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Say Nothing: A History of Silence

In this week’s Dispatches from The Secret Library, Dr Oliver Tearle contemplates silence, courtesy of Alain Corbin’s new book

I wasn’t intending to write about this book this week. But then on Monday night, I learnt of the death of Mark Hollis, the lead singer of the 1980s and early 1990s band Talk Talk, and I found myself writing about him. So although this isn’t a music blog and this post isn’t about music, as such, I felt I had to write something. Because there are some of us who feel that Mark Hollis was the most outstanding English songwriter and musician of his time, and his death revealed just how many of us there are who hold that view.

But as I say, this isn’t a music blog, so I won’t wax lyrical about Mark Hollis for too long. I will remain silent – something he may well have approved of. For if there is one thing which characterises Hollis’s work, it is silence. If Walter Pater is right and all art constantly aspires towards the condition of music, then for Mark Hollis, all the best music is constantly aspiring towards silence. Read the rest of this entry