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"Celebrating Silence": Notes Towards Day 27 (Thurs, Dec. 10)

Anne Dalke's picture

I. 2:25-3:00: Joel and Jody will join us for an initial gathering,
snacks, a sharing of appreciations (and regrets) of our 360

II. 3:00-3:15: silence
by Kieres and Riley

II. 3:15-3:30: a discussion of my essay on "Articulating Silence"-- and/or
Maria Popova's The Origin and Cultural Evolution of Silence
Gordon Hempton's podcast, The Last Quiet Places, and
Kim Tingley's Whisper of the Wild.

We'd begun to talk on Tuesday about your agency/power in speaking back to what I wrote,
whether this was a case of the sort of "participatory reading" that Sula described in jail:
offering a space ... to reclaim ... agency by applying our
own readings to a book (and in this way, “adapting” it).

given shortness of time, I'd ask simply whether there was anything new for you here
(since this was, in many ways, a summary piece about the first version of this course,
offered three years ago in the first version of this 360); what surprised you?

how would you summarize what's emerged for you in our shared exploration
of 'the rhetorics of silence'? (or: what's missing from the essay...?
what should I add now, given our experiences together this semester?)

some of your on-line responses:
the practice of teachers calling on students… I’ve certainly felt pressured by that statement in the past, even if the intentions were to offer MORE freedom, rather than to take it away….
Do we have some sort of subversive attraction to this kind of speech [fake-deep] that defies monolingualism? Is it that it offers us a much needed reprieve from the straight-forwardness and fast pace of day-to-day language that doesn’t ever seem to quite reach the truth?
... how silly this culture of monolingualism in writing seems now coming into it with the understanding that no creator can REALLY know their audience, while no audience member can REALLY know themselves. If we accept this reality, how might it open the doors for radical forms of self-expression that are that much closer to the “truth?”

Abby: where is space for educators to be vulnerable about their not-knowing? ….
How early do we learn that speech is the primary way to express our “insights, suggestions, questions, and comments”? What happens to those inner phenomena when they are not allowed to be voiced?

Julia: To me, the classroom is a constructed place, somewhere beyond which I cannot breathe as fully or think outside the bounds given me or hear the universe. Everything is artificial, and hard-edged....
There is so much we keep locked inside of ourselves, that silence forces us to notice and turn over. We can’t pretend ignorance when there is nothing to distract us from ourselves.

Han: in China are mostly lectures that only the lecturers are the ones speaking in classes. And the students are habitually being silenced. I almost got myself used to it and forwent any of my critical thinking until I started to feel more and more dissatisfied of this unilateral “communication”…. here I came. However, I started to feel dissatisfied again. I felt that I left one extreme (of silence) and came to another extreme (of anti-silence).

Riley: It seems that classrooms and conferences can fall into that Freire notion of banking education – depositing and sharing without opening oneself to receive anything in return.

Farida: I often used silence as a means of escaping, a shield from everything, including myself, but never as a force that I can used to contribute to my learning….what if we had allowed silence as part of the discussion…..
We could had have even more productive discussion had we been able to use silence as way of learning and processing the discussion and furthering the discussion....
I  think that it’s also better to remain silent in order to learn and survive.

Joie: we often reveal more with our silences than with what we say. I personally hide behind my words most of the time, my jargon, my rhetoric, my academic know-how....
There are times when the choice to silence yourself must be to create room for those that have come across that choice less often and so it is not a true autonomy. But perhaps it is the closest we can come to egalitarian choice.

Kieres: I started to realize that my assumption was that spoken language was infallible, which it is not. Words can be clunky and come out wrong, sometimes what you crafted perfectly in your head can be misconstrued in someone else’s mind….I believe a lot of this is tied to my own socializations around silence being perceived as a lack and a poor reflection on people who are silent…I applaud your chapter for really challenging my own thoughts around silence. …so often the institution of academia is self perpetuating without the room for self reflection and critique. Overall, I get a subdued rebel vibe to the chapter.

Rhett: silence and trauma are pretty interrelated. at what point does discomfort become a reliving of trauma for those who have been silenced? at what point is there “too much” silence? at what point does silence take away from, rather than add to?

Meera: Interested in the silence that comes from dreams. The subconscious and unconscious are not exactly silent; they makes their presence presence known through sparks of understanding or through altering the conscious mind. Is the “silent” unconscious the purest, deepest form of ourselves? Is that something that we should seek to access when we strive for “productive” silence?

Madison, Rosa, Sylvia, Tong...?