Abstract

Silence is neither separate from nor the opposite of communication. The inclusion of silence on a par with speech and non-verbal means is a vital element of any communication strategy. The more indirect communication is, the more silent it becomes at any additional “joint” and “fold”. Strategic communication is essentially indirect. It instrumentalizes obvious (visual and vocal) semiotic means to convey not (always) obvious meanings (goals, feelings, values, attitudes, actions). Negation, or apophasis, is a form of strategic silence, used across the cultures – be it as religious doctrine, literary method or communication strategy. It is semiotic – especially linguistic – self-negation that carries extra-semiotic projections. Language, for example, admits that it is not an almighty medium, but also reminds us that nothing else can replace it. Negation is a risky strategy, because it leaves the meaning of a signification by a sender almost wholly to the imagination of the receiver. It takes some willingness to make sense, interpretative effort and resources by the addressee to achieve the intended effect. But if it succeeds, negation engages the publics emotionally and spiritually more than any other strategy. Nowadays, the promotional cultures are increasingly exploiting the power of silence as negation. An “apophatic turn” in the humanities stresses on the exploration rather than the taken for granted and on the open-ended rather than “business as usual”. Apophatic silence as a method is not autopoetic – not closed in self-referential systems of thinking. It rather offers sensibility to cultural flows, participative creativity and self-questioning in reflective loops.

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