Nothing

This is my camera preferring not to

This is not a post about writer’s block. I’ve voiced my absolute abhorrence of like-minded posts many a time. If you have nothing to say, just say it. Which brings us to the point. Equipped with true foresight, and no doubt foreshadowing my own growing muteness (yes, that was irony), our greatest writers have poignantly dealt with reticence. I bring you two extremely telling excerpts. Note how the reticent party is associated with truth, purity of heart and perhaps (more the latter) with a certain Messianism. Allow me to bombard you with silence rather than attempt to justify my own. Enjoy!

From Shakespeare, King Lear, Act I Scene I

KING LEAR
Now, our joy,
Although the last, not least; to whose young love
The vines of France and milk of Burgundy
Strive to be interess’d; what can you say to draw
A third more opulent than your sisters? Speak.

CORDELIA
Nothing, my lord.

KING LEAR
Nothing!

CORDELIA
Nothing.

KING LEAR
Nothing will come of nothing: speak again.

CORDELIA
Unhappy that I am, I cannot heave
My heart into my mouth: I love your majesty
According to my bond; nor more nor less.

KING LEAR
How, how, Cordelia! mend your speech a little,
Lest it may mar your fortunes.

CORDELIA
Good my lord,
You have begot me, bred me, loved me: I
Return those duties back as are right fit,
Obey you, love you, and most honour you.
Why have my sisters husbands, if they say
They love you all? Haply, when I shall wed,
That lord whose hand must take my plight shall carry
Half my love with him, half my care and duty:
Sure, I shall never marry like my sisters,
To love my father all.

KING LEAR
But goes thy heart with this?

CORDELIA
Ay, good my lord.

KING LEAR
So young, and so untender?

CORDELIA
So young, my lord, and true.

From Herman Melville, Bartleby.

“Bartleby,” said I, gently calling to him behind his screen.

No reply.

“Bartleby,” said I, in a still gentler tone, “come here; I am not going to ask you to do any thing you would prefer not to do–I simply wish to speak to you.”

Upon this he noiselessly slid into view.

“Will you tell me, Bartleby, where you were born?”

“I would prefer not to.”

“Will you tell me any thing about yourself?”

“I would prefer not to.”

“But what reasonable objection can you have to speak to me? I feel friendly towards you.”

He did not look at me while I spoke, but kept his glance fixed upon my bust of Cicero, which as I then sat, was directly behind me, some six inches above my head.

“What is your answer, Bartleby?” said I, after waiting a considerable time for a reply, during which his countenance remained immovable, only there was the faintest conceivable tremor of the white attenuated mouth.

“At present I prefer to give no answer,” he said, and retired into his hermitage.

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