Weekly Writing Challenge: The Sound of Other People’s Silences

Rather predictably I begin with John Cage’s 4’33 (1952). The idea of silence implicates its opposite, the implicit absence of sound recalls a presence of it; silence becomes sound. Today other voices drive the conversation and pick the music while I slide back my passenger seat in silence and enjoy the noise.

  • ‘Silence is of different kinds, and breathes different meanings.’ – Charlotte Brontë
  • ‘Silence is only frightening to people who are compulsively verbalizing.’ – William S. Burroughs
  • ‘On the fifth day, which was a Sunday, it rained very hard. I like it when it rains hard. It sounds like white noise everywhere, which is like silence but not empty.’ – Mark Haddon, ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time’
  • ‘Nothing Strengthens authority so much as silence’ – Leonardo da Vinci
  • ‘You have a great gift for silence, Watson. It makes you quite invaluable as a companion.’ – Arthur Conan Doyle, ‘The Complete Sherlock Holmes’
  • ‘Blessed is the man who, having nothing to say, abstains from giving us wordy evidence of the fact.’ – George Eliot, ‘Impressions of Theophrastus Such’
  • ‘I have always loved the desert. One sits down on a desert sand dune, sees nothing, hears nothing. Yet through the silence something throbs, and gleams…’ – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, ‘The Little Prince’
  • ‘But silence is not a natural environment for stories. They need words. Without them they grow pale, sicken and die. And then they haunt you.’ – Diane Setterfield, ‘The Thirteenth Tale’
  • ‘We went down into the silent garden. Dawn is the time when nothing breathes, the hour of silence. Everythhing is transfixed, only the light moves.’ – Leonora Carrington
  • ‘It does not do to rely to much on silent majorities, Evey, for silence is a fragile thing, one loud noise and it’s gone. But the people are so cowed and disorganised. A few might take the opportunity to protest, but it’ll just be a voice crying in the wilderness. Noise is relative to the silence preceding it. The more absolute the hush, the more shocking the thunderclap. Our masters have not heard the people’s voice for generations, Evey and it is much, much louder than they care to remember.’ – Alan Moore, ‘V for Vendetta’
  • ‘Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than speak out and remove all doubt.’ – Abraham Lincoln
  • ‘So instead of acknowledging applause, I stand there unmoving while they take part in the boldest form of dissent they can manage. Silence. Which says we do not agree. we do not condone. All of this is wrong.’ – Suzanne Collins, ‘The Hunger Games’
  • ‘All I want is blackness. Blackness and silence.’ – Sylvia Plath

Silence will fall…

(All quotes have been confirmed here. Oh! Let me know if you have any favourite silent quotes!)



9 thoughts on “Weekly Writing Challenge: The Sound of Other People’s Silences

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