Thursday, February 18, 2016


Why Do We Go on Talking?

Richard Le Gallienne (1866-1947), "A Conspiracy of Silence," Prose Fancies (New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1894), pp. 10-17 (at 10):
Why do we go on talking? It is a serious question, one on which the happiness of thousands depends. For there is no more wearing social demand than that of compulsory conversation. All day long we must either talk, or—dread alternative—listen. Now, that were very well if we had something to say, or our fellow-sufferer something to tell, or, best of all, if either of us possessed the gift of clothing the old commonplaces with charm. But men with that great gift are not to be met with in every railway-carriage, or at every dinner. The man we actually meet is one whose joke, though we have signalled it a mile off, we are powerless to stop, whose opinions come out with a whirr as of clockwork. Besides, it always happens in life that the man—or woman—with whom we would like to talk is at the next table. Those who really have something to say to each other so seldom have a chance of saying it.
Id. (at 17):
Happy monks of La Trappe! One has heard the foolish chattering world take pity upon you. An hour of talk to a year of silence! O heavenly proportion!
Or, if we must talk, let it be in Latin, or in the 'Volapük' of myriad-meaning music; and let no man joke save in Greek—that all may laugh. But, best of all, let us leave off talking altogether, and listen to the morning stars.

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