Silence is golden

"If humans, like the rest of the animals, could not speak, we would all live together in peace, devouring one another solely out of necessity and instinct, our positions in the food chain nicely balanced by need and numbers. If we were as speechless as my collies on the farm or the hens and sheep and the geese, if we barked or baa'd or clucked or if like the chimps we could only hoot and holler and otherwise had to depend on body language, we would not kill one another or any other animal solely for the pleasure of it. The power of speech is the speech of power. Vows of silence are pledges to peaceableness. Silence is indeed golden, and a golden age would be silent."

Hannah Musgrave, in Russell Banks, The Darling, pg.334

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4 Responses to Silence is golden

  1. nixsight says:

    But… but… didn't I once hear that chimps DO sometimes kill each other and other animals solely for the pleasure of it?
    I appreciate the sentiment, and I'm positive that there is a context that makes it make sense in Banks' narrative, but with silence comes a lack of communication, a lack of music, no language and therefore no written media, and despite their lack of language, their lack of music and literature, animals still kill and mutilate each other over pecking order, territory and in some cases out of simple meanness.
    Okay, maybe cows and sheep and domestic pets don't. But I don't think we should aspire to the life of a slaughterhouse bound cow…
    Beautiful prose, though…

  2. Dylan says:

    Yes, indeed – it's entirely untrue. I posted it merely because I think it's a beautiful notion – yearning for the absence of language, culture, human-ness. For peace through negation and silence. I'm currently enjoying reading fiction more than I have in many many years. Yay!

  3. Dylan says:

    I should have said it's beautiful and also very very sad.Especially in the context of the story…

  4. nixsight says:

    Gah… apparently Vox doesn't tell me when there is a reply in a blog that I've commented on…
    I certainly appreciated the sentiment. And I like that there are still some places on the web where one can have a tongue in cheek crazed reaction to something and it be taken for what it is!
    On the note of enjoying fiction more than in many years, I just finished a beautiful and funny fablistic (did I just make that word up?) novel called 3 To See The King, by uh… Magnus Mills. I can heartily recommend it, for its vague satire and well observed insights into human nature.

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