1 Speech and silence belong together. To see speech without silence is like seeing Shakespeare's fools without the solidity of Shakespeare's heroes, or like seeing the martyrdom of the saints in medieval pictures without their transfiguration. Speech and silence, hero and fool, martyrdom and transfiguration—all are a unity. Speech must remain in relationship with the silence from which it raised itself up. It belongs to human nature that speech should turn back to silence, for it belongs to human nature to return to the place whence it has come. Human speech is determined not only by truth but also by goodness: in goodness speech returns to its origins. It is important that speech remains in relationship with silence through goodness, for it means that from the very beginning goodness is part of the texture of every word, that in the very structure of language there is an inclination towards goodness. In the word that was related to the greatest silence was the greatest goodness. Words that merely come from other words are hard and aggressive. Such words are also lonely, and a great part of the melancholy in the world today is due to the fact that man has made words lonely by separating them from silence. This repudiation of silence is a factor of human guilt, and the melancholy in the world is the outward expression of that guilt. Language is surrounded by the dark rim of melancholy, no longer by the rim of silence. Silence is present in language, therefore, even after language has arisen out of silence. The world of language is built over and above the world of silence. Language can only enjoy security as it moves about freely in words and ideas in so far as the broad world of silence is stretched out below. From the breadth of silence language learns to achieve its own breadth. Silence is for language what the net stretched out taut below him is for the tightrope walker. The mind, the infinite mind that is in language, needs to have below it the infinity of silence so that it can build its own arch of infinity over it. It is quite possible for the mind to be infinite and immeasurable of its own accord. But the silence underneath helps it to move freely in its own infinity. Silence is the natural basis for the immeasurable infinity of mind. It is the natural basis for the mind in any case: that which is unutterable in the language of the mind connects the mind with silence, makes it at home in the world of silence. Language must remain in intimate relationship with silence. The transparent, hovering way of silence makes language itself transparent and hovering. It is like a bright cloud over silence, a bright cloud over the placid lake of silence. Silence provides a natural source of re-creation for language, a source of refreshment and purification from the wickedness to which language itself has given rise. In silence language holds its breath and fills its lungs with pure and original air. Even when language remains the same, it is able to appear as something original and new as it emerges from silence. Truth, which is always expressed in the same words, does not therefore become solidified. The spirit is also able to give to language refreshing draughts of new life. There is a kind of refreshment that comes from contact with natural silence, and another kind that is produced by the spirit. Perfection is achieved when the original power and freshness of the natural silence and of the spirit meet and are combined in one per- son, as in Dante and Goethe. Now thou has finished thine appointed task her below, stern Mind, and a gentle playful sun has streamed into the last evening storm on thy breast and filled the storm with roses and gold. The globe and all earthly things from which the fleeting worlds are formed were much too small and light for thee. For thou was searching for something higher than life behind life, not thine own self, no mortal or immortal being but the Eternal, the Alpha, the God—the appearance of the things of this world below, both the evil and the good, was so indifferent to thee. Now thou art resting in the real world of being, death has taken from thy dark heart the whole sultry cloud of life and the eternal Light stands uncovered, the Light thou hast sought so long: and thou, one of its rays, dwells once again in the fire. (Jean Paul, Titan) These words of Jean Paul are like round balloons con- trolled invisibly from below by silence. It is as though everything said here aloud in words had already happened in silence, for that is what gives the words their quality of sure certainty, intimacy and sublimity. As if in a dream the words imitate the movements that have already happened in the silence. In Goethe language assumes a more self-conscious attitude towards silence than in Jean Paul. It is the victory of language over silence which is supremely important, not in the sense of a boastful triumph but in the sense of the consciousness and pride of a man who knows that it is language that has first made him a man and who therefore shows pride in his use of words. 2 Man lives between the world of silence from which he comes and the world of the other silence to which he goes —the world of death. Human language also lives between these two worlds of silence and is upheld by them. That is why language has a double echo: from the place whence it came and from the place of death. Language receives innocence, simplicity, and originality from the silence whence it came, but its short duration, its fragility, and the fact that language never entirely corresponds to the things it is describing, come from the second silence, from death. The marks of both worlds are evident in the language of Jean Paul: the innocence and originality, and at the same time the readiness to depart, and the fleeting transience of language. In the modern world language is far from both worlds of silence. It springs from noise and vanishes in noise. Silence is today no longer an autonomous world of its own; it is simply the place into which noise has not yet penetrated. It is a mere interruption of the continuity of noise, like a technical hitch in the noise-machine—that is what silence is today: the momentary breakdown of noise. We no longer have definite silence and definite language, but simply words that are being spoken and words that have not yet been spoken—but these are present, too, standing around like tools that are not being used; they stand waiting there menacingly or boringly. The other silence, the silence of death, is also absent in language today, just as real death is absent in the modern world. Death is no longer an autonomous world of its own, but merely something negative: the extreme end of what we call life: life emptied to the last dregs—that is what death is today. Death itself has been killed. Death today is far removed from that death of which the follow- ing sentence was spoken: Man dies only once in his life, and as he lacks experience of the event he bungles it. So that he may die success- fully, he must learn how to die by following the instruct- ion of experienced men who know what it means to die in the midst of life. Asceticism gives us this experience of death. (Florensky) When language is no longer related to silence it loses its source of refreshment and renewal and therefore something of its substance. Language today seems to talk automatic- ally, out of its own strength, and, emptying and scattering itself, it seems to be hastening to an end. There is some- thing hard and obstinate in language today, as though it were making a great effort to remain alive in spite of its emptiness. There is also something desperate in it, as though it were expecting its emptiness to lead it to a relentless end, and it is this alteration of obstinacy and despair which makes it so restless. By taking it away from silence we have made language an orphan. The tongue we speak today is no longer a mother-tongue but rather an orphaned tongue. It sometimes seems as though man were ashamed of the language he has separated from its parent: man hardly feels he can dare to communicate his words to another. He talks more to himself and into himself, as though he wanted to crush, crumple, and destroy the words he speaks and throw them like ruins down into the emptiness of his own soul. It is only in the language of the poets that the real word, the word connected with silence, still sometimes appears. It is like a ghost, full of sadness that it is only a ghost and must disappear again. Beauty is the dark cloud in which such words appear only to disappear again. 3 Language sinks down again into the silence. It can be forgotten, There is an oblivion in language, it seems, so that language should not be too violent. The supremacy that language has over silence is thereby mitigated. The sinking of words into oblivion is as it were a sign that things belong to us only temporarily and can be called back to whence they came. When a word sinks into oblivion, it is forgotten, and this forgetting prepares the way for forgiveness. That is a sign that love is woven into the very structure of language: words sink into the forgetfulness of man so that in forget- ting he may also forgive. The disappearance and forgetting of a word also pre- pares the way for death. Just as the word that makes us human disappears, so man himself dies: death also is woven into the very structure of language. Today it seems as though language had been robbed of its forgetfulness: every word is present somewhere in the general noise of words around us. In the general noise of words everything emerges for a moment, only to disappear again. Everything is there at the same time and yet not there at all. There is no longer any present immediacy of the word and therefore no forgetting. Forgetting is no longer done by man directly but proceeds outside his control in the general noise of words jostling one with another. But that is not a forgetting at all, but merely a disappearing. And so there is no forgiving either in the world today; since now one can never get rid of a word or a thing, it is always bound to turn up again somewhere. And it is also a fact that one never really has a word or a thing today—and that is why people are so nervous. 4 We have said that language comes from silence and returns to silence. It is as though behind silence were the absolute word to which, through silence, human language moves. It is as though the human word were sustained by the absolute word. Because it is there, the human word is not scattered as the dust. Man would have to be constantly regaining the realm of language if it were not secured from attack in the absolute word. All human words seem to move around that word. Silence is like a remembrance of that word. The different languages are like different attempts to find the absolute word. It is as though words had agree to divide themselves up into various languages, in order to attempt the discovery of the absolute word from different direct- ions. Languages seem to be like so many expeditions to find the absolute word. If there were only one language, this language would be in a much too triumphant position in regard to silence. Language would seem too much like territory conquered from silence, and silence too much subject to the will of language. Man might become arrogant about this one extraordinary conquest. In fact he did become arrogant when all men had only one language: Behold, the people is one, and they all have one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do. (Gen. 2:6) As soon as there are many languages, however, lan- guages are inter-related. No single one is exclusive; each is merely one among many. The extraordinary thing is now no longer the existence of a single language but that truth is mediated through many languages. There is now a new unity of languages based on the fact that the one truth is expressed through all languages.