Silences as a mark of respect are becoming more common. What is the history of respectful silence? See below...
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A Personal Note (Archive)
November 23, 2015
Sadly there have been plenty of silences lately, to show respect to the victims of various tragedies. But why silences, and why are they becoming more widely used? Silence as a mark of public respect appears to have originated in the early twentieth century. The death of Edward VII was marked by a minute's silence, as was news of the sinking of the Titanic in 1912. But it was the creation of Remembrance Day in 1919 which really established silence as a public ceremony. While silence was a way of showing respect, it was also a powerful expression of unity and conformity. In a sea of silent people, anyone talking or moving about immediately stands out in the most dramatic way possible, and feels an overwhelming pressure to join in. Unity was a major concern following the end of World War I. Many thousands of traumatised and often angry soldiers were returning home to lives that had been profoundly disrupted. Following the Communist coup in Russia there were also revolutionary ideas in the air. When Remembrance Day was established in 1919, silence was used as a powerful display of solidarity. Today unity remains a difficult issue, which perhaps makes it no surprise that silences are used more frequently.
Historical news for November
The Turbine Hall at the Tate Modern is currently hosting Abraham Cruzvillegas's Empty Lot. This display consists of a geometric sculpture containing soil from parks all across London. Nothing has been planted in the soil, and the only intervention over the next six months will be to provide light and water. For more information go to http://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-modern/exhibition/
The Design Museum is staging an exhibition this month dedicated to cycle design. The display will include the 2015 Hour Record bike ridden by Bradley Wiggins, a number of Team Sky's Pinarellos from the 2015 Tour de France, and the earliest prototype Brompton. For more information go to https://designmuseum.org/exhibitions/future-exhibitions/cycle-revolution
Anniversaries for November
3rd November 1973: Mariner 10 is launched by NASA. In March of the following year, Mariner 10 would be the first space probe to reach Mercury.
4th November 1960: Researcher Dr. Jane Goodall at Tanzania's Kasajela Chimpanzee Community observes a chimpanzee using a grass stalk to extract termites from a termite mound. This is the first recorded tool use by an animal.
11th November 1620: The first governing document of the Plymouth Colony, known as the Mayflower Compact is signed aboard the Mayflower in today's Provincetown Harbour.
15th November 1708: William Pitt is born at Golden Square, Westminster. Pitt would go on to become secretary of state, and an aggressive supporter of British overseas expansion in the mid eighteenth century.
16th November 1904: John Ambrose Fleming patents the vacuum tube, which would become a basic component of electronic devices in the first half of the twentieth century.
29th November 1877: The inventor Thomas Edison demonstrates his phonograph machine for the first time.
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Thank you to photo contributors Danielle Davis, Jean Edwards, Vicky Eagle of Portsmouth Dockyard, Kevin Edwards, Derick Fusco, Julian Jones, Richard Jones, Jackie Lewis, Debbie Lowless, Judy Mills of the Corinium Museum, Jane Barron of the World Rugby Museum, and Susan Stuart of Old Spitalfields Market.