Looking into Silence
Hi guys! Yesterday as I celebrated Thanksgiving with my family we read William Bradford’s account of Plymouth Plantation. See my ancestor fell off the Mayflower and got back on so apparently that means we get to read about it every Thanksgiving before we eat. As I stared sadly at the rapidly cooling mashed potatoes, I thought about what is not included in the account of that trip and the first Thanksgiving…like where are the accounts of the women on the ship? What did the Native American’s think about that first Thanksgiving? Was my ancestor on deck during a storm because he was drunk or sick (the debate continues)?
This made me think of the current debate raging in my Literature Theory class…should there be a canon? Who decides that canon? What is left out of the canon? Sometimes what’s not included says just as much as what is included. We’ve also talked about this in my art history class as we consider what art is missing/not discussed. Was there simply no protest art before 1800 or was art controlled by patrons? Or, are we categorizing all art by only looking at Western art? Part of what I love about a liberal arts education is that it demands you ask critical questions about what you’re being taught. There can be a huge significance in silence: the void of minority authors in early literature canons, or perhaps the silence of art protesting corrupt authority before 1800, or perhaps characters an author chooses to leave out of a story, or even what is left off our TVs. What does that silence say about what we value? How does that silence help/hurt? Maybe simply just “why”?
I don’t have many answers…but perhaps it’s more important to ask the right questions about what we consume rather than to have the “right answers”. Also, we can learn from that silence in our own creative work. Who are we leaving out? What assumptions are we making? Do we purposefully leave silences there to be noticed? Like I said, I truly believe that silent spaces can be just as meaningful as the ones filled with letters or paint strokes.
To make up for just asking a bunch of questions and offering no answers, here are my favorite George Washington memes:
And of course one for anyone who still has a friendsgiving to celebrate!
Have a wonderful weekend, and come to Opus Soup next Thursday to get a copy of Opus and hear wonderful people share their work!!
Abby Klett (Co-Editor)
Leave a Reply