My silences had not protected me. Your silence will not protect you. But for every real word spoken, for every attempt I had ever made to speak those truths for which I am still seeking, I had made contact with other women while we examined the words to fit a world in which we all believed, bridging our differences. And it was the concern and caring of all those women which gave me strength…

Literary history and the present are dark with silences, some the silences for years by our acknowledged great; some silences hidden; some the ceasing to publish after one work appears; some the never coming to book form at all.

Tillie Olsen, quoted by Rebecca Solnit 

Music and Silence

in “Below the Belt” Allison Moorer describes the role music plays in the son of her autisitc son John Henry.  

What he once couldn’t process at all now gets him through rough spots. If he becomes frustrated or upset, I turn to music to soothe him. These days, it’s one of the only things that can make him stop crying. If I want him to pay attention to me, I sing to him. We play records in the house and practice silly dances. What I know now that I didn’t know on that August 2011 afternoon is that because his antenna is set so high, he can feel music deeply. It moves him. And it does connect him to the world outside of his mind, though I don’t understand exactly how yet. I often find myself wondering what it is that he hears as he turns his head toward a tree when the wind rustles its leaves, or when he notices a formation of birds flying overhead, and he smiles. I suspect he hears music all around him because he stops what he’s doing and he listens. My son has taught me countless lessons, but the biggest one may be that there is music in everything.

How much better is silence; the coffee cup, the table. How much better to sit by myself like the solitary sea-bird that opens its wings on the stake. Let me sit here for ever with bare things, this coffee cup, this knife, this fork, things in themselves, myself being myself.

Virginia Woolf, The Waves 

But silence is by no means a sign of acquiescence. It often happens that we are silent because we realize the uselessness of speech.

Lev Shestov, Athens and Jerusalem