___________________________: SILENCE, THE AFFECT PHRASE, THE WAIT.

Josh Schwebel

Abstract


The relation between experience, language and reality is not immediate or equivalent. While often conflated to demand a commensurate exchange, language is an unstable medium that can be full or empty of ‘truth’. When people have differing accounts of what may seem to be the same reality, the variability of language becomes more apparent. An event may take place before a group of witnesses and each retelling may be different. Indeed, depending on its nature, an event may have caused a trauma to the extent that the experience may never achieve adequate representation in language. Each witness may struggle to recall an experience that exceeds the capacity of conscious perception. The only testimony of such an experience may be silence or inarticulate sound that communicates more than meaning and less than sense. Does this entail that nothing happened? An absence of speech could mean that there is nothing to say or that nothing can be said – silence is indistinguishably non-language and an allusion to the limits of language. Jean-Francois Lyotard’s The Differend: Phrases in Dispute pursues the limits of language. Herein Lyotard asks, "How can you establish what is not without criticizing what is? The undetermined cannot be established" (Lyotard, 9). This paper will examine the potential of silence to depose the subject through Lyotard’s concepts of the differend, the affect-phrase, the event and reality.

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