framed" (by this class, for example)?
--what are our experiences of silence? (to what degree are they other- or self-imposed?)
--what are the "rules" of silence?

today/next week we'll move into a related series of questions:
--how do we experience the silence of others?
--how do we silence others?
--in what spaces do we experience silence (ours or others?)
--how might the understanding of silence vary in different classes, genders, cultures, religions?
--how do we read silence in the classroom?

V. related weekend tasks
* by 5 p.m. on Sunday:
your first 3-pp. "web event" is due -- beginning with your own,
or a classmate's, or another visualization/vocalization of silence [start your paper by "quoting" it],
reflect on your own experiences of silencing and being silenced.  When, where and why do you think
this has happened? Post these reflections in our on-line class conversation;
tag them BOTH as "silence" AND " IS A WEB PAPER/EVENT."

* Our discussion on Tuesday will be about "Writing Silence";
to prepare, please read Peter Elbow's 2000 essay, “Silence:  A Collage.”
Everyone Can Write: Essays Toward a Hopeful Theory of Writing and Teaching--
AND the 7 Emily Dickinson poems on silence he references,
#407, 633, 932, 1473, 1681, 1700, 1750 (which I gathered on a website);
AND @ least two of your classmates' essays
(you are welcome to comment on'll be there anyway....:)

(we'll do some re-writing...on the computer is fine!)

I am still trying to get a handle on on-line annotation tools:
Scrivener and Acrobe Reader seem the best (but must be purchased....);
Sasha recommended GoodReader, an iPad-only application for $5...
other suggestions?

[shout-out to Estie re: link to a TED talk....]

VI.  last night, I asked you visualize silence: what does it look like?
(I was amazed @ the range...and esp. amazed by the photos of space,
those of you who had to leave the earth to find silence)
let's review these:
--as I show your image, please call out 1 nouns, 1 verb, 1 adjective
that highlight the dimensions of silence which your image foregrounds:
don't tell the stories, let go of the details-->abstract to the larger idea

can we organize these descriptions into any sense-making pattern?

VII. let's write about what we have seen:
based on this sequence of images,
"Silence is...."

read this litany aloud....

VIII. I also asked you to look @ a range of other "visualizations of silence"-->
The Scream, The Silent Scream, The Silent Scream, The Silent Scream, The Silence Supercut,
some silent films ...
what do they add to what we've seen/said?
what happens (for instance) after 'silence' is called for,
in the "silence supercut"?
what follows the call for silence?
is it silence...?