Deconstructing Silence

As the day of our appointment with the ballot is fast dawning on us, the enlightened voter in us has the imperative to read the silence of the candidates and the political parties. What the candidates and their parties are not saying in their political discourse does speak loudly. This means we have to decode the way silence is represented without getting distracted by the noise of electoral campaigning. The way silence is represented is a signifying practice. We have this all-important task of paying heed to the way silence signifies and is craftily made us by the political vested interest to become enlightened voters. Silence is certainly voiced by the candidates and their political parties to hide something. It is our challenge to listen to these voices of silence speaking in the background of the visible and audible pompous networks of communication that are effectively employed by the political parties and their candidates. The silence that signifies evokes words and thoughts. We can only make sense of it through words. It is for us to join this semiotic process whereby silence summons words so that we can make sense of the voices of silence. The size, shape and tone of silence will tell us the story of the intent and sincerity of our candidates. Hence, we have the task of reading the alphabets of silence that hide in the rhetoric of electoral politics.

Silence houses the unuttered and the unsaid and even the unsayable and the unutterable. Silence speaks silently. Hence, we do have to listen to the silent noise of disruption that we have seen that political parties have unleashed on us. They have poached candidates for votes and notes to the extent that so far 16MLA’s have switched sides in five months.We can also listen to the rhetoric of disruption when the party loyalists feel let down when their higher-ups dubiously choose to give tickets to candidates on basis of what may be winnability if not crass sale of tickets to the highest bidder. This means silence per se is a very powerful rhetorical strategy and certainly merits investigation. Hence, we have to listen to both what the politicians and their political parties are saying as well as are not saying. We have to read silence as a text. Indeed, there is an inalienable relationship between silence, speech and textuality. This means we have to critically discern the function of silence. In fact, silence and speech belong together. No speech is meaningful without the accompanying constitutive background of silence. Silence does come to the fore especially when we dialogue with each other. This is why we can decode the code of silence that foregrounds the rhetoric of politics in Goa today.

While we have the task to listen to what is not said in the said. We have to also consider silence as a communicative act. Hence, besides the content of communication where silence does play a constitutive role, we have to understand another dimension of silence. This dimension concerns the participants in the communicative act. Hence we have to understand that non-participation in the act of communication does not constitute non-participation in the social act. The dynamism of silence is also profoundly political. This is why who participates in which political discourse and who refrains from it also opens us to the analysis of the silent participant. We have spoken of the silent voter several times. While the silent voters can swing elections, here we are concerned with those that employ silence as a political strategy in active politics. This means political rhetoric is determined by silence as well as by those who choose to remain silent. We can clearly hear the silence of several political parties and their leaders as regards the rising process, joblessness, the three linear projects, sale of Mhadei, and threat of Goa becoming a coal hub etc. The vocal decimals of the promised freebies to women, youth, households are loud and deafening. But we have to face a dark silence over real issues. Hence, we have the challenge to listen to the silence that hides the political indent of the political players in Goa.

The dynamism of silence does inscribe the power play in our society. Silence is craftily and cunningly employed by powerful people to promote their vested interest. Silence, therefore, is a language and a strategy. This is mean it has a textual nature. This is why we have the challenge to deconstruct silence. We have to discern how silence is represented and give voice to the silence that is employed as a strategy to manipulate us and win our votes. We can deconstruct this silence by representing it with words. Such a deconstruction can become a critique that has the power to transform us into enlightened voters. Silence is indeed eloquent in its speech. The silence of Buddha or the silence of God has a lot to say. The silence of the politicians is no silence of Buddha or that of God. Hence, we have the challenge not just to attend to what is said but also have to have the courage and will to remain in what can be described as active saying where silence is speaking silently.

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Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

- Fr Victor Ferrao