The World of Silence

Images and Silence

   Images are silent, but they speak in silence. They
are a silent language. They are a station on the way 
from silence to language. They stand on the frontier where
silence and language face each other closer than anywhere
else, but the tension between them is resolved by
   Images and pictures remind man of life before the
coming of language; they move him with a yearning for
that life. But pure aestheticism, the exclusive love of
pictures, is a danger to the true nature of man, if he is
tempted to yield to the pressure of this yearning and to
surrender language, which is his true nature. The very
beauty of images and pictures only increases the  danger.

   It is the soul that preserves the silent images of things.
The soul does not, like the mind, express itself about
things through the medium of words, but rather through
the images of things. Things have a dual existence in
man: first in the soul through images, then in the mind
through words.
   The image of things are preserved in the soul as before
the creation of language.
   The images in the soul point to a higher realm beyond
language, where there is nothing but images, where
images speak as words and words as images.

          The difference between our active thinking and the
          thinking of God is that God expresses Himself through
          things themselves, using them as language, whereas we
          express our thoughts only in the language of words.

   It may be that things bring their images to the soul so
that the soul may pass them on to the Divine, to the Orig-
inal of all images and all things.
   Too many things crowd in on man today, too many
images press in upon his soul. There is no more silent
peace in the soul, only a silent lack of peace. Man becomes
nervous and confused because the images whose real
nature it is to create peace in the soul bring him an uneasy
lack of peace instead. The images no longer give the
peace of their own silence to the soul; they take peace
from the soul by disturbing and consuming it with their
riotous jostling one with another.
   Silence has been banished from the world today. All
that is left is muteness and emptiness. Silence seems to
survive only as a mere "structural fault" in the everlasting
flow of noise. It is therefore all the more important that
the silent images should be preserved in the soul.

   We have said that things have a dual existence in man,
first as images in the soul, then as words in the mind.
The silent images of things in the soul and the words
about things in the mind co-exist in man. The silent
images of things in the soul bring their silence to the
words that are the life of the mind. They work silence
into the texture of language; they keep it supplied with
silence, with the original power of silence.
   The more clearly the images of things are present in
the soul, the more surely will the soul preserve words
from the perils of unbridled freedom. For there is a
centripetal force in images, which holds the parts of an
image together by the power of the idea of the image, so
that the image rests in itself, is centered in itself. Words
that are still in relationship with images have part in this
centripetal force and are thus preserved from the dangers
of a sudden violent explosion. For the figurative word,
the word related to an image, is less expansive than the
abstract word, and it protects man from the dangers of
the unrestrained association of ideas.

   Past, present and future are in a unity in silence, This
unity is also present in the soul, in the silent images of the
soul, but it is not there as the knowledge of past and 
present—such knowledge is the province of the mind.
Unity is present in the soul as a premonition of past,
present, future. There is a premonition in the silent
images of the soul. The word has knowledge but the
image has premonitions. And when it is close to the 
images of the soul, even the word begins to share them.
   The word does not then become vague and indefinite;
rather it gains in definition and clarity. The nearness
of the images makes the thing it describes clearly visible
to the word. The image protects the word from the
infiltration of something that does not really belong to the

   Dreams are also images filled with silence. They are
like gaily colored transfer pictures on the surface of
silence. It may be that dreams bring silence back to the
man who has used up all too much of it in the daytime.
   When the images of dreams fade away, the dew of
silence that remains flows down softly into the troubles
of a new day.
   The images of dreams are more violent than the images
in the soul. That is why past, present and future are
more violently confused in dreams; and why some
dreams are so prophetic.
   Psychoanalysis destroys the essential nature of dreams;
it destroys their silent power by delivering them over to
the noisy altercation of analysis. The psychoanalytical 
analysis of dreams is the occupation of the silent world
of dreams by noise.