Q: You often use silence as a device of terror, a ‘virus’, as you call it, which breaks down characters into meaningless ciphers. What does this silence represent?

A: I don’t think of silence as being a device of terror at all. In fact, quite the contrary. Silence is only frightening to people who are compulsively verbalizing. As you know they have these sense-withdrawal chambers and immersion chambers; there’s one at the University of Oklahoma. Well, they put Marines in there, and they’d be absolutely out of their minds in about ten minutes, they could not endure the silence and solitude because of the inner contradictions which words cover; but Gerald Heard got in there with a full dose of LSD and stayed three hours. Personally I find nothing upsetting about silence at all. In fact it can’t get too quiet for me. I would say that silence is only a device of terror for compulsive verbalizers…

The Job. Interview with William Burroughs

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