Silences 12/31 #SOL

Gordon Hempton said that “Silence is the poetics of space.”

I love the images that this sentence evokes, a merging of the physical and linguistic, and this naming of the place where it exists. This silence is not inactive – it implies the actions of listening and observing underneath the subjective noun function. This silence is a form of communion.

In his essay, “Listening to the Patient”, which argues for literary study in medical school, Dr. John Stone writes that,

Physicians and writers draw on the same sources: the human encounter, people and their indelible stories. And the works of both depend on skillful use of the senses. As with Holmes, success rests with the powers of observation.

This text which began in an examination booklet for grade 12 students at the beginning of my career revisits me with new insights gained over time. This was created before social media, before Google Classroom and before online accessibility exploded in education. I’m reading this now and thinking about the need for silences, for listening, for observing in these new spaces of learning.

Today, I’m leaving some space for silences.

5 thoughts on “Silences 12/31 #SOL

  1. I like thinking about silence as “the poetics of space.” There’s a Ted talk on listening I used in my speech classes in which the speaker argues these “we’re losing our listening.” We have many distractions competing for our attention. But I often think about silences in literature as omissions, as gaps, as sinister constructions, which I think is an important idea in antiracist pedagogy.

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    1. That sounds like something I should search for – listening is changing and I’ve noticed that “listening” can take place in a digital space. Ohhh, and those “sinister constructions” with the silences of omission – absolutely and that is where this post started going before I ran out of time and emotional bandwidth to bring it together for day 12. Thanks, Glenda 🙂


  2. I love the idea of medical student sstudying literary topics and how they tap into the same arrangement of senses. Thank you for you insights. You are very perceptive and much of your post resonates with me as a former teacher of Haitian refugees. Thank you for sharing your perspective – very important and much needed.

    Liked by 1 person

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