imagine


The silence of the Asonu is proverbial. The first visitors believed that these gracious, gracile people were mute, lacking any language other than that of gesture, expression, and gaze. Later, hearing Asonu children chatter, the visitors suspected that among themselves the adults spoke, keeping silence only with strangers. We know now that the Asonu are not dumb, but that once past early childhood they speak only very rarely, to anyone, under any circumstances. They do not write; and unlike mutes, or monks under vows of silence, they do not use any signs or other devices in place of speaking.

This nearly absolute abstinence from language makes them fascinating.

People who live with animals value the charm of muteness. It can be a real pleasure to know when the cat walks into the room that he won’t mention any of your shortcomings, or that you can tell your grievances to your dog without his repeating them to the people who caused them.

And those who can talk, but don’t, have the great advantage over the rest of us that they never say anything stupid. -Ursula Le Guin, The Silence of the Asonu (free to read at Lightspeed magazine)

Writing Prompt: Write a story or scene from the point of view of someone who never speaks.

Journaling Prompt: Write about your experience with silence. Would you voluntarily give up speaking?

Art Prompt: Silence

Photo Credit: AlicePopkorn on Flickr

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