Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Reading Absences, Silences

In the strictest sense, all the contents of consciousness are ineffable. Even the simplest sensation is, in its totality, indescribable. Every work of art, therefore, needs to be understood not only as something rendered, but also as a certain handling of the ineffable. In the greatest art, one is always aware of things that cannot be said (rules of "decorum"), of the contradiction between expression and the presence of the inexpressible. Stylistic devices are also techniques of avoidance. The most potent elements in a work of art are, often, its silences. (Susan Sontag, "On Style")

How often are we careful enough in our art of reading to read silences in the text?

1 comment:

Nathan Zimmermann said...

I would argue that the art of discerning silences and the purposes for said silences is rapidly becoming a lost art.

I have added that litany of concepts that the public school system no longer deems important enough to carefully and constructively elucidate within English course taught at high school and middle school levels.