Hunger for Wordlessness

The Ten Oxherding Pictures, No. 1. Shūbun, after Kakuan

Lyric thought is a direct response to the fact that the particular capacity for language-use possessed by our species cuts us off from the world in a way, or to a degree, that is painful.

We experience the burden of our capacity for language as loss – though we rarely recognise that this is the burden, that what we have lost is silence.

Lyric art is the fullest expression of the hunger for wordlessness

Jan Zwicky, Lyric Philosophy

8 thoughts on “Hunger for Wordlessness

  1. That’s very interesting Anthony, and I wonder if it might tie in with the fact that after a day of interacting with a lot of people at work, I tend to want silence and avoid the spoken word – whereas I am still happy to engage with the written word – perhaps because I control that interaction…


    • My introverted tendencies predominate, like you I guess Karen, so I become over stimulated by external sensation, and I associate turning inward, through the written word (or sitting staring at the woods, cooking, or cutting wood etc.) with recovery. Zwicky might also argue that through reading we can experience a temporary loss of self that is an “experience of the unmediated resonance of being”. Those with more extroverted tendencies find that loss of self through external stimuli.

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  2. I always come out as an extrovert in MBTI type tests (possibly because of my job as a speaker/trainer), but I need longer and longer to recover between bouts of verbosity. On a snowy day, there is a stillness and quiet that you can almost hear…


    • Thanks for thinking of me, Jill. It’s a fascinating interview. This is beautifully expressed: “I read to make sense of the world, to refract the world through layers and layers of reading experience as much as through lived experience.”

      Yes, my time on Twitter is over. Through Twitter, I’ve made some wonderful friends who I’ve been fortunate to meet on four continents. I have no regrets of my seven years on the platform, but I’ve always found it hard to balance its distracting qualities. So, for now I’m prioritising my time for reading, thinking and music.


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