A Culture of Silence

friendshipChloe Taylor write that: [Foucault] speaks of a friendship which developed between himself and the filmmaker Daniel Schmidt:

[W]e discovered after a few minutes that we really had nothing to say to each other. So we stayed together from about three o’clock in the afternoon to midnight. We drank, we smoked hash, we had dinner. And I don’t think we spoke more than twenty minutes during those ten hours. From that moment a rather long friendship started. It was for me the first time that a friendship originated in strictly silent behavior.7

Such a friendship is surely unusual, even for Foucault, who notes that our society is remarkable in that silence has “unfortunately been dropped from our culture.” 8 Unlike Japanese, Greek, Roman, and Native North American societies, he remarks, “We don’t have a culture of silence.” Foucault goes on to say that he is “in favor of developing silence as a cultural ethos,” and that “Silence may be a much more interesting way of having a relationship with people” than the confessional exchanges which we currently engage in.9

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