As I contemplated what to write today, my mind repeatedly drifted back to a concept I played with some time ago: the power words carry not only with their presence, but also with their absence. Perhaps particularly with their absence.
I know how to deal in words. I can use them to soothe, intrigue, challenge, impress, or offend. I can pummel people with them or use them to deflect their targeted blows. Words celebrate, congratulate, contemplate, and correlate. They accuse, defend, justify, and exonerate. They empower and emasculate, deify and humble, elect and depose. Words can do anything.
Maybe it’s just me, but I find the silence left in their absence to be absolutely crushing. Like the heavy air that builds before a storm, the intentional withdrawal of words oppresses me.
Few people will argue that words can be weapons. But many forget that withholding them can be deadly, too.
Use them wisely. And don’t use them wisely.
“The notes I handle no better than many pianists. But the pauses between the notes — ah, that is where the art resides!”. – Artur Schnabel
***Apparently I’m riffing on an old theme. For more of the same, read my 2011 post, The sound of silence.