Journal: Initial Impressions of Silence

(Sunday, March 3, 2019, 12:30 pm)

I just started reading a book called Silence. The writing style is so interesting! On the surface, it seems like any other moderately academic historical account intended to be somewhat accessible to laypeople. I can’t quite put my finger on how, but it seems very quiet for some reason. It’s like whispering. I’m going to pay closer attention to see if I can figure out how she gets that effect. I would love to write like that. Right now, she’s talking about this prison in Pennsylvania a couple hundred years ago where they experimented with imposing absolute silence and isolation at all times. It came from the Quaker ideals of silence and was meant to be actually rehabilitative as opposed to merely punitive. I don’t know yet what conclusions she has drawn, whether she’s arguing for or against it. She does mention one interesting, slightly tangential fact: In 17th century Massachusetts, sons rebelling against their parents could be sentenced to death. That seems like pretty good evidence to me that teenage rebellion was not always considered “normal.”

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