The beauty of unspoken moments /
by Shane Butler
I've always been a big fan of Dan Graham's writing and evocative video-piece "Rock My Religion" in which he compares the society of Shakers to the likes of Patti Smith, Monsieur Morrison, the collective entity of "the audience," and the overall ritual of Rock.
I myself only once visited a Shaker community when I was more of a baby; about halfway to my current age. I did though, have quite a long relationship with another "aker"; I went to a Quaker boarding school for all of my high-school years.
I wasn't raised a Quaker, but it was a good option to go to this school seeing that the local school system where I grew up was a bit bonkers. At this school, every week we would sit in what is known as "meeting for worship," the traditional Quaker service. In meeting for worship, our community would gather in a large, semi-ancient meetinghouse and sit in rows of chairs that all faced in towards the center of the building; and towards each other. It was kind of like a "positive Panopticon," or so you could say.
Meeting for worship for a teenager like myself was a wonderful opportunity to pull pranks and see how many folks I may be able to fill with the vibrations of humor while we held in our laughter like pressure tanks at full volume. It was a time full of the screeching sound one makes at the back of their mouth throughout most of elementary school; holding in the juice of our jokes and quenching our thirst through laughter. Nevertheless, meeting for worship also introduced me greatly to relating to others in silence.
Nowadays I find myself playing in a Rock & Roll band and consistently noticing similarities between a space like meeting for worship and the role of "the show" as we like to call it in our music world. There is an unspoken camaraderie that comes about within an audience when we sit in silence together; observing acts in harmony. This camaraderie resonates within those who are talking during the set, the haters, the scenesters, and amidst the silent pillars of human who choose to just take the role of "observer."
It is precisely within these unspoken moments in which so much . . .
The radical possibility of gossip /
by Tali S.F.
For as long as I can remember, I've been torn between my tendency toward speaking out and my desire to keep the peace. This struggle has been partially informed by my childhood experiences that included a constant stream of contradictory expectations placed specifically upon me as a Jewish woman. I grew up in a strict, religious community, and from a young age became accustomed to the normality of an endless set of rules that governed my existence. These regulations were introduced simply enough, with laws about keeping kosher and saying the correct prayers before bed. As I got older, things intensified in specificity and scope. As young Jewish women reach puberty, a new set of rules are introduced, pertaining both to the outward body and to the socially acceptable ways of maintaining the inner self.
I could follow rules about clothing and food fairly easily: no more pants, no more sharing classrooms with boys. These were strange new realities, but they were manageable. More confusing were those laws that pertained to the ways in which we were trained to communicate with one another. In a manner that can only be described as obsessive, our young, religious teachers taught our all-girl classroom about the evils of gossip, a term that is in biblical Hebrew known as "loshen harah." To ensure that the point was driven home, lessons were taught from a scriptural perspective. Teachers told us the story of Miriam, sister of Moses, a leader of the Torah-era Israelites. The story from the Hebrew bible goes as follows:
Miriam was Moses' older sister, popularly known for saving him from the ancient Egyptian edict that demanded first born Jewish males be killed. Miriam saved her brother by sending him down the Nile river in a basket and he was discovered by the Pharaoh's daughter who raised him as an Egyptian. As an adult, Moses discovered his Jewish identity and chose to reunite with his family rather than remain a prince. He eventually married a woman with darker skin than that of his family, and Miriam reacted harshly against Moses' decision. She spoke outwardly about her disapproval and as a result of her bad mouthing, God struck Miriam with a painful skin disease known as Tzaraath. Like the Scarlet A, her boils were specifically meant to be visible so she would be embarrassed, so that everyone would . . .