On silence-speech

On silence-speech

Mr. Palomar’s guidelines for keeping quiet, or rather saying his mind, in public:

In a time and in a country where everyone goes out of his way to announce opinions or hand down judgments, Mr. Palomar has made a habit of biting his tongue three times before assuring anything. After the third bite, if he is still convinced of what he was going to say, he says it. If not, he keeps his mouth shut. In fact, he spends whole weeks, months in silence.


‘Silence can also be considered a kind of speech, since it is a rejection of the use to which others put words; but the meaning of this silence-speech lies in its interruptions in what is, from time to time, actually said, giving a meaning to what is unsaid. Or rather: a silence can serve to dismiss certain words or hold them in reserve for use on a better occasion. Just as a word spoken now can save a hundred words tomorrow or else can necessitate the saying of another thousand. “Every time I bite my tongue,” Mr. Palomar concludes mentally, “I must think not only of what I am about to say or not say, but also of everything that, whether I say it or do not say it, will be said or not said by others.” Having formulated this thought, he bites his tongue and remains silent.’
—Italo Calvino, “On biting the tongue,” Mr. Palomar In Society

On the second time at the moment.

(thx, Erica)