People love to talk. We never stop talking, really – our culture avoids silence the way other culture avoid disease, we try and make spaces for it – churches, libraries – but this is really just to quarantine it off from the rest of the world where we safeguard against it with Muzak and talk radio and news and ads and television, now with smartphones, we can’t go a moment in modern life without either talking or being talked to. But what’s the end result of all the yammering?
Well, we have a president whose inability to shut up is practically the reason he got elected. We have a news cycle that never stops, a “Hollywood elite” that profits endlessly on hot takes, and a million tweets every time even the slightest celebrity gossip gets public attention.
We are drowning in words, but we are completely starved for meaning. We have a surplus of people who are willing to share their opinions, and a shortage of people who have even the slightest idea how to listen to anyone else’s.
Foucault said that the implementation of sexual controls in society depends on us engaging in a kind of double think where the things that are “secret” and “taboo” actually take center stage in our lives – we talk about sex, Foucault says, constantly. How else would we know what we’re meant to be doing, or not doing? By making sex a secret, we make it much more interesting than it actually is, and so we never stop talking about it.
But what if our inability to stop talking about things – politics, sex, or even the weather – what if all that does is keep us stuck outside of ourselves for the majority of our lives? What great thinker ever wrote their master work at a cocktail party, or on Skype? We use each other as the means by which we form our life’s narrative, and we do so shamelessly because this is what we’re taught to do. But ultimately, my “identity” isn’t changed by the way I understand myself. I remain the person I am regardless of the story I have in my head about who that person is.
Everyone keeps talking because we’re all still looking for someone to make us feel heard. But what if the problem is that it really doesn’t matter whether other people understand us, but whether we understand ourselves? What if we only think that we want to be heard by someone else, but what we really want is just some fucking peace and quiet in which to listen to ourselves?
I don’t know. Maybe I’m just rambling as a person who needs a substantially larger amount of silence in my life than most. But I do… worry about that. I worry about my intentions when I speak, about holding people hostage, or… I don’t know, maybe these days I worry more that I sometimes just want to stop talking entirely, because I just don’t see the point in rehashing things that I can’t change. I’d rather turn off the fucking Muzak and make up a fairy tale, at least then you have a chance at saying something new.
Maybe I’m just cranky. But fuck it, no one reads this anyway. And it’s just more pointless talking into the void, in any case… I guess I’ve never been great at avoiding pragmatic contradictions.
Anyway. End of dumb, pointless blog post #782 or whatever.