Thanksgiving Is Ruined

The Personal is Political. The Political is Personal.

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May 02, 2007
when minimalism backfires

[T]heir ennui was so tiresome that the old woman would often say to them,

"I want to know which is the worst; to be ravished an hundred times by negro pirates, to run the gauntlet among the Bulgarians, to be whipped and hanged, to be dissected, to row in the galleys; in a word, to have suffered all the miseries we have undergone, or to stay here, without doing anything?"

"That is a great question," said Candide.
from the conclusion to Voltaire's Candide (1759)
(alternate translation here)

At other times her silence seemed deliberately assumed to conceal far-reaching intentions, mysterious conclusions drawn from suspicions and resentments impossible to guess.
from Chapter 4 of Edith Wharton's Ethan Frome (1911)

Would you like to say
What that silence was meant to intend?
from Wire's "From the Nursery," Chairs Missing (1978)

But does not the concept of a "backfire" presuppose a "back" and a "front"? How the minimalism does not sound would depend on which direction you're pointed, whether you are on the end of the receiver (who may pick up cryptic silence) or the end of the transmitter (who may think they're sending volumes)? I guess so.