When you were asking me, “What’re you doing?” I said, “Nothing.” This single word, ”nothing” , a supposed minimal “free” (Where lies the essential freedom of word? ) form, is not free at all—“nothing” ’s freedom was pervaded by “other” non-signs, nothingness, the unspoken or something unspeakable, the non-discursive sonority or unintended sounds (as in John Cage’s musical compositions or in Rauschenberg and Robert Ryman’s Minimalist paintings with almost white surfaces.)
There may be a strategic taxonomy of silenceme: cognitive silenceme, transcendental silenceme (as in case of seeking absolute silence and that is impossible!); Pathological silenceme (as in case of Foreclosure or Psychosis, the symbolic order is totally or partially rejected [instead of being repressed]; one’s Language Acquisition Device is not working due to the outside threat and violence); Creative silenceme ( as practiced by some Buddhists by non-internalizing the outside threat and violence.);Silenceme of conspiracy (the phrase “conspiracy of silence” was often used by Marx and Engels) etc. Thus, spoke Sartre: being silent does not entail that I am refusing to speak but it is a mode of keeping on speaking .
What will we, the linguist community, do with such so-called ambiguous category? In Linguistics, what will be our agenda now? May we take Wittgenstein or John Cage seriously? Alternatively, we may ignore the silent marginal “other” space in Linguistics: the silenceme!
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. Silenceme is not absence of speaking, but it is a subjective “perception” of absence of speaking in relation to non-speaking.
Now I am trying to understand the pragmatics of silence by deploying an Indian philosophical tool called abhava or absence. In the Nyaya-Vaiseska (henceforth NV, Indian Logic) tradition, categories are distinguished based on their presence (bhava) and absence(abhava). They considered both the existence and non-existence as categories, which are subject to the knowledge or cognition by means of generic perception.
In case of relational absence, a qualifier qualifies a qualificand and by negating it we get an “absence of that qualifier” (which is another qualifier) qualifying the same qualificand, “this silent-space X is qualified by speaking-absence Y”. On the other hand, difference referred to “this is not silence” type of negation. Thus, absence of non-speaking-ness and difference from a silence are two distinguishable sub-categories of abhava.
These blank spaces may be perceived /cognized as a category called “absence” (absence is always designated in relation to something). 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, however, when, speaking/listening subject is perceiving something as “silence” is actually cognizing “absence” of stipulated non-silence in a locus. Thus, in the terminologies of NV, the speaking/listening subject perceives the “absence” of counterpositive (stipulated non-silence) in the locus of supposed/stipulated silence.
Pl. see ppt. at http://www.authorstream.com/Presentation/debaprasadbandyo-1934452-pragmatics-silenceme/