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it isn't raining rain, you know - it's raining violets

well well well. happy easter, all. the empty tomb! time for jubilation, &c. let's save the terror for pentecost. 

it's been almost ten months or so since my last post, and i'm feeling a bit...chatty. 

 

yesterday i ended a five day vow of silence. 120 hours - pow pow.

no talking, no text messaging, no e-mailing, no... facebooking. 

i had such a nice time. it was good not to be in the world in that way. 

i listened to a lot of harry connick jr. a LOT.  i'm no longer just a hopeless romantic, i am Romance Itself. also listened to: some debussy, some shostakovich, one song by pixie lott, one song by tracy chapman. (in each case, the same song repeatedly).

 

i took the vow because lately it's become important to really consider meaning of my words and become more concise.

 

expected consequences of the silence:

 

 - the less i spoke, the more i took in. i read, and read, and read - a medieval tract on courtly love, psalms, the first draft of a friend's novel, two volumes of a journal of fairytale studies - and my ability to concentrate was much improved, i clung to the words i read and felt spoken to.

- thinking became clearer and more solid.

 

unexpected consequences of the silence:

 

 - my sleep was affected. i slept very well. peacefully.

- on days three and four i spent quite some time washing my hands and singing without words - somehow this behaviour seemed related to an awareness of the upcoming day five, and a desire to prolong the vow of silence by a few days/weeks. i decided, however, that there was a borderline pathological aspect to this desire and that i should probably ignore it. ha ha.

 - on day four i put on a strapless green silk gown and a petticoat - i have mentioned this petticoat before, in another blog post, it can stand up on its own and never ceases to impress me - and passed an afternoon on the floor, reading, with my skirt spread all around me. silence breeds extravagance...

 

something that is neither here nor there:

 

on the second evening i read a newspaper article about the discovery of a young woman's body in an italian cathedral. this sixteen year old had been murdered, and had lain undiscovered for seventeen years - 'seventeen years of hell,' as one of the woman's family members put it. the article linked this young woman's death to the murder of a woman in england, whose breasts had been cut off (i read a religious significance into this; a mockery of st agatha's motif, just as religious as the murder in the cathedral made a mockery of the status of such places as hallowed). the woman's murderer had also placed a lock of someone else's hair in her hand. the article contended that the same murderer had struck twice. this was an extremely terrifying thing to read; the connections being drawn were unbearable. for the past three years or so i have been transfixed by news stories about violence against women; it happens with unspeakable frequency and i wonder if the frequency is what seems to be normalizing it in the public eye. i know i'm not the only one who notices the incidents reported every day - listening to the radio, watching the news on television, the most casual and cursory glance at a newspaper. and the pressure to run out onto the street screaming 'STOP KILLING US'  builds up with each new report. i read this particular article on my computer screen and went completely stiff, just too afraid to move, couldn't even switch a light on. a couple of incredibly shaky hours passed. the article had profiled the suspected murderer, a man who would surreptitiously cut off locks of women's hair as they sat on public transport, a man who, the police alleged, had gone on to murder two women and possibly more, essentially the article was discussing a mind arranged on a framework entirely outside of rationality. 

so of course i became absolutely certain that in the next few minutes i would be murdered. but i couldn't (wouldn't) communicate this to anyone. after reaching a silent state of utmost terror what happened was this: i found i didn't actually have the internal resources to maintain it. i just couldn't. and... i fell asleep -  

 

i'd love to read any thoughts on vows of silence, or any experiences with them - i wonder if anyone else has found the discipline useful. i've also wondered whether the difference between nice time and nightmare might depend on how long the vow of silence lasts, and where you are when you enter into it. 

 

Comments
6 Comment count
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I never took a vow of

I never took a vow of silence because people ignore me anyway. :)

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hmmm

did...someone...just say something...?

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Tracey Chapman

Helen,

I think Joan Armatrading got the shrift, because of Tracy Chapman. I also like the woman who sang on the Q & A soundtrack - the name of the movie escapes me, but I do like her, too.

Ruth :)

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the shrift?

hello, Ruth! what's the shrift? i thought it might be something to do with confession, but it doesn't seem to be...

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Shrift = short end of the stick

Hi Helen,

She was shortchanged. Joan is awesome. I like Tracy,too, but Joan makes you cry when you listen to her music.

Ruth

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aha!

just listened to a few j armatrading songs - quite a bit different from tracy, i think...