Silent dark : the orders of silence

van Elferen, Isabella and Raeymaekers, Sven (2015) Silent dark : the orders of silence. Journal for Cultural Research, 19(3), pp. 262-273. ISSN (print) 1479-7585


The simple question ‘What is silence?’ does not yield simple answers. Quiet and transcendence, darkness and death are connotations of an acoustical phenomenon that is very rare – if not impossible – in actual life; and if absolute silence would even be thinkable, where and how would it be? Analysing an interdisciplinary range of silent cultural practices and artistic expressions of silence, this article proposes five types of silence: a metaphorical form of silence; two different phenomenological forms of silence; a metaphysical form of silence; and an ontological form of silence. These different forms of silence and their interrelations can be meaningfully represented through a sonological interpretation of Lacan’s psychoanalytical orders of the Symbolic, the Imaginary, and the Real.

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