The Silence in its Wake

“The efficacious artwork leaves silence in its wake.” – Sonya Sontag

Several years ago I was walking through New Orleans’ crowded Jackson Square. It was just days before Mardi Gras and the French Quarter was filled with overwhelming activity. The square itself was claimed by an array fortune tellers, buskers, and several loud evangelists with huge signs and megaphones.

Literally, megaphones.

But there, amidst the hum and buzz of hundreds of people, one sound captured my attention. A young man, sitting on a bench playing his cello (Bach’s Cello Suite No. 1, if I remember right). With chaos and crowds and megaphones all around him, this cellist was creating a little space of calm and clarity, as though oblivious to the clambor all around him. 

And it drew me in. 

His simple song pulled me out of the noise of the square, and at the same time calmed the noise inside of me as well. 

As a noisemaker, isn’t that the goal? That you can provide some piece of inspiration or insight or art that will pull someone else out of their noisy world, and for just a moment create a space for reflection or laughter or connection?

It’s easy to join in the noise, using signs and megaphones to be heard above everyone else. But this kind of shouting match doesn’t help anyone. The more difficult art is to ignore the noise and play your song.

If your song is true enough, it will connect with the shouting.