ESR 8 Blog June 2021: Marteinn Sindri Jónsson


I picked up my three-year-old son from his kindergarten yesterday. I was seriously afraid that he would give me a hard time for the last two months that I’ve been away. Instead, his face lit up like the sun when he saw me, and he jumped off the swing. I came towards him, making sure that the large swing would not hit him as it swung back. He came running into my arms and hugged me. He held so tight, he did not say anything, and I did not need to say anything, there was not anything to be said.

Silence — if only one could write silence. Not the word ‘silence’ but silence itself. How would a silent blog look like? A blog is perhaps the opposite of silence, it is one of these traces of the incessant lines of thought that swarm in our mind. But also, it is through reading and writing, amongst so many other strategies that many of us attain some sort of silence. By focusing on one stream of thought at a time, mine, or someone else’s, I get at least towards silence.

In The Silence of Animals (2013) John Gray offers a critique of progress and other modern myths. In a classic manner, that evokes Montaigne’s questions about the playing with/being played by the cat, Gray suggests that while humans are constantly trying to construct tools to silence the world (cathedrals and works of art, meditation or cultivated physical exertion) silence is the natural state of animals. In that sense, society’s effort to progress, fails to produce what is already there in the state of nature. Of course, we should be wary of such arguments, we don’t know if there is silence in the minds of other species, and arguments about natural and original states are terribly fragile and suspect. Also, silence is not only respite. It can also be a powerful tool of oppression — and just as well a powerful tool of resistance.

Silence is never alone. The silence I shared with my son yesterday was warm, it was a tight embrace and his small head on my shoulder. This blog is an attempt at a different kind of silence, even if it is only fully in place, for a brief instant, succeeding the last word.

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