Letters and Love

The power and promise of silence


Tijn Touber | April 2005 issue

What is it about words that we need so many of them to make things clear to each other? And even then, there is still so much room for misunderstanding? One of the problems is in the medium of language itself. In his book The Alphabet Versus the Goddess: The Conflict between Word and Image (Viking, 1998) Leonard Shlain explains how the invention of the alphabet led to a major cultural shift towards the left side of the brain, which resulted in the decline of what he calls more feminine values.

The medium through which we get to know the world appears to have a major impact on the development of our brains, largely determining how neural paths within the brain are constructed. These are the paths which determine how we process information. Back in the 1960s, Canadian scholar Marshall McLuhan established that the form of communication we use has more influence over us than the content when he famously declared: “The medium is the message.”

Shlain drew his conclusion about the alphabet after asking himself why goddesses had suddenly disappeared from the temples several thousand years ago. Before the invention of letters, we primarily worshipped women and feminine values as witnessed by the images found in temples. With the written word came reverence for a monotheistic God, male values and the patriarchal paradigm.

Judaism was the first religion based on written texts. The Old Testament preached monotheism and unshakeable godly laws. Goddesses and their images were rejected. While the religions of the word went hand in hand with progress and civilization, many suffered: wives, daughters, fortune-tellers, queens, artists, slaves, priestesses. And for the first time in history, religion became a reason to wage war.

When Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press in 1454, it appeared to herald an era of enlightenment. But with the advance of moveable type, terrible religious wars broke out across Europe. After the Protestant Reformation, a period of violent religious persecution followed; a reign of terror that would last 150 years. And although the words of Christ were full of feminine values, the violence continued and still continues. Once again it is clear that it is not the message that matters, but the medium with which it is conveyed.

Therefore, if you want to solve a conflict or problem or if you long for harmony, respect and love (feminine values): relinquish your reliance on words. Stop talking and embrace the silence. Discover that beyond the words is a space where there are no conflicts at all because nothing has a name that can ignite a difference of opinion. From that place of silence you can slowly start to talk to each other again. But only under the motto: if you cannot hear my silence, you will never hear my words.

Solution News Source

Letters and Love

The power and promise of silence


Tijn Touber | April 2005 issue

What is it about words that we need so many of them to make things clear to each other? And even then, there is still so much room for misunderstanding? One of the problems is in the medium of language itself. In his book The Alphabet Versus the Goddess: The Conflict between Word and Image (Viking, 1998) Leonard Shlain explains how the invention of the alphabet led to a major cultural shift towards the left side of the brain, which resulted in the decline of what he calls more feminine values.

The medium through which we get to know the world appears to have a major impact on the development of our brains, largely determining how neural paths within the brain are constructed. These are the paths which determine how we process information. Back in the 1960s, Canadian scholar Marshall McLuhan established that the form of communication we use has more influence over us than the content when he famously declared: “The medium is the message.”

Shlain drew his conclusion about the alphabet after asking himself why goddesses had suddenly disappeared from the temples several thousand years ago. Before the invention of letters, we primarily worshipped women and feminine values as witnessed by the images found in temples. With the written word came reverence for a monotheistic God, male values and the patriarchal paradigm.

Judaism was the first religion based on written texts. The Old Testament preached monotheism and unshakeable godly laws. Goddesses and their images were rejected. While the religions of the word went hand in hand with progress and civilization, many suffered: wives, daughters, fortune-tellers, queens, artists, slaves, priestesses. And for the first time in history, religion became a reason to wage war.

When Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press in 1454, it appeared to herald an era of enlightenment. But with the advance of moveable type, terrible religious wars broke out across Europe. After the Protestant Reformation, a period of violent religious persecution followed; a reign of terror that would last 150 years. And although the words of Christ were full of feminine values, the violence continued and still continues. Once again it is clear that it is not the message that matters, but the medium with which it is conveyed.

Therefore, if you want to solve a conflict or problem or if you long for harmony, respect and love (feminine values): relinquish your reliance on words. Stop talking and embrace the silence. Discover that beyond the words is a space where there are no conflicts at all because nothing has a name that can ignite a difference of opinion. From that place of silence you can slowly start to talk to each other again. But only under the motto: if you cannot hear my silence, you will never hear my words.

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