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31 January 2011

Evil and Silence (Richard Fleming)

...Humans seem to be nothing but a walking injustice -- a featherless biped who makes mistakes. To be of passion is to yield to injustice. This is the life of the body and why some have argued for the need to be free of material existence if we are to achieve our moral ends. Surely, we should never claim to be a just person. This has never been our aim or conclusion. We have said only that we should set about to be just -- and also that such an ambition involves suffering and unhappiness. But is this distinction so important? It is what we fight for and must preserve. We know (without much effort or reflection) our disorder, the evidence of certain instincts, the graceless abandon into which we can throw ourselves. But we also know better now (because of our struggling efforts and reflections) the limits of our talk and action. We know better our possibilities. Often when we thought we were moving forward we were losing ground. Someday, when a balance is established between what we are and what we say and do, perhaps then, and we scarcely dare write it, we shall be able to construct the work of which we dream. "Shrill sound never roused me from my slumbers." Musical creation and expression are efforts that exhibit the silent threaded order of word and world and allow the meaningful possibility of a life that can be called good. Music can quiet and sober desperate lives. One must imagine Cage happy.

Richard Fleming, from "Second Book: Ordinary Silence," in Evil and Silence (Paradigm Publishers, 2010)

Laura Kuhn