‘When Silence Would Swallow Non-Silence': Linguistics of silence

Debaprasad Bandyopadhyay 


Indian Statistical Institute

January 26, 2005

2005. “jedin niSSObdo SObdore khabe’ ”: noYSObder BhaSatOtto” (“When silence would swallow non-silence”: Linguistics of Silence) Ebang Mushayera. XI:4(226-47) RNI.53193/94 

Abstract:      
By quoting a part of song of Lalan Fakir, (“When silence would swallow non-silence…”), the author enters into a particular discourse of Jean Paul Sartre with a goal to understand linguistics of silenceme (author mentioned it as Silence Studies). The author mainly analyzes the first chapter of Sartre’s book, “What is Literature?” (1948), where a type of meta-verse was assumed by breaking the signifying chain (as presumed in linguistics as signifier-signified relationship) and which was, latter on, in Barthes’ misspelling, termed as signifianc’ — play of signifiers without any designated signified. Sartre was searching for living signified — in his meta-verse or meta-paintings, nothing was signifiers — rather every “representation represents itself”. In this context, Sartre commented on silence: “Silence itself is defined in relationship to words, as the pause in music receives its meaning from the group of notes round it. The silence is a moment of language; being silent is not being dumb; it is refuse to speak, and therefore keep on speaking.” The act of speaking (non-silence) is constrained, appropriated, approximated by the unspeakable/ unspoken spaces — so-called blank spaces are controlling the revealed speech. These blank spaces are emitting different meanings in different situations and non-signs were endowed with the supposed sign-ness. That is the de-sign of “silenceme” as it is de-sign-ated within the sign-ness. 

The author of this paper also compared Sartre’s agenda with the stands of early “mystical” Wittgenstein. According to him, the correct method of philosophy would be, “to say nothing, except what can be said.” This leads to an area of differentiation: difference between unspoken and unspeakable. 

These blank spaces may be perceived /cognized as a category called “absence” (“abhava” — In the Nyaya-Vaiseska tradition in Indian Philosophy, categories are distinguished on the basis of their presence and absence, which is subject to the knowledge or cognition by means generic perception). One could perceive absence by assigning the absential qualifier/counterpositive to the locus of empty locus/referend, qualificand. Thus, the absence of speaking means perceiving the dyadic relations between two constructs: speaking and non-speaking in a certain locus. There is no absolute non-speaking silent zone — all silent zones are pervaded by the non-silence and vise versa. Silenceme and non-silenceme are not antonymous, but it is matter of privilege on the part of listening/speaking subject, who is providing hierarchy of silenceme/non-silenceme by choosing different pockets of noise (unintended sounds/non-discursive sonority), music, speaking, non-speaking etc.

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About Debaprasad Bandyopadhyay

Debaprasad Bandyopdhyay (b. 1965), through his 24 years journey in the realm of institutionalized academics did 27 different types of works, which are someway different from the earlier paradigms or, one might say that those works are not only mere reproductions of his inherited institutionalized cultural capital or a mimicry of a colonially imposed model that leads to intellectual anorexia or rather a type falsification of earlier paradigms. However, that might be not only a lofty claim but it also hid the fact that all our information and knowledge are socially accumulated knowledge that was, it is matter of regret, posed as private property through the sign © and the wisdom is rarely available. Bandyopadhyay’s works and projects are the products of his social milieu. Bandyopadhyay is a local sub-altern public sphere academician, who avoids the technical intelligentsia (followers of Sahib’s models and they are not committed to the persons who are accommodating surplus work-time to them by performing surplus labour) or inorganic intellectuals and thus fails to be a part of academic tribe and its subsequent socialization process. Of course, that socialization process does not lead to legendary Socratic dialogue. He is also a political activist though he has not affiliated to any political parties as he was always talking about the corporatization of political parties within the money-sign-based democratic system. He is a regular participant in TV and radio talk-shows and documentary films, street-corners’ talks and International seminars on socio-political, psychological, linguistic, environmental and economic issues. He also writes editorial columns in newspapers. He is also a part of parallel academics as it is found in West Bengal’s Little Magazine Movement, though that was not counted as the part his academic pursuit by his parent institute. His parent institute justifiably does not believe in the domain of parallel academics as this unorganized sector does not directly contribute in the transactions of formal/organized print capitalist eco-enemy paper-publication. Though the dissemination of knowledge is also observed in this space of these parallel academics as all these writings in public sphere simultaneously influence the classroom-discourse and some of them are translated into English, French and Italian. Not only that, Bandyopadhyay also sought engagement with the people, who, by supplying their surplus labour, are sustaining his livelihood. Bandyopadhyay, a linguist by training and a Ph.D.-holder (1996), a junior lecturer (1999-2011) in an autonomous central government institute in India, tries his best for those from he has received and is receiving the manifestation of surplus labour by executing some self-funded projects on economic issues in West Bengal, India. Recently he has got a consolation promotion to the post of Assistant Professor. He has done following 27 research works: 1. Crippled Creativity: An inquiry into language, psyche, society: 2. VALENCY OF BANGLA VERB AND PROBLEM OF COMPOUND VERBS: 3. Archaeology of Bangla Grammar : 4. CAN COMPUTER SPEAK? 5. FUZZY LOGICAL EXPRESSION IN BANGLA : 6. FOLKLORE AND FOLK-LANGUAGE: MYTH OR REALITY? 7. HISTORICISM IN THE DISCOURSE OF BANGLA LANGUAGE AND LITERATURE 8. ABHABA, ECP, DELETION AND TRACE 9. SVATVA OR MY-NESS AND ECONOMIC ENTITLEMEMT 10. TRANSLATION STUDIES 11. MASCULINITY STUDIES 12. YAYATI & BABAR COMPLEX 13. SOCIO-ECONOMIC SURVEYS IN AGRICULTURE AND INDUSTRY IN WEST BENGAL 14. CONCEPT OF BODY IN INDIAN PHILOSOPHY AND ARCHITECTURE 15. THE CONCEPT OF ERROR (KHYATI) IN MAD-(WO)MEN’S LANGUAGE 16. THE CONCEPT OF PERCEPTUAL TIME AND GRAMMATICAL TIME IN BANGLA 17. BANGLA CALLIGRAPHY, LANGUAGE ART AND LINGUISTIC PEDAGOGY 18. WO(L)D SPACES: NON-EXISTENCE OF WORDS 19. ANEKANTA METHODS 20. SILENCEME: SILENT OTHER IN LINGUISTICS 21. IMAGINED BOUDARIES AND PRE-COLONIAL INDIAN IMAGI-NATION 22. MAKING OF THE INDIAN PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE 23. SEGMENTING THE SUPRASEGMENTALS : MUSICKING IN SPEAKING 24. INTERPRETING GENETIC STRUCTURE BY DEPLOYING LINGUISTIC STRUCTURE 25. GLOTTOPOLITICS OF LINGUISTIC SUBALTERNITY OR AN AGENDA FOR PLANNING FROM BELOW 26. SEMIOTICS OF PHOTOGRAPHY 27. SOCIOLOGY OF CONTEMPORARY ACADEMICS
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