Be heard or die trying: There’s nothing humble about keeping quiet

People will forgive anything but a person speaking out. In our culture, humility is equated with silence.

For the poet, the artist, the bohemian, however, the most humble thing you can do is raise your voice.

Of course the height of stupidity is talking without having anything to say. But in our culture that’s fine. That’s humble, because it doesn’t make anyone insecure.


The minute you start to make sense, or have anything resembling a coherent world view, people will resent you and hate you and do all they can to put you back in your place.

Being an artist requires that if something is said, there must be a process at work. You are always working to distill the inner voice in the outer song, the outburst.

The creative noise of the fearless artist is no more narcissistic or vain than the robin’s song, or the trumpeting wind in the trees.

Those who would call someone raising their voice and making themselves heard narcissistic or pathological, are those who despise nature, and despise God.

They may consume art like a drug, a distraction. They may walk in nature seeking an emotional certainty.

But they are the enemies of life. They hate the crooked bark, the dark woodland hush. They are philistines.

So they have to call you arrogant. They have to call you vain. They have to reduce your creative courage to self-obsession, because they cannot match that emotional fearlessness.

I repeat – to be able to speak out, you must be able to listen within. This is what the philistines can’t understand.

In recent months I have been reassessing the idea of success. I always used to say it was about being free, creative, passionate etc.

But I was still harbouring, and still harbour, the Hollywood image, the status of wealth and power.

However, as I get older, I realise that these things, even when achieved, are almost impossible to sustain.

The only form of success I can conceive of, that can be sustained day-to-day, regardless of opinions, smirking comments or backhanded put-downs – is the freedom to listen within.

Inner listening is the artist’s craft. And for that, we must be ready to put away “work”. We must be ready to appear lazy and useless.

Like that Dylan line – “he’s sure gotta lot gall, to be so useless and all…”

Being successful for me is being able get up each day and have the freedom to listen to that voice. And that means that what modernity tells me is successful, is the enemy of the spirit, the enemy of creative thinking, and therefore the enemy of human individuality and flourishing.

Your only duty is to go within, and listen. But the listening would be pointless without communication.

Let the spirit give your tongues utterance. Listen to the rushing winds. Do your duty.

There’s is nothing sage-like about silence, for silence’s sake. There is nothing superior about holding your tongue.

There is nothing more narcissistic than neglecting your talents, or failing to discover your talents for fear of seeming vain.

The real vanity lies in not taking the risk of ridicule. The real arrogance is in thinking you don’t have a duty to communicate the voice of your soul to others.

Yes, we live in an age of saturated culture. Yes, many people are talking and there are few arenas left to discover.

But just because there is so much senseless noise doesn’t immediately imply a need for no noise at all.

We don’t have too much culture, we have too much fruitless culture. The seed is scattered on the rocks.

What we need is good sense, fearless songs that free the spirit of life from the predictable and generic.

The point is not the seek beauty through perfection. But to unleash beauty as we falter.

There is nothing humble about keeping your mouth shut. There is no virtue in staying quiet.

The humble voice is the voice that obeys an inner calling.

And all you who think this is posturing, are the enemy, the philistines.

You make your neurosis a virtue, and your silence wisdom. Of course you do.


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