- Books, Literature, and Writing
The Struggle against Silence: What Happens Next?
A Drift Wood Shelf
Introduction: Coherence vs Chaos
Writing is the struggle to stream a coherent river of words across a page. It takes a whole heap of "silence" in order for the writer to approach the quality of "coherent." Thus the writer battles against the cacophony in the mind that tries to drown out the coherent in favor of the chaotic.
The overhyped essayist/novelist, Carlos Fuentes, once waxed philosophical, quipping: "Writing is the struggle against silence." Of course, he was dead wrong.
Fuentes struggled against that chaos and the chaos won. Thus we must turn to better sources for a more accurate definition of both "writing" and "silence."
What Silence is Really About
Silence is of the soul.
But the ordinary use of the term "silence" refers to a different animal altogether. The ordinary understanding of the term "silence" is first "absence of any sound or noise; stillness," according to dictionary.com. But from there it descends into negativity. Remaining silent about the bad things that happen on this earth is tantamount to collusion with it, which becomes a crime.
What is the opposite of silence? Is it sound or is it noise? Where does silence exist? Is there anywhere in this physical world a place that has true silence? No, there is not. But that is not what true silence is all about. Silence is about stilling the restive nature of living in a physical body that pokes and prods one to do all sorts of things, just to keep oneself entertained.
That is the key: human beings need to be entertained! But entertained by what? The human mind is entertained mostly by the phenomenon of "what happens next?" Human beings are intrigued by any story because they want to know "what happens next?" If one considers one's favorite movie, it may be realized that that movie is a favorite because it gives one the most bang for one's buck in "what happens next?"
Suppose for a moment that one now realizes that "what happens next?" is just a figment of someone’s imagination. Well, many, if not most, human minds will remain cool with that as long as the "someone" is of the Celebrity Elite. And who is the Celebrity Elite?
Entertainment by the Famous
The Celebrity Elite is inhabited by whoever or whatever has already become "famous": Classic novels/novelists. Contemporary novels/novelists. Sitcoms featuring stars who have proven they can act and have become millionaires. Classic movies/actors. Contemporary movies/actors. Political figures who have been around for decades and become "rock stars."
Even "junk scientists," who have gathered a following on Facebook and youtube are offering a sporty but distorted version of science as a medium of entertainment. Charlatans such as Bill Nye and Neil deGrasse Tyson have undercut true science for a generation of low-information individuals. So do they really deserve a claim on one's attention? Why?
Because they all have offered the "what happens next?" phenomenon. As one watches endless reruns of the sitcoms, one is still intrigued with the shenanigans of Lucy and Ricky or Rachel and Ross or Hawkeye and Trapper John and the "junk science" guys. Somehow one may feel uplifted by favorite characters from classic literature and poetry and even goofy television shows. But is one uplifted, really?
Entertainment vs Meditation
What do these entertainment venues really accomplish for anyone? They entertain—perhaps "detain" or even "distract" are better terms—keeping one from more important endeavors. What if, instead of hours on end watching those millionaires who are receiving all that money for work they performed years ago, an individual would sit in meditation which would lead one to the stillness and silence each human being so desperately craves?
But it is always easy to find a lame excuse for engaging in some "kick-back time": no human being can spend all his time in meditation, can he? Well, maybe not, but one must know that one needs to practice meditation techniques more than one does. And where is one's stillness? One's silence? How does one make meditation the most important activity in one's life, when there are so many other activities that have occupied that spot for decades?
Inner Victories vs Outer Activities
Each individual must discover his own unique method for establishing his routine that leads to his highest good. Knowing that inner victories are more important than outer entertainment goes a long way in assisting the mind to find its path. But many, likely most, people do not even know that being on such a path is what they need. And also likely most people do enjoy wondering what comes next, even in a deeply personal, expository essay.
Silence offers the mind and heart a great opportunity and environment. Silence possesses a great efficacy for the soul that suffers the indignity of remaining unaware of itself in the face of noise, adventure, and utter chaos. Writing can serve to usher in that silence by allowing the writer who will take the time to muse on eternal things that open the mind to Divine Silence. That path to the Divine Silence leads straight home, where the soul can find rest while still encased in the physical body.
Instead of heeding the quotation by Carlos Fuentes, "Writing is the struggle against silence," it would be far better to realize the quotation by Paramahansa Yogananda: "What joy awaits discovery in the silence behind the portals of your mind no human tongue can tell."
What a blessing one can realize by allowing true spiritual silence to enter the mind and heart. The biblical admonishment, "Be still and know that I am God," (Psalm 46:10 KJV) remains one worth taking to heart. Being still and listening in one's inner silence results in filling the void that at first seems so intimidating and hollow. As the Divine fills that silent void, all the sacredly promised blessings come pouring in.
"Behold, the Kingdom of God Is Within You"
© 2017 Linda Sue Grimes