Silence As Sound

Silence is defined an absence of sound. But is it?

If we think about silence in poetry, it serves as form of structure. Poems typically have stanzas and verses so readers know when to move to the next line. That momentary pause, that transition when the reader is either moving to the next line or next stanza serves as a sonic quality to the poem. It’s almost adding “space” to the poem itself.

Silence has a spectrum not unlike sound does. There is are certain kinds of silence that encounter in everyday life. When you go to sleep, you house has a certain silence. The morning street scene, lightly draped with fog has a certain silence. The silence of a car, after you had an argument with someone, and you had the misfortune of being the driver or even worse, the passenger.

Several of the poems in, Buzzing Hemispheres, a collection by Urayoán Noel, feature silence as sound

(46) these syllables

these sounds

these silences

(53) You're left with you silence
(69)a profusion of furniture 

a silence of pianos 


Silence in the context of Buzzing Hemisphere, takes on many form. The passage on 56 utilizes silence in our patterns of speech. The passage on 69 refers to the softness of pianos and for many people is extremely comforting.

So the absence of sound, is a sound itself.




The Future of Africa

One aspect of Tram 83 that is apparent is the sort of futility of life in Africa. Things are so bad, things are so awful, that there is no hope for the current generation let alone the future generations. When Americans think of Africa, the memories that come to mind are the tragedies of Africa.  They usually think of the constant food crises, the lack of clean drinking water for many, and perpetual violence. The images of Africa highlight the continual coups, most likely a rebel group lead by a warlord dressed in the “traditional” garb of Western fatigues, aviators a red beret. You know the uniform.

However all is not all dark clouds and negativity. For many years, Africa was only allowed to be a victim in the international community. This truth is; Africa is taking what it has been given, and is forging a positive future. According to, they are key figures that show that Africa is growing at an unprecedented rate. This document also shows that African are everything but their stereotypes.


This are just reminder that the stories that get to be important in the international consciousness are not the whole story. These are only a few facts that Africa is actually thriving. It isn’t just perpetual misery. A growing middle class is being build. There are more Africans than there have ever been. But the one fact that is the most inspiring is that they are rebuilding their economies after years of exploitation. This is also great considering that many of these republics are relatively young. Many of them were only established just a few decades ago. The future is looking  bright for Africa.

Dehumanization: Backs against the Wall

In “Utopia” by Ahmed Khaled Towfik, the motif of removing all human qualities from a person is very powerful. It strips all things that make us human; and converts us to simple creatures that only care about survival. The transition from human being to animal is a slow and arduous process. The most common scenario is refugees in war-type scenarios. The ability to empathize and collaborate with humans is not a priority in a situation where food and safety is scarce.  It’s very gradual often starting with the characters barely holding on to their morals, but due to the desperation of the situation have to throw it out in order to survive.

The poor of the city in “Utopia” are pushed to the edge however it’s more prevalent than people think. It’s a powerful motif and is often a fixture of other works of fiction.

“Night” by Elie Wiesel is a WWII novel which follows a young Jew as he survives the Nazi Occupation. The novel starts with the destruction of the temple he frequents and ends with his liberation by the US Army.

“One day when we had stopped, a worker took a piece of bread out of his bag and threw it into a wagon. There was a stampede. Dozens of starving men fought desperately over a few crumbs. The worker watched the spectacle with great interest. […] In the wagon where the bread had landed, a battle had ensued. Men were hurling themselves against each other, trampling, tearing at and mauling each other. Beasts of prey unleashed, animal hate in their eyes.” (100)

The desperation drove them to an animistic state and it shows. They are unable to care about their fellow man any more. The are reduced to animals in every sense. At one point these men were the same men that had hopes and dreams, had children, had friends, had the ability to empathize with others. All of that was stripped from them.

All Your Base Are Belong to US

The above image is a popular image that circulated the internet a few years ago. It is a screen capture of a translated Sega Mega-Drive (aka Sega Genesis in the States) called Zero Wing. It recalls the period in which popular Japanese media was attempting to flow into the United States with limited resources. One of those resources were primitive translation skills from Japanese to English.

American Imperialism, in which the American Government has numerous military bases throughout the world has been a shadow looming over the international community for nearly two centuries now. An American global presence is strategic choice to keep tabs on the globe. All regions of the world excluding Antarctica and parts of the North Pole has some form of military presence.

The novel “Sign Preceding the End of the World” heavily criticizes this kind of global presence. The character Makina makes an candid observation about American global domination. She likens it to America’s favorite past time: baseball. She says “One of them whacks it, then sets off like it was a trip around the world, to every one of the bases out there, you know the anglos have bases all over the world, right?”

American like to believe that this global presence is wanted. They like to see themselves as shining because of freedom and justice. And to some extent, it is true. However, it is that big of a stretch of the imagination that some countries are given no choice, and have to suffer the consequent of American Imperialism. soldier-military-uniform-american.jpg

We are so blind to the fact that we are forcing cooperation with this foreign policy. We believe that we are attributing no wrongdoing.

Do we need to rethink our global strategy? Do we really need military bases around the world? Are we contributing to threats to global stability with this policy?pexels-photo-356842.jpeg