Burroughs Month and Movie Millisecond: Respect silence


Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Michael Gondry, 2004.)

Silence is only frightening to people who are compulsively verbalizing.

(William S. Burroughs qtd. in Odier, Daniel. The Job: Interviews With William S. Burroughs. (Paris: Editions Pierre Belfond. 1969). Print.)

I really can’t stand it when people pester me about communication. It’s insecure and suggests that I’m some wild, changeable, untrustworthy person who the other party may turn to find is plotting some mutiny behind their back or necking with the bartender while their car is being stolen. I wish it could just be assumed that I am a solid human and that if I had anything new to report, I would. It’s so disrespectful to be unceasingly pressuring people to talk if they don’t feel like it or have requested time to think: the kind of person who fears silence, as Mr. Burroughs points out, is a self-involved control freak who is only waiting for their turn to start nattering on about their own problems again.

“What are you thinking? You’re so quiet.” Aren’t you thinking about me? I want to be talking. It tells me that the other person doesn’t give a shit about what I’m actually like, and I am just another in a long line of replaceable intimate nobodies to whom they confess everything, manipulate endlessly, and discard for someone more dramatic when they are bored of baring their soul to me. Like, screw that, you know? Thank god my friends get it and are like that themselves: we respect each other’s silences and alone times, and come together with love and boisterous support when the time is right, not when we demand it to be so. So much better. Why can’t we just marry our friends and family?

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3 Responses to “Burroughs Month and Movie Millisecond: Respect silence”

  1. Colin Caret Says:

    Fuckin’ A, E. I so very truly know exactly what you mean just at this moment in my life. It’s tricky walking that line between being supportive and being used by someone who conflates friendship with therapy.

  2. Betty Says:

    I’m no expert, but under the Myers-Briggs personality classification system this is a classic “I” (introvert) vs “E” (extrovert) situation. If you’re not familiar with Myers-Briggs, it’s worth reading up on – it helps give a framework to understand why those crazy Es are the way they are.

    I am very much an “I” under M-B. I hate it when people talk just to fill up space, and particularly when I’m upset and people (who I don’t know well) try to get me to talk – either about the problem or about something else to distract me – when I find talking itself demanding and an imposition on me.

    Not surprisingly, most of my friends are “I” too. However, there are plenty of Es around – apparently about half of the US population – and so at work, social events etc I often have to deal with their bizarre and annoying behaviour🙂 It helps me to remember that as far as they’re concerned, they are helping – they are doing what they would want someone to do for them if they were have a conversation, were upset, etc.

    “If I had anything new to report, I would.” – totally agree! 🙂

    Hmm do I sound too preachy? sorry…

  3. edo Says:

    Your blog is surely interesting, specially these movie millisecond thing, awesome, congratulations. (I hope I’m communicationg here, not needlessly talking wihtout actually saying anything, which I’m an expert at)

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