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Let Us Not Waste Words[1]

Tongue like Barbed Wire[2]

Dense Black Barbed-Wire Letters[3]

Sense is Concealed by Deliberate Jumbling of the Letters[4]

Words Abandon their Grammar and Sense and then even their Shapes so

That each Letter points in Every Direction at once and Means Nothing at all[5]

I go far enough back to the Stone Age to make mere Inarticulate Sounds[6]

For every Sound that Floats from the Rust within their Throats[7]

The only word they know is Grunt and they Can’t Spell it[8]

Instead of Speaking you are Content to produce In-

Distinct Sounds – in any case the result is the same[9]

Splinters of Language – Fallen Letters[10]


Rioted with the Wildest Scribble of Contradictory Jottings[11]

Lean Wire of Words Worming Brokenly out from Eaten Thought[12]

My mouth is Full & Broad – my tongue Cluttered with Syllables & Desires[13]

Words is such a Twitch-Tickling Problem to me all my Life – I is all of a Stutter[14]

I struggle through the Alphabet as if it is a Bramble-Bush – Scratched by every Letter[15]

I Hear the sound of Words – their Sense the Air Dissolves Unjointed ere it reach my ear[16]

Shuddering Mouth-Wracked and Battered Bleak of brain all Drained of brilliance[17]

Broken Thought Machines coming back with their Used-up Words[18]

A formless Hodgepodge of Contradictions and Free Associations,

A passage of Whirling and Incohesiveness, Signifying … What?[19]

The Murmur Trembles on the verge of Coherence, Sinks

Down, Mounts excitedly, and then Ceases altogether[20]


A Heap of Used-up Words to read[21]

He who Talks Loud Saying Nothing[22]

He Exercises his Tongue more than his Muscles[23]

Some people Without Brains do an Awful lot of Talking[24]

A Tragic Effort to live in Monologue rather than Dialogue[25]

Mouth, Speaketh Too Much! Over Much Talking Harmeth, and Too Much Crowing Smarteth[26]

People have to Talk about something just to keep their Voice Boxes in Working order, so

They’ll have good Voice Boxes in case there’s ever anything really Meaningful to Say[27]

There is a Great Rattling of the words for the Fewness of the Ideas[28]

If man were to Say and Write all he Thinks, there would

Be Nothing more Horrible on God’s Earth than Man[29]

Senseless, Ostentatious Talk, Words with the sole

Purpose of Scandalously Exhibiting Themselves[30]


Peppy Platitudes on Demand[31]

Gaudy Chatter of the Pseudo-Experienced[32]

You’re only any Good when it comes to Talking[33]

It’s all an Idea – Talk – Talk – Talk – Froth – High Flown Idiocy[34]

The Gods seem to have given you Lessons in Bluster and Tall Talking[35]

Ye look to the Speech and Fair Words of a Flatterer – paying no regard to any practical Result[36]

All our Fine Talk is only to Divert our Attention and other people’s[37]

Robe of Speculative Cobwebs – Embroidered with Flowers

Of Rhetoric – Steeped in the Dew of Sickly Sentiment[38]

What use is your Clever, Slick-Talking Tongue?[39]

With Fairest Tongues are Falsest Minds[40]


Begins to Clamor the Ferocious Mouth[41]

Bitter Words that Sting me to the Quick[42]

Their Accent is an Affliction to the Ears[43]

People will give account for every Careless Word they Utter[44]

If we Speak of Poisoned Tongues – what shall we say of yours young Serpent?[45]

The Sentence is a Knife that Cuts his Tongue as he Speaks it[46]

Careless Words make people Love you Less[47]

You make a Rope of Words and Strangle[48]

You can Suffocate between these Pages[49]

Too many Words Black your Ears[50]


Beauty can’t be Talked into Speech[51]

No Pulsations of Passionate Rhetoric Suffice[52]

In my Study my Faith is Perfect – it Breaks, Scat-

Ters, becomes Confounded in Converse with Men[53]

You start putting a Word into the line, but it Doesn’t Fit – so you Press and Break it[54]

People often hold Great Thoughts in their Deepest Hearts and sometimes only Blunderingly

Express them, Haltingly and Stumblingly Say them, and Faultily put them into Practice[55]

Everything turns to Dust in the Hand – to Gall on the Tongue[56]

Words are not Deeds – just the Gaps in people’s Lacks[57]

What I want to Say most is Lost in the Saying[58]

Whatever can be Articulated is Falsely put[59]

Prayers Plow Not! Praises Reap Not![60]


If you Speak – Speak to her who Understands[61]

Pare to nearly Nothing the Movement of the Wrist[62]

Be Moderate in all things – and Speak only in due Season[63]

What counts is Communicating the Indispensable – Skipping all

The Superfluous – reducing ourselves to Essential Communication[64]

Write in such a way that the other Person is Receptive toward Reading –

Speak in such a way that the other Person is Receptive toward Listening[65]

Our Speech is Tamed, and when we Speak, it Communicates –

We don’t Waste the Gift of Speech in Expressing our Neurosis[66]

Nothing Extra, just the Tight Packaging of a Thought, or Scene

In Lines … only the Necessary and Absolutely Nothing else[67]

I never Speak unless Addressed – and then, ‘tis Brief and Low –

I cannot bear to Live – Aloud – the Racket Shames me so[68]

She is not a woman of many Words – for, unlike people in

General, she Proportions them to the number of her Ideas[69]

He Doesn’t have Much to Say – but knows How to Say it[70]


Better Far were Mute[71]

Why keep Talking when we Know you so Well?[72]

If Things Are the way we Say they are – then Why do we Say they are?[73]

It would be much Better if this occasion were Celebrated with No Talk at all[74]

Not all that is Thought need be Said, not all that is Said need be Written, not

All that is Written need be Published, not all that is Published need be Read[75]

What is Better than to Tell the Best? It is always to leave the Best Untold[76]

Show Everybody that you’re able to Leave without Saying a Word[77]

This Conversation can serve no Purpose anymore – Goodbye[78]

What we cannot Speak about we must Pass over in Silence[79]

Shut your Mouth before your Guts run Out[80]


Let not your Tongue Outrun your Thought[81]

“I Don’t Think” – “then you Shouldn’t Talk”[82]

One who Knows does not Speak – one who Speaks does not Know[83]

The Heart of a Fool is in his Mouth – and the Mouth of the Wise is in his Heart[84]

When you get to really Feeling – you won’t be so ready then Always with your Talking[85]

It is good to Know a thing or two about which you Speak or even to be an Expert[86]

The More he Sees the Less he Speaks – the Less he Speaks the More he Hears[87]

Watchin’ and Listnenin’s the thing at Present – Not Talking[88]

He Thinks Much and concludes to Say Nothing at all[89]

Give every man thy Ear – but Few thy Voice[90]


What can I Say, anyway – that the Silence Cannot?[91]

The most Important Things are Never Openly said –

They are Understated and Left to Seep through to one[92]

What does Heaven ever Say? Yet the Four Seasons are put in

Motion by it and the Myriad Creatures Receive their Life from it[93]

Everything you Say, even if only a Few Words – can be Inferred from your Behavior[94]

You do not Know when and when not to Speak – Silence will save me from this Misfortune[95]

That’s when you Know you’ve Found somebody really Special: when you

Can just Shut the Fuck up for a Minute and Comfortably Share a Silence[96]

I stop Speaking to anybody – and that is the Closest I get to Prayer[97]

One Lives in a Seamless Experience of Wordlessness[98]

Words are Useless: Gobble, Gobble, Gobble, Gob-

Ble, Gobble, too much of it – that is why I Show[99]

What Happens doesn’t Happen in Words[100]

[1] Hermann Hesse tr. Joachim Neugroschel, Siddhartha

[2] Philip Pullman, The Subtle Knife

[3] Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar

[4] Jules Verne tr. Robert Baldick, Journey to the Center of the Earth

[5] Philip Levine, The Poem of Chalk

[6] H.G. Wells, The Croquet Player

[7] Edgar Allan Poe, The Bells

[8] Douglas Adams, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe

[9] Primo Levi tr. Raymond Rosenthal, Among the Peaks of Manhattan

[10] Jean Joubert tr. Denise Levertov, Wind Script

[11] Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own

[12] W.R. Rodgers, Neither Here Nor There

[13] Ntozake Shange, Flying-Song

[14] Roald Dahl, The BFG

[15] Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

[16] John Milton, Samson Agonistes

[17] Allen Ginsberg, Howl

[18] Alice Oswald, Flies

[19] James Miller, Examined Lives

[20] F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

[21] Philip Whalen, I Give Up

[22] Jim Jarmusch, Dead Man

[23] Boris Yekimov tr. Shirley Benson, A Greeting from Afar

[24] Noel Langley, Florence Ryerson, & Allen Woolf, The Wizard of Oz

[25] Martin Luther King Jr., Letter from Birmingham Jail

[26] Caxton’s Aesop, The Fox and the Cock

[27] Kurt Vonnegut, Cat’s Cradle

[28] Charles Baxter, Gryphon

[29] Immanuel Kant tr. Hippel, quoted by James Miller in Examined Lives

[30] Philip Roth, American Pastoral

[31] Malka Daskal, Handbook for the Aspiring Ghost

[32] Paul Celan tr. Pierre Joris, Breathturn

[33] Tayeb Salih tr. Denys Johnson-Davies, Seasons of Migration to the North

[34] Agatha Christie, N or M?

[35] Homer tr. Samuel Butler, The Odyssey

[36] Solon, quoted by Diogenes Laërtius tr. Robert Drew Hicks in Lives of the Eminent Philosophers

[37] Anton Chekhov tr. Constance Garnett, The Cherry Orchard

[38] Karl Marx & Friedrich Engels, The Communist Manifesto

[39] Padmasambhava tr. Gyurme Dorje, The Tibetan Book of the Dead

[40] Nursery Rhyme, Anne Bothwell’s Lullaby

[41] Dante Alighieri tr. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, The Inferno

[42] The Arabian Nights, The King of Persia and the Princess of the Sea

[43] George Eliot, Middlemarch

[44] Matthew 12:36 (English Standard)

[45] J.R.R. Tolkien, The Two Towers

[46] Ursula K. Le Guin, Unchosen Love

[47] Arundhati Roy, The God of Small Things

[48] Charles Brackett, Billy Wilder & D.M. Marshman Jr., Sunset Boulevard

[49] Deborah Pope, Diary

[50] Brundi proverb

[51] Eduardo C. Corral, Testaments Scratched into a Water Station Barrel

[52] Denise Levertov, The Cry

[53] Ralph Waldo Emerson, quoted by James Miller in Examined Lives

[54] Vladimir Mayakovsky tr. Ruth Herschberger & Marina Prychodko, A Talk With a Tax Collector

[55] Langston Hughes, Freedom’s Plow

[56] Katherine Anne Porter, Flowering Judas

[57] William Faulkner, As I Lay Dying

[58] Snehal Vadher, Figures in a windswept language

[59] J.M. Coetzee, Waiting for the Barbarians

[60] William Blake, Proverbs of Hell

[61] Senegalese proverb

[62] Christina Pugh, Instructions to a Dancer

[63] Roger Lancelyn Green, King Arthur

[64] Italo Calvino tr. William Weaver, The Night Driver

[65] Thich Nhat Hanh tr. Sherab Chödzin Kohn, True Love

[66] Pema Chödrön, When Things Fall Apart

[67] Morrigan McCarthy, Peanut Butter and Poetry

[68] Emily Dickinson, I Was the Slightest in the House

[69] Jane Austen, Sense and Sensibility

[70] Charles Wright,Buffalo Yoga

[71] Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Dejection: An Ode

[72] Nigerian proverb

[73] Leon, quoted by Peter Gizzi in Ode: Salute to the New York School

[74] Alan Watts, Zen Bones

[75] Menachem Mendel of Kotzk

[76] Walt Whitman, A Song of the Rolling Earth

[77] Charles Aznavour & Marcel Stellman, You’ve Got to Learn

[78] Stanley Kubrick & Arthur C. Clark, 2001: A Space Odyssey

[79] Ludwig Wittgenstein, quoted by Ann Lauterbach in Task: To Open

[80] Stuart Stern, Rebel Without a Cause

[81] Chilon, quoted by Diogenes Laërtius tr. Robert Drew Hicks in Lives of the Eminent Philosophers

[82] Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

[83] Lao Tzu tr. Charles Muller, Tao Te Ching 56

[84] Abyssinia Proverb

[85] Gertrude Stein, Three Lives

[86] Ross Gay, To the Mistake

[87] Edward Hersey Richards, A Wise Old Owl

[88] C.S. Lewis, The Magician’s Nephew

[89] Edgar Allan Poe, Thou Art the Man

[90] William Shakespeare, Hamlet

[91] Emily Ruehs-Navarro, The Mother of Exiles

[92] Richard Wright, Black Boy

[93] Confucius tr. Edward Slingerland, Analects 17.19

[94] Franz Kafka tr. John Williams, The Trial

[95] Sophocles tr. Theodore Howard Banks, Oedipus the King

[96] Quentin Tarantino, Pulp Fiction

[97] Patrick Rosal, Learning to Slaughter

[98] John Berger, And Our Faces, My Heart, Brief as Photos

[99] Brad Bird, The Incredibles

[100] Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club

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