Organized Silence

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The city is all steel and glass—dirty chrome and polished upholstery. The buildings become their own resonators, putting on loop the tones of suppressed voices, the click of muddy heels, and the sound of change rattling in styrofoam cups.

There’s a musicality to the city. It’s a concerto for taxicab and train car—an unending piece that phases in and out sync with the unending changing of the stoplights. But if you listen closely enough, there are always crumbs of quiet that fall between the dopplered sounds of drunken jingle bells and socially-obligated laughter.

Music isn’t organized sound. It’s organized silence. The rests make sense of the noise. It’s the white space that makes an image captivating. It’s distance that increases desire. It’s the breath in-between that gives the consonants their shape.

What is our conversation but a city of duplicated sounds? The silences are few and far between. They are empty voids greedily stuffed with percussive instrumentation because we fear they might grow too large.

But the process of searching for something to say is terrifying. The atmosphere gave us breath, and sometimes it demands a response. We owe it a response, something more than an exhale of the same stuff we sucked in and corrupted with our lungs. But strokes of gushing eloquence and strokes of fate that demand from us our language never align. Even after abandoning authenticity, there can be little left in our working vocabulary to spit into the void. We have to square up to that moment when we believe, however briefly, that we have absolutely nothing in the way of words to hurl across the gap. And we have to hold on to that moment of terror against every ounce of our will and with every ounce of our strength, because that silence might be the only honest thing we have to offer.

And that silence just might make sense of the senseless.