As Kate comes near the end of writing Silence: A Literary History, I find myself looking at 53 years of index card notes and mulling over a silence question of my own. There are a number of notes that I think are good, but might be better without their final sentences or paragraphs. These are cases where I present a situation and then spell out the moral explicitly. My older self now wonders, might it have been better if I had left that un-spelled out?
But it’s never a simple call. I dislike aphorisms that are slickly minimalist: it is my aim to be a philosopher, not a poet. Omitting all hints as to the point I am attempting to convey would be going too far.
Of course the poets must think about this issue all the time, and Robert Frost with his rural wisdoms was an interesting case. “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood…,” I like to imagine he mused, is a great start. Now then, should I really spell out “I took the road less traveled by, and that has made all the difference,” or is that too heavy-handed?
[14 October 2022]