from out of silence, speech

9.22.2019, 2:29 pm

There comes a time in everyone's life when they get tired of arguing with people and just want to speak the truth.

"Lines from Max Picard"


Speech came out of silence, out of the fullness of silence.
The fullness of silence would have exploded
if it had not been able to flow out into speech.   

The speech that comes out of silence is justified by the silence that precedes it.
Whenever a man begins to speak, the word comes from silence at each new beginning.

Not until one man speaks to another, does he learn that speech no longer belongs to silence but to man.
When two people are conversing with one another, however, a third is always present: Silence is listening.
That is what gives breadth to a conversation:
  when the words are not moving merely within the narrow space occupied by the two speakers,
but come from afar, from the place where silence is listening.
That gives the word a new fullness.

But not only that: the words are spoken as it were from the silence,
from that third person,
and the listener receives more than the speaker alone is able to give.

At the beginning of creation, we are told, God Himself spoke with man.
It was as though man still did not really dare to speak the word,
did not yet dare to possess the word;
as though God, by speaking with man, wanted to get man into the habit of using words.

The  word arises from the realm of silence.


Silence reveals itself in a thousand forms:
in the quiet of dawn,
in the noiseless aspiration of trees towards the sky,
in the stealthy descent of night,
in the silent changing of the seasons,
in the falling moonlight,
trickling down into the night like a rain of silence,

but above all in the silence of the inward soul.
These forms of silence are nameless:
all the clearer and surer is the word that arises out of the nameless silence.

Silence is a world within itself,
and from this world of silence speech learns to form a world:
Real speech is but the resonance of silence.


The sound of music is not, like the sound of words, opposed, but rather parallel to silence.
It is as though the sound of music were being driven over the surface of silence.
Music is silence, which in dreaming begins to sound.
Silence is never more audible than when the last sound of music has died away.

Music is far-ranging, and could occupy the whole of space.
This does not in fact happen,
for music occupies space slowly,
returning to its source
that it might seem that the sounds of music never moved away at all,
that music were everywhere and yet always in a defined, limited place.

In music distance and nearness are conjoined.
For however far the soul may range in music it is everywhere protected and brought home safely again.
That is also why music has such a calming effect on nervous people:
it brings a wideness to the soul in which the soul can be without fear.


Language is a world, not a mere appendage to another world.
It has a fullness that goes out beyond the limits of the expedient:
there is more in language than would be necessary for mere understanding and information.

It is true that language belongs to man, but it also belongs to itself.
There is more pain and joy and sadness in it than man can get out of it for himself.
It is as though, independently of man,
  language keeps back enough pain, sadness, joy, and jubilation for itself.

Language sometimes creates poetry of its own accord and as it were all for itself.


Silence can exist without speech, but speech cannot exist without silence.
The word would be without depth if the background of silence were missing.
Nevertheless silence is not more than speech;
on the contrary, silence on its own,
the world of silence without speech, is the world before creation,
     the world of unfinished creation, a world of menace and danger to man.

It is through speech that man first becomes man.
Silence is fulfilled only when speech comes forth from silence.
Through speech silence, that wild, prehuman monster,
is transformed into something tame and human.


The outward face of speech is this:
it is like solid blocks of lava erupted from the surface of silence,
lying scattered about and connected one with another by the surface of silence.

And as the mass of the sea is greater than the mass of the land,
  so that of silence is greater than that of speech.
But just as the mainland has more being than the sea,
  so speech is more powerful than silence;
it has a greater intensity of being.


In the human mind silence is merely knowledge of the Deus absconditus, the hidden god.
In the human spirit silence is merely the silent harmony with things and the audible harmony of music.
In the human body silence is the fount of beauty.
But as beauty is more than the physical body,
  and music more than the inaudible ground of the spirit,
  and the revealed God more than the Deus absconditus,
so speech is more than silence.

(paraphrased from