Temporarily muting yourself
by phil on Saturday Sep 2, 2006 5:49 PM
I've had many periods in my life where I've become markedly silent. The one that sticks out in my mind the most was when I determined myself to rid myself of logical fallacies. Logical fallacies are frequent human failings of logic, such as the tendency to see correlation as causation—I kept a rabbit's foot in my pocket during Sunday's winning game, therefore the rabbit's foot caused me to win. I discovered various lists, such as this one that's 42 points long, and spent a month monitoring my speech for logical fallacies.
After I was through with the exercise, I developed, at least for a couple months, a speaker's block. People even asked me questions, such as "why are you so quiet?", and I'd have to keep my lips sealed to make sure I didn't respond fallaciously.
I was reminded of this process when I stumbled upon the term aposiopesis, a poetic device whereby the speaker or writer deliberately stops and leaves something unexpressed. The traditional example of aposiopesis is the threat of Neptune in Virgil's Aeneid 1.135: Quos ego—!. Aposiopesis is also used in hip-hop, such as in Eminem's "Hi My Name Is&mdash" or in Sisqo's expression, "She had thighs like what" (where what is a placeholder for the aposiopesis).
Aposiopesis blankets my life after periods of intense learning. For the past two months, for example, I've been researching the issue of "identity crisis," and I've been exploring the concept of being yourself. In the previous post How am I not myself?, I touched on the topic of being simultaneously natural and uncomfortable; just how does one resolve the infamous paradoxical imperative to "act naturally?" (A theater director teased some ideas out from the Stanislavsky method when I posed that question to Ask MetaFilter)
More importantly, I'm also concerned with how can one conduct self-improvement while still being themselves? And what to do in cases where being natural with some traits interferes with being natural in other traits? I often have the fear that my naturalness also justifies being lazy and taking the easy-route socially.
I feel like I'm on the tail-end of a deep period of researching and introspection, and so perhaps I'll be entering a renewed period of&mdash