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On Silence
Why Silence Strikes the Primal Chord of Fear among the Loud

When real fighting men see a crowd of cops bellowing for submission—guns pointed—at a single unarmed man, they shake their head, reminded that the police are a bully squad.

Compare the antics of “drug warrior” police screaming and yelling at half-naked, half-awake unarmed suspects to the silent, deadly discipline of the military sniper.

Who would you rather have hunting you?

When real fighting men see two boxing champions engaged in a silent stare down they recline in awe at battle-worthy psyches on display.

Conversely, the shouting antics of professional wrastlers and weigh-in shenanigans of MMA hip hop life style celebrities dissolve into a sweaty soap opera on one hand and an inability to retain a world title on the other. These two examples are simple cases of the money-grubbing cultural appropriation of chimpanzee dominance displays.

Tiny militaries who have punched way above their weight to impose their national will on vast, cacophonous mobs of raging combat ineffectiveness include:

-The Spartans

-The Legions [Roman and French Estranger]

-Most Amerindian Warriors, most notably the Apache, who defeated invaders for 400 years

-The Waffen SS

-U.S. LRRP, SEAL, Marine Recon and Sniper units

In cases where war cries have broken enemy units, such as the Rebel Yell of the Confederate scare crow soldier [borrowed from Eastern Woodland Indians] it usually represents a culmination of long days and hours of silent maneuver which have worn on the nerves of the untrained and weak-minded enemy [the Union Infantry of the Civil War being among the worst in human history] brought into a contrast of alarm which only affects the morale of women, children and weak-minded men.

I have been interested in the moral mechanics of silence as a lethality cue since I came to Baltimore as an 18 year old, and when preparing to defend myself against the numerous threats by street thugs, road ragers [some of whom tried running me over while I was on the side walk and running down alleys] and work place bullies, I discovered, as I retreated into my silent boxing place, the place where I had learned how to defend myself, that the mere act of me going silent [usually in resignation that I was about to get stomped out by an overwhelming group] that my very silence, more often than not, broke the spirit of my attackers. I found through experience, observation and interviews with criminals and cops, that the simple silence of boxing, which teaches to keep your mouth shut for the practical reason that an open mouth begs for a broken jaw, was mistaken for the coldness of the killer, the hitter, the trigger-puller, the enforcer—the collector of extra-monetary debts. The fact is, that among highly criminalized populations, three rules prevail:

-People are loud, mostly as a function of the boys being denied father figures and hence aping their shrill mothers in times of stress

-Loud people, like women, children and cops, are not formidable one-on-one combatants, but are only effective as bully squads and mobs and utterly melt in the face of cohesive, lethal pressure, such as military operators, SWAT teams narco assassins and death squads

-The man who comes silently alone to seek you out among heavily criminalized populations comes with the finality of death, the mythic killer, who in Baltimore at least, was generally referred to as “that dude.”

This said, with my examination of anthropological sources in search for the roots of horror in fiction—which is my stock in trade as a speculative story teller—I believe that this “silent = lethal” instinct which is well-developed among poor and criminalized populations, and lies dormant among the soft corpulent paleface masses dreaming beneath the electronic lotus petals and imbibing the nectar of Morpheus with unslaking thirst, is based on something deeper.

This depth, I suspect—and posited in Writing Unchained and When You’re Food Raw in the exit interview with the editor—is related to the fact that the non-human predator which has most successfully harvested our shivering souls has been the leopard. It is this creature, nocturnal, silent, fanged, possessed of instant neck-breaking power which the figure of the mythic vampire most clearly taps into for its fear-laced appeal. Where the lion and the tiger in Africa and Indian have been eradicated, leopards have persisted as man eaters. If one lives by Genesis, the leopard’s haunts are the price for abiding the Serpent. If one lives by Darwin, than the leopard is clearly the natural predator of proto-human kind, with the fossil record stilted towards an African birthplace for humanity largely on the basis of the leopard’s habit of dragging hominid bodies into sheltering caves to feast.

And there is more, deeper, broader and nearer our straw door. The fossil record is clear, around the world, that Man has spent the majority of his life as a hunter, and for the hunter silence is the first discipline, while for the woman and the child, helpless before their attackers, screaming, yelling and noisily setting off alarms are their only means of mass defense. Out of the hunter comes the warrior, and those best among that kind have fought largely in silence, if only, as in the case of the Spartans and Romans so that they could keep marching time to the pipers and hear the whistles and commands of their leaders.

Here, at the end of human time, on the transhuman threshold, the vast majority of us have been transformed through entertainment media as diverse as TV football and music concerts and MMA worship into a screaming, feminized mob among whom the greatest virtue is to be counted the loudest. Yet in our collective, atrophied heart, we know that the sound of death is silence, and we shiver in modernity’s gaudily-lit dark, loudly apart.

Writing Unchained

Prolific Writing by Design

Add Comment
ShepJanuary 24, 2019 6:45 PM UTC

Kinda like how the Covington Catholic kid standing his ground and smiling has completely discombobulated the shitlibs. Psychologically weak people can't handle stoic silence and a lack of fidgeting.
BobJanuary 21, 2019 11:59 PM UTC

I don't have any scientific studies at my fingertips to substantiate the claim, but it seems reasonable to assume that if you're talking, that's where the focus is - on words.
BobJanuary 21, 2019 11:37 PM UTC

On silence:

“It’s a very aggressive technique”

That logic is likely to translate to the street.