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Vega, J.A. (2013). Silence, Now. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 61(6):1211-1225.

(2013). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 61(6):1211-1225

Silence, Now

Jason A. Wheeler Vega

A panel discussion on the subject of silence may bring to mind the variously attributed maxim, “Talking about music is like dancing about architecture.” The implication is that the attempt to do either, the latter more clearly than the former, is what mid-century analytic philosophers called a category mistake: an illegitimate confusion of two radically different kinds of things. The artist and experimental musician Laurie Anderson (to whom the saying is sometimes credited) is reported to have supplied a riposte: “How about a square dance?” (Scott 2010). Psychoanalysts are ideally more comfortable than many with paradox, an attitude stemming from our acquaintance with the primary processes of the mind, to which appearance and contradiction are no obstacle. Hence, a panel of four distinguished analysts talking at length about silence should cause no more than a brief tremor of absurdity, easily shaken off. In the report to follow I will try to convey as much as possible of the proceedings and each member's contribution, though much detail must be omitted for the sake of brevity and confidentiality. In places I will add my own gloss or elaborations, and will note these as they occur. Otherwise, the reader should assume that the text is a paraphrase of the presentations.

The panel was structured by the chair, Melinda Gellman, to be more a roundtable discussion than the traditional sequence of speakers followed by a discussant offering a summary and interpretation of the presentations. After introductory remarks by Gellman, Jody Messier Davies and Ronald Britton presented their work, followed by a mid-panel discussion of their papers by all four panelists. Salman Akhtar and Virginia Ungar then presented their papers, followed again by discussion among the panelists. As reporter, I was then invited to comment before the floor was opened for questions.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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