origin of cultural evolution of silence

curated by Maria..

‘Sound imposes a narrative on you,’ he said, ‘and it’s always someone else’s narrative. My experience of silence was like being awake inside a dream I could direct.’George Prochnik’s excellent In Pursuit of Silence: Listening for Meaning in a World of Noise.

Ajahn Chah, the most prominent leader of 20th-century Buddhism:

I can’t meditate with all this noise!; ‘The noise isn’t bothering you, ‘ Ajahn responded. ‘You are bothering the noise.’ As Lushtak put it to me, ‘Silence is not a function of what we think of as silence. It’s when my reaction is quiet. What’s silent is my protest against the way things are.’

never nothing

black square

links to – s & g – sounds of silence

Simon & Garfunkel – Sounds Of Silence (Lyrics)

Hello darkness, my old friend
I’ve come to talk with you again
Because a vision softly creeping
Left its seeds while I was sleeping
And the vision that was planted in my brain
Still remains
Within the sound of silence

In restless dreams I walked alone
Narrow streets of cobblestone
‘Neath the halo of a street lamp
I turned my collar to the cold and damp
When my eyes were stabbed by the flash of a neon light
That split the night
And touched the sound of silence

And in the naked light I saw
Ten thousand people, maybe more
People talking without speaking
People hearing without listening
People writing songs that voices never share
And no one dared
Disturb the sound of silence

“Fools”, said I, “You do not know
Silence like a cancer grows
Hear my words that I might teach you
Take my arms that I might reach you”
But my words, like silent raindrops fell
And echoed
In the wells of silence

*And the people bowed and prayed
To the neon god they made

And the sign flashed out its warning
In the words that it was forming
And the sign said, “The words of the prophets are written on the subway walls
And tenement halls”
And whispered in the sounds of silence

*fitting with questioning the book, and literacy, and who’s words matter.. do words matter.. ness


esp in the wild\erness

begin being ness

was quiet enough


wikipedia small

Silence is the lack of audible sound or presence of sounds of very low intensity. By analogy, the word silence can also refer to any absence of communication, including in media other than speech. Silence is also used as total communication, in reference to nonverbal communication and spiritual connection. Silence also refers to no sounds uttered by anybody in a room or area. Silence is an important factor in many cultural spectacles, as in rituals.


shared by Simon in rhizo14 – (he also shared Maria’s silence post):

jm coetzee quote

rhizo14 w4 to be exact.. here’s Dave bringing it on..

moves toward the definite – and not the relational

something about the written word that makes the journey of learning a finite one.. where we can have a jury that can tell us whether or not we have won or not..


shared by Dave Gray in one of his newsletters
and then there’s….. John Cage (many notes/highlights from silence on John’s page):
silence by cage

links to pdf


from Maria on John – art and silence

art as a form of constructive anarchy, and silence as a counterpoint to mutual reactivity — something that helps us enlarge rather than contract each other’s goodness.


It would be good if we could make our changes nonviolently. That’s how changes in art take place. The reason why we know we could have nonviolent social change is because we know we have nonviolent art change. We mustn’t believe that you can only change by killing because you can also change by creating.



still ness

Doug Peterson (@dougpete) tweeted at 3:12 AM – 31 May 2017 :

Inside the quietest place on Earth via @flipboard (


from Maria on Adrienne Rich

Silence … can be fertilizing, it can bathe the imagination, it can, as in great open spaces — I think of those plains stretching far below the Hopi mesas in Arizona — be the nimbus of a way of life, a condition of vision



Silence leads to neurogenesis – active formation of new brain cells in the hippocampus where memories form

So we like silence for what it doesn’t do—it doesn’t wake, annoy, or kill us—but what does it do? When Florence Nightingale attacked noise as a “cruel absence of care,” she also insisted on the converse: Quiet is a part of care, as essential for patients as medication or sanitation. It’s a strange notion, but one that researchers have begun to bear out as true.


Bernardi and his colleagues discovered that randomly inserted stretches of silence also had a drastic effect, but in the opposite direction. In fact, two-minute silent pauses proved far more relaxing than either “relaxing” music or a longer silence played before the experiment started.

The blank pauses that Bernardi considered irrelevant, in other words, became the most interesting object of study. Silence seemed to be heightened by contrasts, maybe because it gave test subjects a release from careful attention. “Perhaps the arousal is something that concentrates the mind in one direction, so that when there is nothing more arousing, then you have deeper relaxation,” he says.


 when sounds continue in a relatively constant manner, the neurons largely stop reacting. “What the neurons really do is signal whenever there’s a change,” Wehr says.


 Like Bernardi, she thought of silence as a control that wouldn’t produce an effect.

As it turned out, even though all the sounds had short-term neurological effects, not one of them had a lasting impact. Yet to her great surprise, Kirste found that two hours of silence per day prompted cell development in the hippocampus, the brain region related to the formation of memory, involving the senses. This was deeply puzzling: The total absence of input was having a more pronounced effect than any sort of input tested.


Perhaps the total absence of sound may have been so artificial, she reasoned—so alarming, even—that it prompted a higher level of sensitivity or alertness in the mice.

Neurogenesis could be an adaptive response to uncanny quiet.


We saw that silence is really helping the new generated cells to differentiate into neurons, and integrate into the system.”


Conditions like dementia and depression have been associated with decreasing rates of neurogenesis in the hippocampus. If a link between silence and neurogenesis could be established in humans, she says, perhaps neurologists could find a therapeutic use for silence.


While it’s clear that external silence can have tangible benefits, scientists are discovering that under the hoods of our skulls “there isn’t really such a thing as silence,” says Robert Zatorre, an expert on the neurology of sound. “In the absence of sound, the brain often tends to produce internal representations of sound.”


This is a reminder of the brain’s imaginative power: On the blank sensory slate of silence, the mind can conduct its own symphonies. But it’s also a reminder that even in the absence of a sensory input like sound, the brain remains active and dynamic.


There seemed to be a type of background brain activity that was most visible, paradoxically, when the test subject was in a quiet room, doing absolutely nothing.


For decades, scientists had known that the brain’s “background” activity consumed the lion’s share of its energy. Difficult tasks like pattern recognition or arithmetic, in fact, only increased the brain’s energy consumption by a few percent. This suggested that by ignoring the background activity, neurologists might be overlooking something crucial. “When you do that,” Raichle explains, “most of the brain’s activities end up on the cutting room floor.”

the energy we’re missing


In 2001, Raichle and his colleagues published a seminal paper that defined a “default mode” of brain function—situated in the prefrontal cortex, active in cognitive actions—implying a “resting” brain is perpetually active, gathering and evaluating information. Focused attention, in fact, curtails this scanning activity. The default mode, Raichle and company argued, has “rather obvious evolutionary significance.” Detecting predators, for example, should happen automatically, and not require additional intention and energy.

Follow-up research has shown the default mode is also enlisted in self-reflection. In 2013, in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, Joseph Moran and colleagues wrote the brain’s default mode network “is observed most closely during the psychological task of reflecting on one’s personalities and characteristics (self-reflection), rather than during self-recognition, thinking of the self-concept, or thinking about self-esteem, for example.” During this time when the brain rests quietly, wrote Moran and colleagues, our brains integrate external and internal information into “a conscious workspace.”

Freedom from noise and goal-directed tasks, it appears, unites the quiet without and within, allowing our conscious workspace to do its thing, to weave ourselves into the world, to discover where we fit in. That’s the power of silence.


“If you want to know yourself you have to be with yourself, and discuss with yourself, be able to talk with yourself.”

imagine self-talk as data. as the day.

……Vikman remembers a time when she experienced the rarity of nearly complete silence. Standing in the Finnish wilderness, she strained her ears to pick out the faintest sounds of animals or wind. “It’s strange,” she says, “the way you change. You have all the power—you can break the silence with even with the smallest sounds. And then you don’t want to do it. You try to be as quiet as you can be.”

never nothing going on ness..

and when we get that luxury.. that’s when the goodness in us comes alive.. can be heard.. followed whimsically.. by all of us..

let’s trust that.. let’s just see..

a nother way


sound of silence via Maria:

A tender reminder that silence is not the absence of sound but the presence of an inward-listening awareness.


“There are many fine things which we cannot say if we have to shout,” Henry David Thoreau


Susan Sontag reminded us half a century ago — that“silence remains, inescapably, a form of speech,” that it has its own aesthetic, and that learning to wield it is among the great arts of living.


Of the nine kinds of silence that Sontag’s contemporary and friend Paul Goodman outlined, “the fertile silence of awareness, pasturing the soul” is the kind we seem to have most hastily forsaken — and yet it is also the one we most urgently need if we are to reclaim the aesthetic of silence in the art of living.


In that moment, he (Yoshio) learns what we so easily forget: that silence is not the absence of sound but the presence of an inward-listening awareness, an attunement of the mind’s ear and an orientation of the spirit toward a certain inner stillness — perhaps the positive counterpoint to loneliness, which so often thrives amid the crowd.



white noise


the sound of silence via Maria

“There are many fine things which we cannot say if we have to shout,” Henry David

Of the nine kinds of silence that Sontag’s contemporary and friend Paul Goodman outlined, “the fertile silence of awareness, pasturing the soul” is the kind we seem to have most hastily forsaken — and yet it is also the one we most urgently need if we are to reclaim the aesthetic of silence in the art of living.

The next morning, he arrives at school before everyone else and sits down to read a story, which absorbs him so wholly that he is transported to the elusive place he had been searching for all along.

Suddenly, in the middle of a page, he heard it. No sounds of footsteps, no people chattering, no radios, no bamboo, no kotos being tuned. In that short moment, Yoshio couldn’t even hear the sound of his own breath. Everything felt still inside him. Peaceful, like the garden after it snowed. Like feather-stuffed futons drying in the sun. Silence had been there all along.

In that moment, he learns what we so easily forget: that silence is not the absence of sound but the presence of an inward-listening awareness, an attunement of the mind’s ear and an orientation of the spirit toward a certain inner stillness — perhaps the positive counterpoint to loneliness, which so often thrives amid the crowd

“silence remains, inescapably, a form of speech, Susan Sontag

no words ness


on convo and silence and love

my buddy by Patti Smith

We didn’t have to talk then, and that is real friendship. Never uncomfortable with silence, which, in its welcome form, is yet an extension of conversation.


on silence.. quiet enough to see

Nikola Danaylov (@singularityblog) tweeted at 5:49 AM – 5 Aug 2019 :
One of those emergency personal development lessons of life that I have to learn and faster like right now #stoic #philosophy (

silence is strength


on silence and music

via maria – aldous huxley – music at night –

From pure sensation to the intuition of beauty, from pleasure and pain to love and the mystical ecstasy and death — all the things that are fundamental, all the things that, to the human spirit, are most profoundly significant, can only be experienced, not expressed. The rest is always and everywhere silence.

After silence that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.

beyond words ness


CityLab (@CityLab) tweeted at 5:25 AM – 19 Nov 2019 :
“Darkness is one of those primal things, along with silence, nature, and oxygen, that people need,” says @mbleijenberg, national coordinator at @nachtvandenacht. (

on holland turning off night lights


from David Whyte‘s consolations:



the body is inhabited in a different way when we are alone than when we are with others..  alone, we live in our bodies as a question rather than a statement

curiosity over decision making .. maté trump law.. et al

the permeability of being alone asks us to re imagine ourselves, to become impatient w ourselves, to tire of the same old story and then slowly hour by hour, ,to start to tell the story in a diff way as other parallel ears, ones we were previously unaware of , begin to listen to us more carefully in the silence.. for a solitary life to flourish, even if it is only for  few precious hours, aloneness asks us to make a friend of silence, and just as importantly.. to inhabit that silence in our own particular way, to find our very own way  into our own particular and even virtuoso way of being alone

alone ness.. silence.. self-talk as data.. quiet enough to see


quiet in own room


to inhabit silence in our aloneness is to stop telling the story altogether.. aloneness always leads to rawness and vulnerability, to a fearful simplicity , to not recognizing and to now knowing, to the wish to find any company other than that not knowing, unknown self,..

one of the elemental dynamics of self compassion is to understand our deep reluctance to be left to ourselves

perry sleep alone law

to be alone is not necessarily to be absent form the company of others, the radical step is to let ourselves alone, to cease the berating voice that is constantly trying to interpret and force the story from too small and too complicated a perspective. even in company a sense of imminent aloneness is a quality that can be cultivated..


to feel alone in the presence of others is also to understand the singularity of human existence whilst experiencing the deep physical current that binds us to others.. whether we want that binding or no.. aloneness can measure togetherness even thru a sense of distance


at the beginning of the 21st cent.. to feel alone or want to be alone is deeply unfashionable: to admit to feeling alone is to reject and betray others, as if they are not good company, and do not have entertaining, interesting lives of their own to distract us, and to actually seek to be alone is a radical act; to want to be alone is to refuse a certain kind of conversational hospitality and to turn to another door, and another kind  of welcome, not necessarily define by human vocabulary

hospitalityconstant hospitality law

rumi words law

no words ness

monet to see law: ‘to see we must forget the name of the thing we are looking at.’
Claude Monet

it may be that time away from a work, an idea of ourselves, or a committed partner is the very essence of appreciation for the other.. to be able to let them alone as we let ourselves lone, to live something that feels like a choice again, to find ourselves lone as a looked for achievement, not a state to which we have been condemned

off script.. beyond finite set of choices et al


from David Whyte‘s consolations:




real silence puts any present understanding to shame; orphans us form certainty; leads us beyond the well known and accepted reality and confronts us w the unknown and previously unacceptable convo about to break in upon our lives

silence does not end skepticism but makes it irrelevant..

in silence, essence speaks to us of essence itself..


we begin to join the convo thru the portal of a present unknowing, robust vulnerability, revealing in the way we listen, a different ear, a more perceptive eye, an imagination refusing to come too early to a conclusion, and belonging to a different person than the one who first entered the quiet

to become deeply silent is not to become still, but to become tidal and seasonal, a coming and going that has its own inimitable, essential character, a story not fully told