The Anomie of Silence in Jonathan Safran Foer’s Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
Experts in different disciplines have examined the locations of silence, discovering it in the mouth (mutism), in the ear (deafness), in discourse (pause), in memory (Alzheimer’s), in the spirit (Buddhism), in music (rest), in law (a right to silence), in-between one person and another (absence of verbal communication), and in culture (Michel Foucault’s conception of a ‘culture of silence’). Some have found silence to be non-existent. In Foer’s Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (2005), Dresden bombing survivor Thomas Schell describes his lapse into muteness as the metastasis of cancer, noting that “‘I’ was the last word I was able to speak aloud.” A mutism that permeates the text, his silence reveals multiple displacements—from his homeland and the life he had envisioned, from his family and his own words. I propose that in this silence there is a kind of lawlessness—anomie—that creates and protects difference.
Date: Wednesday, 27 February 2013, from 16.45 to 17.45 in the G-160 Seminar Room.
Presenter: Dr. Mihaela Harper