14th December 2003 | Draft
Varieties of the "Unsaid"
in sustaining psycho-social community
- / -
Annex to Global
Strategic Implications of the "Unsaid": from myth-making towards a
The "unsaid" in politics and international relations
The "unsaid" in social systems
The "unsaid" in security and the "war against
The "unsaid" in business and the corporate world
The "unsaid" in the legal system
The "unsaid" in psychoanalysis and psychotherapy
The "unsaid" in personal relationships
The "unsaid" in the arts and aesthetics
The "unsaid" in philosophy and theology
The "unsaid" in research
Variants of the "unsaid" from other cultures
Implicit and unstated obligations
Implicit requirements for respect
Hidden agendas and conspiracy theories
Deception and lies
Secrecy and codes of slence
Ignorance, unknowing and nescience
Via negativa and mysticism
The unmentionable and the unsayable
Unasked and unanswered questions
Repression of memory
Open secret: partial acknowledgement of the "unsaid"
Denial of the "unsaid"
The following sections explore various threads relating to the "unsaid"
that might be usefully interwoven.
The "unsaid" in politics and international
The term is frequently applied in evaluating an address by a politician --
and most notably in relation to any justification for the war on terrorism (for
example, E J Dionne's commentary, President's
speech on Iraq left too much unsaid: Little candor about who will pay.
Concord Monitor, 10 September 2003).
The term may be used with reference to a highly asymmetric relationship between
political factions or governments, such as the assumption of the equality of
the largest and smaller member states of the United Nations.
With respect to the major UNCED Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, 1992, one critique
was expressed under the heading of the Unsaid
Summit. To what extent are intergovernmental initiatives systematically
undermined by the unpublicized creation of bodies like the secret "Brussels
group" of governments (Belgium, Germany, Italy, UK, USA) in 1971, with the objective
of limiting the effectiveness of the UN environment conference that created
UNEP (New Scientist, 5 January 2002) (more)?
There is an extensive literature on the "implicit assumptions" associated
with international relations (see K.M. Fierke. Links
Across the Abyss: Language and Logic in International Relations. International
Studies Quarterly, 46, 3, September 2002 Thinking
About Thinking. Center for the Study of Intelligence, Central Intelligence
Agency 1999 ). Implicit assumptions undergird the different ways in which peace
is conceptualized, and these assumptions impact on the effectiveness of various
strategies developed for realizing peace [more].
Iver B. Neumann (The
Double Arrival of Russia in International Society International Studies
Association, New Orleans 2002) has explored the role of the "implicit"
in relation to the corps diplomatique:
The area of the corps diplomatique or society of diplomats at the
court of a specific sovereign may serve as an example. It is true and central
that, with the institutional breakthrough of the doyen, the representatives
of sovereigns no longer needed to bustle for pride of place at every single
function that they attended. Instead, one agreed on a technical solution to
the question of precedence, so that pride of place was given to the longest-serving
diplomat. But this, of course, in no way implied that questions of prestige
emerged altogether. They were still tangible though often implicit facts of
the informal social life of the corps diplomatique. To pick another
example, with the expansion of international society, the question of a 'standard
of civilisation' quickly gained a central place in international law as a
prerequisite of rights. Of course, the fact that it had not been formally
central to international law before that time, did not mean that it had not
been implicitly present.
The "unsaid" is often articulated in the political sphere in terms
A useful discussion of the "unsaid" within the context of the French political system -- and with implications for global governance -- is provided in relation to the accusations against Dominque Strauss-Kahn. Director of the International Monetary Fund and potential French presidential candidate (Angelique Christakis, France questions itself over Dominique Strauss-Kahn's 'open secret', The Guardian, 17 May 2011):
Everyone in French political and media circles knew Strauss-Kahn's achilles heel was his attitude to women. Even his closest political allies admitted he was an inveterate seducer, an unashamed libertine.... It raises the uncomfortable question in the French media and politics of two parallel worlds: what is printed, and what is behind it, gossip, and what must officially remain "unsaid".
Johan Galtung (US "Negotiation" Style -- and the six-party
talks over over Korea, 2007) clearly identifies a policy of secrecy
So there has to be a back channel. And it has to be secret that The
Extraordinary One engages in such ordinary activities as negotiations;
willingness to meet, yes, but with no details. The extent to which
this happens is unknown. But some rules can be surmised from the Cuban
missile crisis, the Vietnam war, Iran-hostages, Iraq I-Kuwait, Iraq
II-Saddam and Iran-nuclear:
-- keep negotiations secret, not necessarily that they take place
but what is on the table;
-- give the impression that the talks are about face-to-face communication
of the US stand, supplemented by threat and possibly "incentives",
little or no mention of any quid pro quo;
-- keep what the Other demands and/or offers secret or general, referred
to as rhetorical, efforts to deflect the issue, etc;
-- present agreement and compliance by Other as a triumph for US diplomacy,
keep any quid pro quo secret;
-- present non-agreement and non-compliance by Other as proof that
Other does not want any agreement = peace;-- conceal, play down US
non-compliance, put all burden on Other;
-- make the media willing parties through access to sources, stories
and embedded journalism, and censorship if needed.
There is also a case for recognizing the extent to which relations within
the international system are based on patterns of agreement and understanding
-- the "giving of one's word". Reneging on such agreements, and derogating
from treaties, may be seen as a form of "unsaying" of what has been
said and agreed. The "unsaid" may then be seen as the result of the
increasing practice of governments, notably the USA, to set aside international
A related phenomenon of "unspeak" --
a mode of speech that "persuades by stealth" -- has been documented by Steven
Poole (Unspeak, 2006), notably
as a means whereby government its policy behind its language:
What is unspeak? It represents an attempt to say something without saying
it, without getting into an argument and so having to justify itself. At
the same time, it tries to unspeak - in the sense of erasing, or silencing
- any possible opposing point of view, by laying a claim right at the start
to only one way of looking at a problem.(War
of the words, The Guardian,
18 February 2006)
The Unconscious Civilization
|Who among the leaders of our elites does not fear living with the conscious
realization that they do not know? John Ralston Saul, 1995
The "unsaid" in social systems
Aspects of the "unsaid", as experienced by many in social and political
relations, have been usefully characterized by Johan Galtung under the term
structural violence -- an unacknowledged form of violence that harms through
social structures that produce poverty, death and enormous suffering. Structural
violence may be political, repressive, economic and exploitative, it occurs
when the social order directly or indirectly causes human suffering and death.
[more | more].
It is the causing of harm by inflexibility and rigidity of the rules of the
structure in dealing with difference -- without any given perpetrator, by the
holding do rules that do not allow for differences [more].
For Susan James (Structural
violence: the invisible violence in our communities, 2001) structural
violence differs from the other types of violence in that power relations within
structural violence are less visible and exist in various forms infused in the
existing social hierarchies. For Robert Gilman (Structural
Violence Can we find genuine peace in a world with inequitable distribution
of wealth among nations?, 1983) its essence lies in the "the ease
with which we acquiesce in injustice -- the way we all too easily look in the
other direction and disclaim "response ability."
With respect to politicized issues, for example, Dave Duffy (Something
unsaid about Timothy McVeigh's execution, 1998) writes:
Now that McVeigh is about to be executed on closed-circuit TV in the first
federal execution in 38 years, there is relative silence on the Internet.
Very little e-mail, very little discussion pro or con. Why is that? We can't
quite put our finger on it, can we, or we dare not express the horror in our
heart at the coming moment, and the implications for freedom in this country.
The notion in some countries, especially the USA, of the "silent majority"
may reflect an unexpressed aspect of public opinion. The voices of women may
often be seen as smothered behind a wall of silence, even in industrialized
countries (see Sandra Buckley Broken
Silence: Voices of Japanese Feminism. 1997). A culture of silence at
work, whereby conflicts are effectively silenced, can prove highly destructive
to the organization (see The
trouble with silence at work. Christian Science Monitor, 14 October
business, silence is not golden. Harvard Business Review, 3 September
Perhaps the most problematic forms of the "unsaid" arise from the
fundamental arrogance with which some people, groups, nations or cultures view
themselves as inherently and unquestionably superior to others -- as übermensch
of some kind -- notably from a genetic, spiritual, or aesthetic perspective.
Under the guise of human equality this cannot be "said", but this
innate arrogance is a prime determining factor in social relations. This was
the case with Nazi Germany, it remains the case for those peoples who consider
themselves specially chosen by God (as repeatedly articulated by Johan Galtung).
Any challenge to this is immediately conflated with a direct attack on their
human rights -- to be resisted violently. Thus even the nature of this dynamic
is absorbed into the zone of the "unsaid". Such attitudes underlie
the persistence of the class system, notably governing selection of marriage
partners. They underlie relations between government representatives and those
of nongovernmental bodies. They ensure the marginalization of certain peoples
such as the gypsies, indigenous groups, and the Ainu.
The "unsaid" in security and the "war against
The challenge of the "unsaid" in relation to security lies in how
to prove or disprove any assertion or claim in a context of secrecy and deniable
culpability (see Mapping
the Network of Terror, 2002). How, for example, is it to be proven whether
a sequence of events (such as the following) is the responsibility of an independent
"terrorist group" such as "al-Qaida"? There is a demonstrated
willingness of governments to act through subterfuge in defiance of international
law (as conceded by Richard
Perle with regard to Iraq, or in the case of the Anglo-French Suez
invasion) to the point of planning for the loss of life of their own citizens
(as in the proposal by the US Joint Chiefs of Staff for Operation
Northwoods to engage in activities such as assassination, hijacking airplanes,
blowing up ships, orchestrating violent terrorism in cities of the USA -- in
order to pin the blame on opponents). In such a context, who could demonstrate
that the following sequence had not been masterminded by a (rogue) security
agency of a government whose strategic interests would be protected or advanced
by focusing attention on such events (and away from other situations)?:
- detect strategic opportunity (or threat)
- manipulate pro-terrorist group or rogue security unit
- explode bomb or take advantage of any disastrous incident
- claim to detect that the incident has "all the markings of al-Qaida"
- attribute incident to "al-Qaida" in official public announcements
and encourage such attributions by the media (omitting any use of pre-trial
precautions such as "allegedly", ignoring accusations of "contempt
of court") [more
- arrange for possible claim/endorsement for the attack over phone/video from
"al-Qaida" or a "pro-terrorist movement" (or from "Osama
bin Laden" or "Saddam Hussein" ("former" CIA agents))
- whip up media on issue of loyalty and "fighting terror to the end"
- arrest "terrorist suspects" for interrogation (including those
it is politically convenient to frame as "terrorists")
- ensure robust "interrogations" to produce appropriate "confessions",
possibly with the assistance of false memory implantation (ignoring claims
- fail to release any hard evidence obtained from suspects -- "because
of the grave threat to national security"
- seclude suspects indefinitely beyond reach of judicial due process -- whilst
claiming to be acting in defence of human rights
- prevent access of defence lawyers to other suspects potentially able to
offer exonerating evidence -- claiming that such rights "hinder ongoing
interrogation efforts of other suspects"
- discredit independent critics as misguided (or traitors) -- perhaps later
to be reframed as "terrorist suspects" and kidnapped for interrogation
- use confusion to justify and ensure greater control of resources (such as
- promote more repressive legislation
- frame any collateral damage as "destruction of terrorist strongholds"
and "response to terrorist suspects resisting arrest"
- await (or provoke) next strategic opportunity
In this context the nature of the shadowy "al-Qaida" itself becomes
the "unsaid". As with any bogeyman, maintaining its shadowy, menacing
nature in the eyes of public opinion may serve both its adherents and those
whose position is reinforced by fear-mongering. Substantive proof cannot be
credibly supplied -- only devastating bombs whose purpose can be variously interpreted,
irrespective of the specific false "claims" of responsibility (typical
of many crimes). Even professionals in the intelligence community may be confused
by the shadowy quality of the evidence on offer and may mistakenly infer the
existence of "missing links" to complete the desired chain of evidence
(see also Groupthink:
the Search for Archaeoraptor as a Metaphoric Tale: missing the link between
"freedom fighters" and "terrorists", 2002)
The status of the "unsaid" has also been admirably illustrated by
US Defense Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld (DoD
News, 12 February 2002):
Reports that say that something hasn't happened are always interesting to
me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we
know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there
are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns -- the
ones we don't know we don't know. And if one looks throughout the history
of our country and other free countries, it is the latter category that tend
to be the difficult ones
This much-cited remark has been reviewed in the light of its inadvertent wisdom
(see Philip Stephens. The unwitting wisdom of Rumsfeld's unknowns. Financial
Times, 12 December 2003). Whilst acknowledging that "The chaos in Iraq
testifies to what happens when politicians substitute hubris for intelligent
thought" he acknowledges the merits of Rumsfeld's statement: "Sometimes
we can be certain about things; sometimes we know the direction to take but
are aware of gaps in our knowledge; and sometimes we just stumble around in
the dark". According to Stephens, compounding Rumsfeld's error in ignoring
his own advice, his unstated error is his assumption that the present can be
readily projected into the future.
The "unsaid" in business and the corporate world
John Ralston Saul (The Unconscious Civilization, 1995) provides
a classic example:
Criticism is perhaps the citizen's primary werapon in the exercise of her
legitimacy. That is why, in this corporatist society, conformism, loyalty
and silence are so admired and rewarded; why criticism is so punished or
marginalized.... In one eloquent example which has recently come to light,
the executives of a major American tobacco company debated among themselves
at great length, in the 1960s, whether they should inform the U.S. Surgeon
General of the results of their own corporate research, which confirmed the
health hazards of smoking. They decided, eventually, to say nothing and to
stop work on a safer cigarette. After all, to develop a safer cigarette would
compromise their silence by suggesting the need for one. Instead, they initiated
a legal and public relations strategy of admitting nothing.
The "unsaid" in the legal system
Democratic countries pride themselves on their legal systems and consider that
any miscarriages of justice are merely unfortunate exceptions. The systemic
defects pass unnoticed -- except by those difectly exposed to them -- and are
not a matter of public debate. The extent to which this situation has gone unacknowledged
in an industrialized country such as the UK, for example, has been usefully
and extensively analyzed by Nick Davies (How
a judge's death in country garden exposed fatal flaws in system, Guardian,
13 December 2003):
The Guardian's investigation into the criminal justice system has
shown how the policing of volume crime is failing on a spectacular scale --
bringing to justice only 3% of offences -- fundamentally because it relies
on the antique and failed tools of arrest and trial and punishment....
Each of these failures has its own detail and yet all of them spring from
a common source: our systems for detecting and dealing with serious crime
are unreliable. Sometimes they succeed but then again they fail, because,
oddly, we do not train our detectives to detect; or because we now filter
our forensic science through a privatised marketplace; or because we have
left the most important decisions about death in the hands of coroners with
ancient and arbitrary powers; or because, when things go wrong, we still rely
on some of the most powerful institutions in the country to arbitrate on their
own behaviour. Systems like these invite the manufacture of false evidence,
they provoke guesswork and phoney logic, they stimulate the crudest of prejudices,
because they fail consistently to deliver the most important element in any
criminal justice system, which is the truth. It can happen even to a judge.
The prevailing situation in many other countries falls within the zone of the
"unsaid". In the same period the unacknowledged pattern of treatment
accorded prisoners in the UK by prison officers was the subject of a further
report by Vikram Dodd (Brutality
of prison officers exposed, Guardian, 11 December 2003):
The Prison Service has admitted that its officers subjected inmates to sustained
beatings, mock executions, death threats, choking and torrents of racist abuse,
the Guardian has learned....The Prison Service has also admitted that senior
officials in the jail and in management failed to investigate the assaults
properly. Inmates who tried to complain were threatened and beaten to keep
The "unsaid" in psychoanalysis and psychotherapy
In many respects, psychoanalysis is primarily concerned with the "unsaid" and
the silences of discourse (for example, H Levitt. The unsaid in the narrative:
Understanding silences in psychotherapy. 1997). As noted by Alfred Margulies
on Poland's "The Analyst's Witnessing And Otherness". Journal of
the American Psychoanalytic Association 48/1)
We are, of course, constantly up against our limits of articulation: Gadamer
referred to "the infinity of the unsaid" surrounding our words; Hans Lipps
to the "the circle of the unexpressed" (Gadamer 1976, p. xxxii). Moreover,
this circle of the unsaid compounds itself relationally, in discourse: Gadamer
(1976, p. 17) calls it the "infinity of the dialogue"-- the ongoing conversation
that is only interrupted, never concluded. And so too with the psychoanalytic
situation: both analyst and analysand actively engage their inarticulateness,
ask themselves to express not-fully-known experience in an attempt that can
only partially succeed, and one that never really stops. The psychoanalytic
witness, then, functions as a special, designated Other, a bearer of, a placeholder
for, that which is not fully speakable.
The secret quality of the preoccupations of psychoanalysis are reflected in
interesting ways in the institutional secrecy of its origins, as explored by
Paulo Soroka. (The said and the
unsaid: Secret structures and ideology in psychoanalytic institutions.
Revista Brasileira de Psicanalise, 5, 2001, 4), notably its "Secret
For L A Kirshner (The concept of the self in psychoanalytic theory and its
philosophical foundations. Journal of the American Psychoanalytical Assocation,
39, 1991, 181):
...for the psychoanalyst, the sense of self - subjectivity - does not derive
from a hidden inner structure or entity but is constructed in an ongoing dialogue
with otherness, including both the unsymbolized unconscious within, and other
subjects who listen or speak... The speaking subject... always overflows his immediate
constructions of self, which as 'incomplete texts' constantly refer to what
is unsaid or unthought. It is as if the speaking analysand constantly attempts
to enlarge and reestablish his 'I'... While the analyst cannot restore or bestow
this virtual 'self,' by his nonobjectifying stance, he recognizes the desire
'where id was, there ego shall be' (Freud, 1933)...
The "unsaid" may also be understood from the perspective of depth
psychology as the "shadow". This is the archetypal scapegoat present
in everyone -- that unacknowledgedf part of the psyche normally the focus of
blame or attack when the individual feels it necessary to vindicate some action
or behaviour. It is not normally recognized as part of the self and thus the
blame or attack is usually received by someone else who has sparked off the
disquieting view of the shadow. It is postulated that the inability to accept
that the "enemy" is in fact one's own lower nature is the cause of all bias,
discrimination and conflict. Acknowledgement of the collective shadow might
well prevent nationalistic or racialistic over-reactions to atrocities and barbarism
which effectively are merely responding in kind. By accepting that everyone,
as a human being, holds within a collective responsibility for every development
may well be the key to the next stage in human evolution
Recalling Donald Rumsfeld's insight (above), psychotherapist R. D. Laing (Knots,
1970) made a strong point about the experience of the "unsaid" in
the form of a much-cited poem which included the lines:
If I don't know I don't know
I think I know
If I don't know I know
I think I don't know
The "unsaid" in personal relationships
The notion of the "unsaid" may be applied to relationships, especially
those that stretch the conventions of a particular society. Thus it may apply
to cases where people have a romantic "understanding" that is not
expressed in words. This may also apply in the case of homosexual relationships
(for example, in Duy Nguyen's play Things
Unsaid). Sensitive issues may be avoided for years. Silence of one form
of another may undermine relationships (see Silence
about sexual problems can hurt relationships, 1999) or be significant
in defining a relationship (see Arad Nir. Relationships
as commitment devices: Strategic silence, 2002). It is a major issue
in relationship to undisclosed domestic violence [more].
Silence may then itself be a form of abuse according to Paul Brandis (Silence:
Is It Abuse?).
Studies of communication have established that a very significant proportion
of meaning is conveyed non-verbally, notably through body language (for example
John Bittleston: What's
left unsaid: Body language says a lot about a person if you know how to read
it properly. 4 July 2003).
The anthropologist Bronislaw Malinowski distinguished phatic communication
from ideational communication, although their respective success may be mutually
dependent. Phatic communication makes use of conventional messages (notably
at the beginning and the end of a conversation) to establish rapport and community.
This may include hugging, kissing, shaking hands, bowing, smiling, making eye
contact, and facing one another. Cliches may be used to exchange pleasantries
-- having essentially lost their content they take on new relational meanings.
In such communication, what is important is not what is said. (see V Zegarac,
At a particular moment in group processes, something may best be left unsaid
knowing that later it will be said. In group creativity processes, if an idea
is criticized too early it will be suppressed and often all new ideas will become
unmentionable. Although the criticism may be valid -- the idea may be worth
pursuing for a while before it is criticized.
The "unsaid" in the arts and aesthetics
By leaving things unsaid or unseen in art the hearer or viewer must construct
their own reality creating a richness far beyond what the artist could do. The
process of artistic creativity is often accompanied by a marked reluctance to
discuss or show the work before its completion.
(a) Poetry: The "unsaid" features in a number of titles of poems (for
example, Dana Gioia,
and Rick Paul, Emily Guenther,
Michaelette L. Romano).
For Louise Glück (Disruption, Hesitation, Silence, In: Proofs and Theories:
Essays on Poetry, 1994) aesthetics is rooted in a sense of a work of art as
provocatively unfinished. Poets including Rilke, Berryman, Oppen and Eliot can
then be understood as practitioners of "not saying," of leaving out so as to
I am attracted to ellipsis, to the unsaid, to suggestion, to eloquent, deliberate
silence. The unsaid, for me, exerts great power: often I wish an entire poem
could be made in this vocabulary. ... It seems to me that what is wanted, in
art, is to harness the power of the unfinished. All earthly experience is
partial. Not simply because it is subjective, but because that which we do
not know, of the universe, of mortality, is so much more vast than that which
we do know. What is unfinished or has been destroyed participates in these
mysteries. The problem is to make a whole that does not forfeit this power.
The "unsaid" has a special relationship to what is "said"
through a poem. There is a sense in which significance remains unexpressed or
"unsaid" until it can be expressed aesthetically in poetic form. It
then "makes no sense" and remains "unsaid" until it rhymes
within an appropriate metric. The higher orders of significance-- or wisdom
-- appears to call for aesthetic expression and require it for successful communication.
Rather than rhyme, the emphasis may be on respecting a particular metric (as
in haiku) to render it memorable. In this sense the unmemorable effectively
In this context it is intriguing how socio-political reality is made and unmade
by rhyme. The challenge is most readily seen in the use of rap as a form of
coherent expression emerging from the slums of the most industrialized country.
Political protest is frequently articulated through rhyming slogans, chants
and song -- as was the case with Vietnam, and now with Iraq. War chants have
a long tradition. The political will is in this sense unexpressed -- "unsaid"
-- until it takes rhyming form.
Given the importance of this form to cultural identity in the case of epic
La Divina Commedia,
it is surprising how fundamentally unaesthetic are the major strategic constructions
of modern civilization: political manifestos, constitutions of nations, charters
of intergovernmental organizations, universal declarations, and global plans
of action. It is no wonder that statements such as the Earth Summit's Agenda
21 do not engender the political will to change. The intentionality
they seek to express remains effectively "unsaid". It can be argued
that until political action can be articulated through rhyme and metre it will
remain incoherent, unmemorable and ineffectual (see Structuring
Mnemonic Encoding of Development Plans and Ethical Charters using Musical Leitmotivs,
2001; also Knowledge
Gardening through Music: patterns of coherence for future African management
as an alternative to Project Logic, 2000).
In the light of this claim, it might be useful to explore questionable cases
where some attempt has been made towards coopting aesthetic expression to articulate
values and a sense of direction: political parties, communist regimes, national
socialist regimes (notably Goebbels), and other national movements. Poems have
been used at the inauguration of some US presidents: Robert Frost (The
Gift Outright) at the 1961 inauguration of John Kennedy; Maya Angelou
(The Rock Cries
Out To Us Today) at the inauguration of Bill Clinton in 1993; Miller
Williams (Of History
and Hope) at Clinton's 1997 inaugural. What remains "unsaid"
in these cases might be contrasted with what is "said" at events such
as the Eisteddfod Genedlaethol Frenhinol
Cymru (Royal National Eisteddfod of Wales) [more]
with its explicit druidic traditions [more]
-- and the socio-political significance that carries.
Such ceremonies are valued when they are aesthetically "magical".
But they may also be understood as modern echoes of traditional magical operations.
They are in part designed to "cast a spell" -- now known in its most
degraded form in the commercial advertising jingle. Inauguration, or explication,
of a pattern of action through a manifesto, declaration or legal constitution
can be understood as the grounding "Word" articulating a new reality
-- but as such it is also a "spell", a "making", and a drive
to action. In this sense, the "unsaid" is both the strategic intent
and potential, which has not yet been given appropriate form -- as well as any
form which has effectively been displaced or "unmade". In some cultures,
such as that of the Australian Aborigines, psycho-social reality is "sung"
into being and sustained through such "song". But it can also be "unsung"
and "unmade". Historically recent efforts by colonial powers and their
religions to suppress systematically the traditional modes of aesthetic expression
can be seen as efforts to "unmake" traditional cultures and collective
identities. They were forbidden from singing their songs.
Individual identity can also be understood as driven to self-expression --
to "make a statement", or to "say" something. Unless that
expression has an aesthetic dimension (style, look, etc), the identity may be
felt to be unexpressed, unstated, inadequate and "unsaid". It is in
this context that character assassination and identity theft can be usefully
explored. Whilst personalities may be "built up" and heroes may indeed
be "sung", the reputation and integrity of others may be destroyed,
"unsung" and "unsaid". They then have no "song".
These aesthetic considerations raise the question of the nature of the higher
order of meaning or identity with which they are associated. What is the additional
meaning carried by rhyme? Is it an articulation of the semantic links -- the
systemic pathways -- that constitute Gregory Bateson's famous "pattern
that connects"? This can be explored in relation to the Chinese classical
poem the Tao Te Ching (see also Hyperspace
Clues to the Psychology of the Pattern that Connects in the light of the 81
Tao Te Ching Insights, 2003). Are rhymes effectively a fundamental feature
of patterns of identity in a psycho-cultural pattern language? It would appear
that their quality of resonance and aesthetic "goodness of fit" are
vital to psycho-social architecture. What then if they are unexpressed -- "unsaid"?
(b) Literature: Massimo Lollini (Literature
and Testimony in Gramsci's Letters from Prison: The question of Subjectivity)
The meaning of life can be found in literature, not in life itself. Literature
and memory can provide one's own life with a sense of full identity, but Gramsci
invites the reader to consider that any narrative, even direct narrative like
that provided by his letter writing, always has a highly problematic relationship
with real life. Through the very structure of irony the reader is forced to
recognize not only the existence of the unsaid within the text, but also to
see how the linguistic structure of representation grounds the said in the
unsaid, making the unsaid the essential element of discourse.
A critique (In
Custody of the Unsaid) of Anita Desai's novel In Custody, suggests
that the "unsaid" functions to create meaning in the otherwise meaningless life
of her character. By setting up a more concrete binary of meaning and the meaningless,
the "unsaid" forces the reader to reevaluate the purpose of communication in an
(c) Visual arts: The role of the unstated is particularly evident in
the use of shadow effects in Japanese interior decoration. Louise Glück
also suggests of the "unsaid":
It is analogous to the unseen for example, to the power of ruins, to works
of art either damaged or incomplete. Such works inevitably allude to larger
contexts; they haunt because they are not whole, though wholeness is implied:
another time, a world in which they were whole, or were to have been whole,
is implied. There is no moment in which their first home is felt to be the
(d) Media: The term "unsaid" is used as a name for a popular
musical group and for a film.
The "unsaid" in philosophy and theology
The "unsaid" in philosophy takes the form of presuppositions, namely
whatever hides behind the statements of philosophers or their methods. The greatest
"unsaid" is perhaps that in philosophy reason accounts for everything.
And yet never is will mentioned as trainable in decision making, although it
is the will that makes decisions, not reason. Also "unsaid" is that
reason reduces complex situations into veridical ones (of the simplistic form:
yes/no, good/bad, true/false, etc.). Also unrecognized is the extent to which
human faculties such as remembering and imagining have been systematically suppressed
in the educated Westerner, and variously distorted in others through the colonialism
of the English language ( see Antonio de Nicolas. Habits of Mind: An Introduction
to Clinical Philosophy, 2000).
Daniel Fidel Ferrer (Martin
Heidegger and the new other beginning (Anfang), 2003) comments on the
thinking of one philosopher who has been very attentive to the nature of the
Thinkers can try to over step their own limitations. Heidegger said, "This
again consists in the fact that the thinker can never himself say what is
most of all his own. It must remain unsaid, because the sayable (Word, German=Wort)
receives its determination from what is not sayable (inexpressible)" (Recollection
in Metaphysics, et. p. 77-78)...
What does this mean? Is this some sort of mysticism or it is just another
one of those connections between Heidegger and Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889-1951).
Heidegger is driving the point toward the "unsaid" which he uses as a way
to get at what thinkers were right on the edge of saying but did not actually
say. If we want to say what Heidegger or any other philosopher said, then
it is philology and not philosophy. If we want to have a live dialogue with
another thinker, another philosopher then we bring them into our thinking,
our dialogue, our critical confrontation and encounter with the issues for
thinking. Not as what is dead and long dead in a thinker, but rather to bring
their thinking in close with us. Heidegger wants us to think about the first
beginning and the new, other beginning; but we need to see what is also unsaid
in Heidegger's thinking. Heidegger started a movement away from the first
beginning which started with the Greeks and Platonism, and now on to a new
and entirely different beginning. How are these two beginnings related? What
is unsaid in Heidegger that points to this relationship? We are attempting
to bring out the unsaid in Heidegger and to name this relationship. Although
Heidegger is hesitant on this point because as he remarks, this is up to Being
and not in our "heads". The unsaid drives us to "speak" but in some ways there
are limitations on what we can say, because some part always remains unsaid
- we must always attempt to say the unsayable.
Clifton D. Healy (Deconstruction:
Derrida, Theology, and John of the Cross, 1994) argues that:
Theology is expressed in fallen language. Philosophy can never attain complete
knowledge. Therefore when it comes to God-talk, reverence and humility seem
the safest attitudes. Theology needs always to be in encounter with the unsaid,
even if only to contradict/correct the said. God is necessarily larger than
our understanding of him -- and certainly of our ability to speak accurately
In a remarkable study of silence, Ulrich Schmitz (Eloquent
silence, 1994) states:
Symbols can take the place of what is missing. There is even something to
take the place of missing symbols: silence becomes their sign. For this reason,
there is sometimes something violent about speaking in contrast to silence.
("the said must be torn from the unsaid", remarks Barthes (1985:318)
regarding the beginning of discourses, and Gadamer (1986:83-85) describes
philosophy as "continual suffering from a crisis of expression".)
But also for this reason, silence cannot be destroyed, despite Marquis de
Sade's program to the contrary (to say everything). "For everything could
not ever possibly be said." (Ortega y Gasset 1958:338)....
Silence is the path and the boundary between the conscious and the unconscious
mind. "Without a doubt, we must open our ears to the unsaid which rests
in the gaps in discourse; but this is not a matter of listening to someone
knocking on the other side of a wall." (Lacan 1973:152)....
More generally, the degree of ambiguity of a silence is inversely related
to the extent to which the context is decoded. If we know the whole context,
that is, the exact way in which the border between said and unsaid was drawn,
then we know the exact meaning of the individual silence....
"The magnificence of silence in interpersonal relationships is its very
ambiguity." (Arlow 1961:51) This observation, said or unsaid, runs through
the entire literature on silence....
When one disregards the single instance, that is, the profane, a theoretical
problem arises which is never really a problem in the practical use of language.
This is the problem of distinguishing between the said and the unsaid, the
sayable and the unsayable. At that very point where sacred and profane are
to be communicated, Denis Areopagite deals with it as a problem of a dual
tradition; on the one hand unsayable and inaccessible, on the other hand logical
An interesting analysis of philosophical presuppositions is that of W T Jones
Romantic Syndrome; toward a new methodology in cultural anthropology and the
history of ideas. 1961) who explores the unstated pre-logical biases
that determine the direction and structure of debate -- before anything is said
(see summary in Axes
of Bias in Inter-cultural Dialogue, 1993)
The "unsaid" in research
Institutionalized research is almost entitrely dependent on the "unsaid"
in that explicit reference can seldom be made to the conceptual implications
of the rationale of the ideologies through which research funding is approved.
Some disciplines have embodied the mindset of their funding sources to a degree
which isolates their discourse from those not dependent on such funding.
Increasingly comissioned research may have built into it the "unsaid"
requirement of producing the results desired by the sponsor as reinforcement
to their ideology and strategy.
Variants of the "unsaid" from other cultures
(a) Non-dit (French): The "non-dit" is a commonly used
French term applied both in the arts (for example, Stefan Pollan. How
to Say the Non-dit; Disclosing World in Neo-Realist Film. 1999), personal
relations, but especially in political and strategic analysis (for example,
Stéphane Rozès. Le
non-dit de la question sociale, 2003; Alberto B Mariantoni, et al. Le
non-dit du conflit israélo-arabe: les clés cachées du problème,
1997; or Abderahmane
Hadj Nacer on the origin of capital).
With respect to the strong position taken by Chirac and Schröder on Iraq
against the USA, the Nouvel Observateur (L'Irak:
la semaine du bras de fer, 13 février 2003) speaks, for example, of
the explosive nature of the "non-dit":
La question n'est pas seulement de méthode, puisqu'en moins d'une semaine
elle a conduit à des débordements insensés. On a vu de respectables ministres
américains invectiver leurs collègues européens, l'Europe se déchirer, l'Otan
se bloquer, le Conseil de Sécurité hésiter devant des choix impossibles. Curieuse
histoire révélatrice d'un non-dit explosif.
Jérome Frenkiel (La politique
du non-dit. 2002) argues:
La politique du non-dit est certainement commode, au sens où elle semble
dispenser les responsables politiques des arbitrages populaires toujours incertains.
Cependant, la politique reste la politique, et la démocratie impose un certani
niveau d'interactivité entre le peuple et le gouvernement. Ce n'est pas seulement
une question de principe : c'est aussi la garantie qu'une politique, si elle
est acceptée sur le principe, pourra être menée à son terme. Rien n'est plus
bête que de voir échouer une bonne réforme, simplement parce qu'on aura omis
de la préparer avec ceux qu'elle concerne... et de la présenter pour ce qu'elle
For Lucien Poirier (La
Crise des Fondements) of the Institut
de Stratégie Comparée:
Contrairement aux idées reçues, le débat stratégique a donc eu lieu en France.
Qu'il ait nourri les équivoques, que le non-dit ait brouillé la critique et
obscurci le discours, cela est indéniable.
Céline Gaudin (L'Eloge
du Vide) of the Institut d'Etudes Politiques, argues with respect to
the Japanese understanding of emptiness:
Il y a dans le vide, tel qu'il est pensé dans la culture nippone, un espace
qui n'est pas chaos. Le vide est élément d'un ordre global, admis, respecté,
bref apprivoisé. "Les parois irisées d'une bulle forment la bulle au même
titre que le vide qu'elle contient", selon Mishima qui modernise ici avec
bonheur l'exemple de la cruche immortalisée par Laotsé. Ainsi, un haïku porte
toujours en lui le silence, le non-dit, (la forme est pour le moins laconique)
mais ce vide nourrit le poème au même titre que ce qu'il dit explicitement.
Edmund Pascual (Le
pragmatique de l'échange diplomatique. International Conference
on Language and Diplomacy, Malta, 2001) reviews the role of the "non-dit"
in diplomatic speech, where he distinguishes between presupposition and sous-entendu:
Une autre approche de l'acte de parole consiste à s'interroger non seulement
sur ce qui est dit, sur la manière de le dire, mais aussi sur ce qui n'est
pas dit, et qui a parfois autant d'efficacité que ce qui est dit.
premier élément, qui est indispensable pour rendre efficace un acte de parole
dans une communication est la notion de présupposé. Les présupposés sont tous
les faits, les notions, les réalités que l'émetteur et le récepteur du message
ont en commun et qu'il n'est pas nécessaire de répéter ou de rappeler pour
que la communication ait lieu.
sous-entendu est, au contraire, le résultat d'une interprétation de ce qui
vient d'être dit. On peut considérer qu'il rejoint la notion d'acte perlocutoire
dans la mesure où il traduit une intentionnalité qui n'est pas clairement
affichée. On comprendra que cette nécessaire interprétation du sous-entendu
soit toujours plus ou moins aléatoire. Elle fait partie de ce que toute communication
comporte de problématique, de subjectif. Ne reposant sur l'examen d'aucun
trait objectif observable dans ce qui vient d'être dit elle est toujours sujette
à caution. Il n'est pas abusif de dire que le déchiffrage de la parole diplomatique
nécessite plus que toute autre un recours à l'interprétation des sous-entendus,
le danger étant qu'on en vienne au procès d'intention, qui attribue à l'interlocuteur
des intentions qu'il n'a pas.
The implication of the "non-dit" with respect to colonial
exploitation of North America is explored by Elise Marienstras (Le
Traité de Paris de septembre 1783: traité international ou naissance
d'une nation? 2001)
On verra surtout que s'amorcait dans le non-dit du traité une nouvelle
formule coloniale (la spoliation faite aux Indiens) dont ont oublie trop souvent
qu'elle fut elle-même le resultat de la première des indépendances
coloniales. Ce non-dit, il joua, non sans mal, mais à l'encontre de
toutes les valeurs proclamées, en faveur de la croissance de la jeune
nation dont l'avenir était déjà tracée dans les
trois étapes de sa naissance
With respect to the construction of the European Union, M. Arkoun (Pour
une politique de l'ésperance dans l'Union Européenne) argues
La construction en cours de l?Union européenne (U.E.) n'utilise pas encore
toutes les ressources historiques, scientifiques, philosophiques, spirituelles
dont elle dispose pour dépasser les préoccupations gestionnaires limitées
à l'espace européen. Il n'y a pas encore de discours européen capable de soulever
l'âme des peuples non seulement de l'Europe elle-même, mais également tous
les peuples de l'espace méditerranéen en quête de salut politique depuis 1945.
La responsabilité politique et culturelle de la nouvelle Europe (U. E.) ne
pourra être pleinement assumée que si la page coloniale et celles des Etats-nations
nés après les libérations des années 1950 sont écrites et vécues comme des
parcours historiques indissociables des souverainetés européennes depuis le
19e siècle. Nous sommes très loin de cette exigence qui est d'abord scientifique
et éducative puisqu'il s'agit de réécrire et d'enseigner une histoire jusqu'ici
fragmentée, idéologisée, travestie, refoulée dans le non dit, l'impensé, l'incompatible
aussi bien dans les discours officiels que ceux des historiographies nationales
qui nourrissent les manuels scolaires. Cet usage de l?histoire et des cultures
est largement confirmé par la prédominance des échanges polis, sentimentaux,
syncrétiques dans les dialogues des religions et des cultures.
And with respect to the emergence of a post-Kosovo, reframed version of NATO,
a text of the Institut de Stratégie
second système otanien verra-t-il le jour ?, 20 avril 1999) indicates:
Deuxième niveau, un reste de méfiance, plus ou moins sourde, que l'on s'efforce
pourtant de ne pas déclarer pour éviter de mettre en péril l'Europe commerciale,
financière, économique et monétaire. Mais le non-dit accumulé ne permet pas
de faire progresser ce qui ne peut et ne veut avancer de concert.
(b) Honne (Japanese): Considerable attention has been given to the contrast
in Japanese culture between "tatemae" as the explicit stated
reality of a situation, and "honne" as the unspoken reality
of that situation. The latter may be skillfully and deliberately concealed behind
a facade [more].
Honne is deep motive or intention, while tatemae refers to motives
or intentions that are socially-shaped, encouraged, or suppressed by majority
norms. The former would only be expressed privately (if at all), whereas the
latter may be expressed openly. Aspects of international relations have been
reviewed in the light of these contrasts. Covering up self-interest with lip
service is a global, time-honored tradition practiced by statesmen [more
According to Linus Hagström (Diverging
Accounts of Japanese Policymaking. European Institute of Japanese Studies,
Working Paper No. 102 September 2000):
The terms honne (real intention) and tatemae (open statement)
are mutually exclusive. Honne is the information that is left in the
background, and that is only accessible to those in whose personal interest
it is to keep it within their own group. Informal, if nonetheless institutionalized,
bargaining belongs in this category. Honne sometimes reveals itself
to the outside world by the eruption of a högen (irresponsible
utterance) or a shitsugen (slip of the tongue). The results of bargaining,
together with official documents, mostly represent tatemae. Tatemae
is thus what is openly shown.
To convey honne, the Japanese use a means of communication called
haragei or ishin-denshin (mind-to-mind communication)... Although
haragei implies saying one thing but meaning another...[it is claimed]
that those who understand Japanese culture will also understand the difference
(c) "Non detto" (Italian): According to Gianni Tibaldi (private communication)
the Roman Law connects the meanings of "unsaid" to the problem of "showing the
will". The will, in fact, may be:
- "shown" by behaviour (like "action") but not "expressed"
- expressed directly by words, signs or gestures
- "tacit", that is expressed indirectly by an attitude meaningful
- "implicit" when we are able to infer unequivocally the will from the content
of an expression that doesn't shows directly the will.
"Silence" is considered a lack of any form of expression, meaning an " absolute
void of will". Unless an agreement or a law attributes to the silence a meaning,
in which case the silence represents a form not of tacit but direct expression.
From a global-psychological context the meanings of "unsaid" and "silence" appear
broader. "Uusaid" then refers to a kind of action (negative) to which corresponds
the Latin word "tacere" that originally meaning "to hide" or "to secrete"
while the "silence" refers to a condition of quietness or noiseless. "Unsaid"
is a category of language; "silence" is a category of the body and the environment
(time and space). Both "unsaid" and "silence", in any case, belong to the communication
world and so the value and effectiveness of the messages depend not only on
the intention (conscious or unconscious) of the subject who expresses or is
silent, but on the disposition or attitude of the subject to whom the message
is addressed and whose interpretation is conclusive. Exactly for this raison
the Roman Law defines the "tacit expression" as a "conclusive attitude" .
As might be expected, Italian poetry also addresses the "unsaid"
poesia del non detto; Giuseppe Signorelli Non
detto e dintorni). With respect to humanism:
È quell'immensità di "non detto" che mi attira magneticamente da sempre,
come un pericoloso abisso di verità, che è mio compito esplorare. In quell'abisso
di "non detto" e "non scritto" sono sepolti gran parte dei pensieri, delle
parole, dei sentimenti delle donne: delle mie compagne. Quando penso a tutto
questo mi metto subito al computer e scrivo e scrivo, anche se sono cosciente
che quello che scrivo non potrà mai recuperare quel mare di silenzio che tace
nella mia anima, eredità di tutte le donne che sono state prima di me. (In
risposta a Perché non mi piace "Umanesimo", di Emilia Sonni Dolce)
And in the arts with respect to music: "L'attenzione fluttuante va affinata
in senso musicale per raccogliere le comunicazioni sonore ma non verbali che
veicolano preziosi frammenti di non detto" (see Antonio Di Benedetto. Prima
della parola: L'ascolto psicoanalitico del non detto attraverso le forme dell'arte)
With respect to secrecy (Mario Ricciardi. La
rilevanza etica del segreto):
Gli usi di 'segreto' cui indulgono alcuni per alludere a qualcosa di ineffabile,
impossibile da formulare, sono impropri e hanno al massimo una funzione evocativa.
Spesso chi confonde profondità e oscurità tende anche a confondere il non
detto nel senso di "ciò che non si vuole dire" col non detto perché non dicibile.
Un segreto è sempre "nei confronti" di qualcuno. Ciò detto, è il caso di precisare
che, perché possa esser tenuta segreta, non è necessario che la comunicazione
sia diretta a una persona in particolare.
(d) Other sources: "ungesagt" (German) notably explored
by Heidegger; "Offenes Geheimnis" (German); "non dice"
(Italian); "Secret de Polichinelle" (French).
(a) Tacit knowledge and implicit learning: Tacit knowledge has been
defined as that which enters into the production of behaviors and/or the constitution
of mental states but is not ordinarily accessible to consciousness. Tacit (silent)
knowledge (Polanyi, 1958/1974) and implicit learning (see Berry [ed.] 1997)
have in common the idea of not knowing what you do know or have learned. Although
the expression "tacit knowledge" appears to have been introduced by Polanyi
, the idea that certain cognitive processes and/or behaviours are undergirded
by operations inaccessible to consciousness -- by a cognitive unconscious, as
Reber (1995) calls it -- goes back at least as far as Helmholtz's work in the
19th century (Reber 1995, p. 15). A more recent and influential formulation
of this basic idea can be found in Lashley (1956). It has been claimed that
"tacit knowledge" has been all but hi-jacked by management gurus, who use it
to refer to the stock of expertise within an organization which is not written
down or even formally expressed, but may nevertheless be essential to its effective
(b) Traditional ecological knowledge (or TEK): This is a system of understanding
one's environment typical of indigenous peoples. As with tacit knowledge, it
may be characterized to a high degree by non-explicated, non-verbal "know-how"
rather than explicit "know-of". It is built over generations, as people
depend on the land and sea for their food, materials, and culture. TEK is based
on observations and experience, evaluated in light of what one has learned from
one's elders. People have relied on this detailed knowledge for their survival
-- they have literally staked their lives on its accuracy and repeatability.[more]
Implicit and unstated obligations
Relations between people may be characterized, or governed, by unstated obligations,
as indicated by these quotations:
It is the implicit obligations which sometimes are not voiced and which are
at least as important. These are in the realm of moral responsibility -- our
psychological contracts with one another. Here we enter the door to friendship
and love. There is the expectation that we will be honest with one another
so that trust can develop. There is the tenor of respect, of accepting one
another's differences. (On
In a collaborative partnership, any formal contractual obligations are supplemented
by a set of implicit obligations (e.g. the Gricean maxims [Grice, 1975]).
For example, it is implicitly assumed that a group of peers collaborating
on producing a poster will not hit each other! (Whether these obligations
are respected by all parties can be very problematic). (Models
While male persons acquire their identity as 'men' in some black South African
communities through circumcision, they acquire their masculinity--and through
this, their 'respect'--through sex. They also acquire a set of diffuse, usually
unstated, obligations to 'support' their woman by giving them gifts such as
clothes, food, and other benefits.[more]
These implicit obligations may be recognized during an adjudication process
as unexpressed terms of an agreement. Courts often determine that there are
implicit obligations between contracting parties that are not explicitly set
forth in writing. [more]
Of great importance in Japanese culture, is the unstated moral debt of gratitude
understood by the term giri -- whether in relationships such as master-subordinate,
parent-child, husband-wife, brothers-sisters, friends, and sometimes even enemies
and business associates. It may involve a self-sacrificing pursuit of the happiness
of the other. When acting towards a person to whom one feels giri, one
must not take into account one's own suffering when alleviating or helping the
other out of a difficult situation.
Implicit requirements for respect
Major significance may be attached in personal relations to a requirement for
respect and avoidance of disrespect -- a want of respect or reverence, esteem,
civility or courtesy. This may be mutual or asymmetrical. It may only be a mental
attitude -- possibly expressed in an impatience of bearing, recognized in the
military as "dumb insolence".
Whether in the case of diplomatic protocol, rules of precedence, or interpersonal
relations (notably between family or community members), great attention may
be given to the phatic communications that are indicative of a level of respect
or disrespect -- that may seldom be rendered verbally explicit. This concern
is not confined to particular social classes. It may be extremely important
in articulating relations amongst gang members and between gangs. [more
| more | more].
In a series of influential and controversial papers on "conversational
implicature", Herbert P Grice (1957, 1968, 1969) has argued that the meaning
of a word (or nonnatural sign) in general is a derivative function of what speakers
mean by that word in individual instances of uttering it. Conventional theory
discourages inquiry into what a particular speaker might mean by a word in a
particular utterance -- to understand the utterance it is held to be enough
to know what the word "means". But Grice argues that what a word "means" derives
from what speakers mean by uttering it -- and he further holds that "what a
particular speaker or writer means by a sign on a particular occasion... may
well diverge from the standard meaning of the sign" (Grice 1957: 381). [more
In this sense what is implied may well be effectively "unsaid" and highly dependent
on contextal implications.
A vast literature has complicated the theory of implicature since 1978. (see
Penelope Brown and Stephen C. Levinson, Politeness: Some Universals in Language
Use, 1988; Dan Sperber and Deirdre Wilson, Relevance: Communication and
Cognition, 1986; Georgia M. Green, Pragmatics and Natural Language Understanding,
1989, 87-125; and H P Grice, Studies in the Way of Words, 1989)
Hidden agendas and conspiracy theories
Reference to "hidden agendas" is a common feature of international
relations and conspiracy theories [more
| more | more
| more | more]:
- Wayne A. Edisis The Hidden Agenda: Negotiations for the Generalized System
of Preferences Brandeis University, 1985, doctoral dissertation) Helen
Dwight Reid Award Winners
- John Pilger. Hidden
Agendas (New Press, 1999) and Hidden
Agenda Behind War on Terror (Mirror, 29 October 2001) [see
also website with other writings]
- Sarah Left. Conspiracy
theories: From crop circles to politics (Guardian, 21 October 2003)
- Ed Lewis.Hidden
Agendas Of The War That Is Not a War, 2001
- Jim Marrs. Rule by Secrecy: The Hidden History That Connects the Trilateral
Commission, the Freemasons, and the Great Pyramids (Perennial, 2001)
- Robin Ramsay. Of
Conspiracies and Conspiracy Theories: The Truth Buried by the Fantasies
- Pierre Salinger and Eric Laurent Secret Dossier: The Hidden Agenda Behind
the Gulf War (Penguin, 1991)
- Stephen Toulmin. Cosmopolis: The Hidden Agenda of Modernity (University
of Chicago Press, 1992)
- Anatoly Verbin. The
hidden agenda of Nato's expansion to the east (Contribution to the
8th International Communist Seminar, Brussels, 1999)
Deception and lies
Whereas a lie is necessarily explicit, deception is a much broader practice
that can include all kinds of deliberately misleading omissions, suggestions,
and nonverbal implications. (see Complementary
Truth-handling Strategies: Mediating the relationship between the "Last
class" and the "Liar class". 2003)
Deception may be especially significant in the case of self-deception, whether
in the case of an individual, a professional group, a social class, a nation,
or even the international community. An interesting phenomenon in this connection
is that of groupthink, notably as it relates to the unstated attitudes governing
recognition and evaluation of evidence (see Groupthink:
the Search for Archaeoraptor as a Metaphoric Tale: missing the link between
"freedom fighters" and "terrorists" . 2002).
A classic form of deception gave rise to the notion of "Potemkin Villages".
These derive their notoriety from a grand tour by Catherine the Great, Empress
of Russia, of the newly conquered Crimea in 1787. The tour was organized by
Prince Grigori Aleksandrovich Potemkin who is purported to have ensured that
Catherine was only exposed to the prosperous villages along the route. Potemkin's
critics in the Imperial Court labeled these villages "Potemkin Villages" and
claimed that they were actually inhabited by actors (see also Globalization
within a Global Potemkin Society. 2000). Some might see a parallel in
the US presidential visit to London in November 2003 when the first lady Laura
Bush told reporters she had barely noticed the opposition to her husband's state
visit: "We've seen plenty of American flags. We've seen plenty of people waving
to us -- many, many more people in fact than protesters," she said [more].
In his frustration with Saddam Hussein, George Bush has himself declared: "I'm
sick and tired of lies and deception". But the world has subsequently been dismayed
to discover that, in the words of Ray
McGovern, co-founder of the Veteran
Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (USA): "No President has lied so baldly
and so often and so demonstrably" (Independent on Sunday, 9 November
- Front organizations
- Illegal or "black flag" operations
Secrecy and codes of silence
Secrecy ensures that much of relevance to participative, democratic, international
policy-making remains "unsaid" -- whether widely rumoured or not.
Employment in many organizations, notably governmental and intergovernmental
organizations, requires signature of contracts preventing disclosure of information
that it is believed should remain "unsaid".
Intelligence gathering: This may be understood as an investment in the
unsayable -- for security reasons. The most ambitious national program in democratic
societies to this end is that of the US Defense Department's Total
Information Awareness program. It has ironic similarities to the invasive
surveillance programs deplored by the US in totalitarian societies -- notably
the East German Stasi who maintained files on up to 6 million East German citizens,
namely one third of the population [more].
The most ambitious international program is Echelon, a global surveillance network
that can eavesdrop on every single phone call, fax or e-mail, anywhere on the
Classified information: Extremely large quantities of information are
treated as "classified", namely secret, by intergovernmental organizations,
national governments (especially their security services), and corporations
-- despite different attempts to ease the critria requiring classification or
the length of the period prior to their declassification [more
Documents may be so held by governments for periods up to 50 years prior to
release, although they may be deliberately shdredded in anticipation of the
release date. The Vatican has maintained secret for centuries its archives relating
to the Inquisition [more].
The degree of concern with official secrecy is a clear indication that governance
is to a very large degree based on the "unsaid" -- information that
is not open to public debate. Valid arguments in justification for such secrecy
in particular cases are improperly extended to other cases.
The degree of deception under which national and international politics is
conducted is illustrated by the classic case of Daniel
Ellsberg who in 1971 acquired notoriety with his release of the 7,000-page
Papers, a Defense Department study of the USA's sordid involvement in
| more | more].
Codes of silence: according to James E. Lukaszewski (Overcoming
Codes of Silence, 1999): "In many situations where reputations
are at stake, where serious damage is threatened or has already occurred, there
is a human tendency or institutional expectation that silence will be maintained.
Ironically, codes of silence become obvious quickly and fuel relentless attacks
by outside forces to pierce the veil of secrecy and bring down those responsible.
Codes of silence are institutional hiding places". Lukaszewski distinguishes
- A "blue wall" of police silence which only crumbles with enormous
public pressure [more].
- A "white wall" of silence cultivated by the medical community
when the public or the victim's interest may need and demand disclosure [more
- A "green wall" of silence among military professionals in relation
to civilians deemed to be unworthy of respect.
- A "stone wall" of silence characteristic of the corporate practice
to initially deny events and consequences, even when both are readily evident.
When forced to confess, the practice is then to say little or nothing.
- An "editorial wall" of silence practiced by the media in response
to criticism. Basically if the media decide not to cover an event, it does
This categorization does not include:
- Codes of silence relating to free speech on campus or within the academic
- Codes of silence relating to membership of secret societies, whether legal
(as in the case of the freemasons) or illegal (as in the case of the mafia
code of omerta)
- Codes of silence relating to computer mediated communication [more]
- Codes of silence in relation to religious groups and sects [more]
- Codes of silence relating to collusion, notably commercial collusive practices
- Codes of silence relating to abuse within national and international bureaucracies
| more | more]
- Codes of silence relating to political and other conspiracies
- Codes of silence relating to gender discrimination and sexual harassment
[more | more]
Discussing the Undiscussable
"There is an unspoken code of silence in most corporations that conceals
the full extent of a corporation's competitive weaknesses. But a threat
that everyone perceives and no one talks about is far more debilitating
to a company than a threat that has been clearly revealed.
Companies, like people, tend to be at least as sick as their secrets."
Tracy Goss, Richard Pascale, and Anthony Athos, "The
Reinvention Roller Coaster:Risking the Present for a Powerful Future,"
Harvard Business Review, Nov-Dec 1993
Ignorance, unknowing and nescience
The "unsaid" may be intimately associated with a sense of ignorance
of what might be meaningfully said -- rather than with knowledge deliberately
withheld. According to David Gray (Wanted: Chief Ignorance Officer, Harvard
Business Review, November 2003) ignorance (that he terms nescience) is a
new form of knowledge -- and a resource in its own right (see review by Lucy
Kellaway. In case you don't know, ignorance is the new knowledge. Financial
Times, 1 December 2003). In particular knowledge encourages people to think
in well-worn ways, whereas ignorance encourages continual questioning and creativity.
To complement approaches to knowledge management, Gray identifies four steps
to managing nescience: deferment, prematurity, irrelevance and waste.
For Alexander Schatten, et al (Closing
the Gap: From Nescience to Knowledge Management, 2003), there is a case
for enhancing the knowledge management process by accentuating the importance
of nescience in information and knowledge-centric processes. When knowledge
is generated and applied, society proceeds one step higher in system complexity;
the nescience, the insecurity increases, new problems arise, and the system
risk generally grows. Following Helmut Willke (Dystopia: Studien zur Krisis
des Wissens in der modernen. Gesellschaft. Suhrkamp Taschenbuch Wissenschaft,
2002), the authors suggest that the "The crisis of knowledge is cognitively
driven by the new relevance of nescience". They call for a new concept
that accepts the fact that growing knowledge always produces nescience and the
management of nescience is the factor of future success. For them:
Following these prepositions, the core idea of the suggested concept is to
put the management of the nescience into the center of interest, or in other
words: nescience can be expressed in the form of a question. This question
shall be the starting point of the knowledge acquisition and management.
Concern with nescience has arisen in relation to environmental sustainability
(see Richard C. Bishop and Antony Scott. Nescience
and the Safe Minimum Standard of Conservation): "Under nescience,
surprises can happen and decision-makers know it. More formally stated, under
nescience, alternative future states of the world and associated probabilities
are not fully defined. Economic theorists have yet to address choice under nescience.".
The authors stress the need for a theory of choice under nescience -- given
that nescience is a much more realistic assumption than uncertainty. Their examination
of ignorance, ambiguity, unforeseen contingencies, and the precautionary principle
showed a rather consistent tendency toward choices that stress caution, guarding
against extreme adverse outcomes, and keeping options open.
As a philosopher, Manuel de Diéguez (Science
et Nescience) explores the notion of intelligbility and the reasons
why the invariant is considered intelligible: "Il s'agissait donc ici,
par une spéléologie de la compréhensibilité, de démasquer l'idole fondamentale
qu'est 'arbre de la connaissance' en sa copie baptismale et magique de la constance.
Peut-être le moment est-il venu de placer, par de modestes moyens, l'humanisme
comme la théologie en face d'une critique radicale de leur re-présentation,
afin que, par-delà l'univers pléthorique de la prévisibilité, resurgissent la
vocation, la tension et le tragique de la transcendance."
The classical philosophical study of ignorance was however that of Nicholas
of Cusa (De Docta Ignorantia, 1440) of which Jasper Hopkins has provided
a recent translation and appraisal (Nicholas
of Cusa On Learned Ignorance, 1981/85). For Nicholas such learned ignorance
involved "embracing the incomprehensible incomprehensibly". The unknowing
which Nicholas discusses has been understood to be not so much an erudite or
a wise unknowing (i.e., an unknowing which confers a kind of erudition or wisdom
on the one who does not know) as it is simply a recognition-of-limitedness that
has been achieved (i.e., an unknowing which has been learned, so that the one
who has learned of his unknowing is now among the instructed, rather than remaining
one of the unlearned). The emphasis of Nicholas is upon instruction in the way-of-ignorance
and that the man of learned ignorance is not thought by Nicholas to be a man
of erudition. Nicholas does mainly understand "docta ignorantia" as an
ignorance which has been acquired and which distinguishes its possessor from
those who are thus uninstructed. Yet, it is equally clear that "the more he
knows that he is unknowing, the more learned he will be" and that Nicholas also
sometimes understands "docta ignorantia" as an ignorance which renders
its possessor wise.
At the first UNESCO Philosophy Forum (Paris, 1995) 71 philosophers and specialists
from various fields engaged in dialogues to explore the question, "What don't
we know?" (see Ayyam Sureau (Ed). What
We Do Not Know, 1996)
From a pedagogical perspective, Academia Vixen (The
Emperor's Nakedness: Undressing Ignorance in the Classroom, 2003) asks
how students might be instructed in ignorance: "This is not to promote
stupidity -- something, as we all know, vastly different from ignorance -- but
to argue that respect for that which we do not know or think we do is a continuing
prerequisite for learning, both in the classroom and beyond". The author
criticizes the perspective of Shoshana Felman (Psychoanalysis and Education:
Teaching Terminable and Interminable, Yale French Studies, No. 63, 1982)
on the issue of teaching and ignorance in psychoanalytic terms where ignorance
is likened to an analysand's "repression" or "resistance" to knowledge -- although
ignorance is not not seen as a lack of knowledge, unknowing is characterized
in a negative light as "an active refusal of information." Her question remains
as to whether it is possible to teach students not to know, or is knowledge
too great a temptation for them, and for us?
A political perspective on the Middle East crisis is offered by Miriam Reik
and Fouzi Slisli in terms of Unknowing
what is known (Al-Ahram, No. 657, 25 Sept. - 1 Oct. 2003).
Stimulated by the challenge of ignorance in relation to health care, the University
of Arizona Health Sciences Center (What
is ignorance?) explores a variety of positive understandings of ignorance.
The co-founder, Marlys Witte, indicates there:
"Ignorance represents all that we have yet to learn and discover -- from
an individual or collective viewpoint and shifting over time. You cannot learn
what you already 'know' -- although you may have to unlearn some things, and
you cannot discover something you've already found - although you may occasionally
rediscover something you've misplaced or forgotten. Also, ignorance -- i.e.,
unanswered questions -- is the raw material of knowledge, and (current) knowledge
is the raw material of (future) ignorance, i.e., answers and questions shift
with time and the accumulation of answers.
The value of ignorance in a group dynamic situation has been explored in the
of Ignorance, meeting occasionally since the 1980s (see also Anthony Blake.
Group in Dialogue, 1994). This process was also associated with the
emergence of a School
of Unknowing -- in the light the medieval mystical treatises grouped under
that name [more].
An online agnostic International
University of Nescience has also emerged.
According to spiritual traditions, nescience is the "force which prevents wisdom
shining from within, that is that which holds it in latency." (see Ramjee Singh
to Omniscience) For Singh, from a Jain perspective, for example: "In
short, nescience or mithyatva is at the root of all evils and the cause
of worldly existence". In the Bhagavad Gita (5, 16): "When,
however, one is enlightened with the knowledge by which nescience is destroyed,
then his knowledge reveals everything, as the sun lights up everything in the
daytime". [Vedanta perspective on avidya].
But for Dionysius the Areopagite (Mystical
Unknowing, or agnosia, is not ignorance or nescience as ordinarily understood,
but rather the realization that no finite knowledge can fully know the Infinite
One, and that therefore it is only truly to be approached by agnosia, or by
that which is beyond and above knowledge.
Again, poetically expressed by T S Eliot (Four Quartets: East
In order to arrive at what you do not know
You must go by a way which is the way of ignorance.
In order to possess what you do not possess
You must go by the way of dispossession.
In order to arrive at what you are not
You must go through the way in which you are not.
And what you do not know is the only thing you know
And what you own is what you do not own
And where you are is where you are not.
Much of this poem is recognized to be a literary borrowing -- expressed in
poetic form -- from maxims formulated by St John of the Cross [more].
Via negativa and mysticism
The whole range of mystical experience in the period of Dionysius the Areopagite,
Master Eckhart et alia is characertized by what theologians have termed the
via negativa, that can also usefully be understood as one way of responding
to the "unsaid". This is the approach to God through negation, a commonplace
of all mysticism, whether Eastern or Western. From this perspective, no predicates
attach to God; no words may legitimately be used to describe him. In stripping
from the mind all its delusions about God it is prepared for the truth, and
in eliminating all that is not God, there is a penetration to the heart of the
mystery. An analogous approach is recognized in relation to the Upanishads,
as in the expression neti-neti (not this, not this) in response to the
reality of all that is affirmed. In this context the "unsaid" is the
ground of mysticism. It relates also to the expression of St. John of the Cross
as the "silencio sonoro" (sounding silence) and the beautiful Dark Night
(see Antonio de Nicolas. St. John of the Cross: Alchemist of the Soul,
1995). San Juan de la Cruz called this poem 'Songs of the soul delighted at
having reached the high state of perfection, the union with God, by way of spiritual
As reviewed by Nicholas Colloff, Michael A. Sells (Mystical
Languages Of Unsaying, 1994), explores how selected mystical writers
use language to body forth that inexpressible reality and its contours. Each
language demonstrates a use of patterns of 'apophasis' (namely 'speaking away').
Apophatic theology has been described as a way of 'negation' and in this has
been set opposite 'kataphatic' theology as a way of 'affirmation'. 'Apophasis'
may howevr be understood not as a direct negation of prior affirmative statement
but as a way of 'unsaying' them. 'Kataphatic' theology is then the necessary
context in which 'apophasis' can take place. Apophasis is then a language of
double statements, although each of the writers explored recognises the tendency
to fix only upon the single statement to the neglect of its twin -- so each
double statement must be placed within further statements in order to achieve
an infinite regress, a referential openness rather than defining the referent.
This referential openness in the text evokes the openness and vulnerability
to the ultimate necessary to practice the 'perpetual transformation'. As Colloff
concludes, texts of this kind are performative. They are designed to 'trigger'
in the reader a comprehension of the way of being that the text itself mirrors.
The unmentionable and the unsayable
- Humour: Explaining a joke takes all the fun out of it. It is widely
recognized that it is impossible to explain why something's funny to people
who don't get it. They focus on elements which to them seem meaningless, but
are indeed the very fabric of the joke. The explanation may convey why it
was, in fact, a joke, and what the point of the joke was, but it takes much
longer than the joke did, and it rarely helps someone appreciate the joke
as fully as they would have if they had just understood it in the first place.
As argued by Isaac Asimov: "Explaining a joke is like dissecting a live
frog. The exact workings are discovered but the thing dies in the process".
- Quality of affection: Even poets have struggled vainly to express
the quality of affection they feel, whether for people or for aesthetic experiences.
- Euphemism: To avoid use of expressions which are harsh, blunt, or
offensive, a mild, indirect, or vague term may be used instead, namely a way
of describing an offensive thing by an inoffensive expression. In some circles
the offensive expression may be considered inappropriate and effectively unsayable.
- Political criticism: Many countries have some degree of censorship
regarding political criticism deemed to be inappropriate (notably of the leadership
in a dictatorship). The content of such criticism thus is effectively unsayable
in public, whether or not it is acceptable in private.
- Unsayable words: The media are attentive to the circumstances under
which offensive expressions must be censored.
- Unnamed God: Some religions avoid naming their god, or only permit
the name to be used by special people under appropriate circumstances. The
Taoist classic the Tao Te Ching starts with the phrases: "The
Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao. The name that can be named is
not the eternal name"
- Secret personal name: People may be given secret names in certain
cultures, possibly after appropriate rites of initiation. That name can then
only be used under special circumstances.
- Unsayable nature of the sacred: The sacred may be understood as being
part of the unsayable dimension of human experience and, according to Gregory
Bateson for example, must remain such. This is in part a way of indicating
what it is -- as something which is beyond facile descriptions [more].
Unasked and unanswered questions
Social and other pressures, including secrecy, ensure that many questions remain
unasked or unanswered that pertain to what is "unsaid" (see, for example,
to which Many deserve Answers, 2000; 911+
Questions in Seeking UnCommon Ground and protecting the Middle Way,
2001). Political, and other forms of, discourse may be structured to avoid drawing
attention to those questions.
This phenomenon has been particular evident in the case of events associated
with the "war on terrorism" (see for example Harry Browne. The
Unasked Questions. 29 January 2003; William Raspberry. Unasked
Questions. The Washington Post, 30 September 2002). It was also
evident in the case of Kosovo (see for example, Philip Hammond. The
Unasked Questions: Reporting of the war in Yugoslavia has been strong on rhetoric
and short on genuine attempts to get at the truth. Times, 9 April
It has also applied in the case of other sets of issues (see for example David
C. Korten. UNCED: Unasked
Questions. 15 April 1991; Alex Kirby. Foot-and-mouth:
the unasked questions. BBC, 21 January 2002)
Repression of memory
1. Historical memory: Collective memory of past tragedies and shameful
massacres, possibly interpreted by some as acts of genocide, may be subject
to repression and denial by later political forces (as, for example, with Central
America and Armenia) -- or because it is too painful for people who have to
live with those who may have been involved in their perpetration (as in post-francist
Spain) [more]. Genocide
denial has resulted in efforts to recover historical memeory to guard against
repetiton of the process.
2. Individual memory: In this case the focus is on the tendency of people
who have experienced abuse in their early childhood to be subject to repressed
memory syndrome under which they deny having been exposed to such abuse. Misguided
exploration of this phenomenon, resulting in false accusations, has led to recognition
of False Repressed Memory Syndrome.
Open secret: partial acknowledgement of the "unsaid"
Much that is "unsaid" publicly may take the form of rumour, anecdote
and corridor gossip. This may be referenced under the French term (Secret
de Polichinelle) or the Grman term (Offenes Geheimnis):
- Curtailment of human rights: The response to terrorism has resulted
in a major curtailment of human rights and liberties in the name of those
same rights and liberties
- Torture: According to Joan Simalchik (The
Politics of Torture: Dispelling the Myths and Understanding the Survivors,
1995): "There remains a perception that torture is practiced randomly,
that it is punishment carried to an extreme, that it is performed by psychopaths
or sadists, that it exists outside of governmental responsibility and is practiced
by "less civilized" societies. Compounding the problem is a wall of sustained
disbelief that prevents full comprehension of the enormity of this gross human
rights violation. Most people simply try to avoid the topic entirely... However,
the intentional use of terror generates defensive reactions in people and
"cognitive dissonance" develops. When torture is practiced as official policy
with the calculated purpose of precipitating fear, social reality becomes
distorted. Because torture is practiced in secret and its use is always denied,
truth is perverted and devalued. Ignacio Martin-Baro, the Jesuit psychologist
who was assassinated by the Salvadoran military in November 1989, described
the phenomenon of "circles of silence" that are created as a direct consequence
of the social denial surrounding massive repression. A progressive distancing
occurs which transposes the authentic situation from immediate overt consciousness."
- Problematic aspects of progress: There is a marked tendency to avoid
any reference to the problematic aspects of initiatives that have been presented
as singularly positive. This "positive" attitude may result in the
suppression of information on problems that later prove to be disastrous (as
with the Challenger space shuttle disaster).
- Questionable progress: In 2002 the UNDP Human
Development Report indicated that 54 countries were poorer than in
1990, life expectancy had decreased in 34 countries in that period, whilst
hunger had increased in 21 countries.
- Censorship: Despite efforts at censorship, some projects endeavour
to point to items of news whose dissemination has been curtailed. These include:
Index on Censorship and Project
Censored (a media research group out of Sonoma State University which
tracks the news published in independent journals and newsletters). The UK
member of the Save the Children group was subjected to gagging measures by
its USA counterpart concerning constraints on the group's activities in Iraq
(see Kevin Maguire. How
British charity was silenced on Iraq. Guardian, 28 November
- Unaccountable power mongers: Concern has been expressed at the undue
influence of bodies of whose existence and role few are aware (eg Club of
Rome, Bilderberg Group, Trilateral Commission, Davos Forum, Pinay Circle,
etc). In the case of the Carlyle Group, known as the Ex-Presidents'
Club because of the number of former world leaders it employs (including
George Bush Snr, John Major, James Baker, Afsaneh Masheyekhi), among the companies
it owns are those which make equipment, vehicles and munitions for the US
military. The first president Bush is understood to have visited the Binladins
in Saudi Arabia twice on the firm's behalf. [more
- Corruption: This is widely and unofficially acknowledged to different
degrees in many countries, although the level of corruption may not be publicly
or officially reported as assiduously as Transparency
Corruption Report, 2003) has been able to do. It was long (and falsely)
claimed by industrialized countries, and intergovernmental organizeations,
to be primarily confined to developing countries.
- Slavery: The extent of the continuing existense of slavery in a variety
of forms (see L'esclavage,
un secret de Polichinelle. L'Humanité, 16 avril 2001)
- Delayed reporting: Information may be made publicly available long
after the issues described were known to some, thus ensuring that it is effectively
"unsaid" during a period when this omission can be best used to
advantage. This is typically the case with reports of official public inquiries.
- Usurping democratic processes: The questionable procedures associated
with the election of the current president of the USA, have been matched by
the contortions of the UK government with regard to consulting the population
concerning adoption of the euro.
Denial of the "unsaid"
A widespread response to any attempt to draw attention to the "unsaid" is through
denial. This is notably evident with respect to:
- environment policy as, for example, in the State
- denial of responsibility: as, for example, argued by James Henry
Graf (A Nation in Denial,
2002): "America is a nation in denial, the dominant force in a world
that daily closes its eyes to the hard realities of corruption, discrimination,
and outrageously specious rationalization. There are things no major publication
dares to print, no major broadcaster dares to discuss". (See also: Willima
Blum. Myth and
Denial in the War on Terrorism. Counterpunch, 12 August 2003; Justin
in Denial: It's a 'conspiracy theory' to blame neocons for the war - even
though they spent the last decade agitating for it. 30 April 2003);
Paul Krugman. Denial
and Deception. New York Times, 24 June 2003; Fiachra Gibbons.
US 'is an empire in denial'. Guardian, 2 June 2003)
- genocide denial and notably holocaust denial [more
| more | more]
- disease: as for example in the case of HIV in South Africa (see State
George S. Cabot and Steve Harmon. When are contractual obligations created?
10 things you may not know that can hurt you [text]
Rodrigo Agerri. Fixing Unsaid Meanings. First International Workshop on Semantics, Pragmatics and Rhetorics, Donostia-San
Sebastian, Spain, November 2001) [commentary]
D C Berry (Ed.). How Implicit is Implicit Learning? Oxford University
Nicholas O. Berry. War and the Red Cross: the unspoken mission. St.
Martin's Press, 1997 [review]
John Bittleston. What's left unsaid: Body language says a lot about a person
if you know how to read it properly. 4 July 2003 [text]
Barry Brown. Unsaid Summit. Green Left Weekly Home Page (on the UNCED Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, 1992) [comment]
Harry Browne. The Unasked Questions. American Liberty Foundation, 29 January
Fiona A Campbell. "The Sayable and Unsayable": Memorialisations of the Shoah
in Law, Critical Theory and Culture, 1998 [text]
Rory Carroll. Saying the unsayable. Guardian, 11 June 2003 (how Bob
Geldof's outspokenness over the Aids crisis facing Ethiopia stung the country's
Jara Crawford. Say the Unsaid Things [text]
Nigel Cross and Kitty Warnock. The Unsaid in UNCED. [text]
E J Dionne. President's speech on Iraq left too much unsaid: Little candor
about who will pay. Concord Monitor, September 10, 2003 [text]
Mindles H. Dreck. Asymmetrical Information: Honne and Tatemae. 24 May 2002
Jacques Duquesne. Le non-dit de Pie XII. L'Express Livres, 23 novembre
Michael Eric Dyson. Words unsaid (African American women and the Million Man
March). 1995 [text]
Dave Duffy. Something unsaid about Timothy McVeigh's execution. Backwoods
Home Magazine. 1998 [text]
Wayne A. Edisis. The Hidden Agenda: Negotiations for the Generalized System
of Preferences. Brandeis University, 1985, doctoral dissertation (Helen
Dwight Reid Award Winner)
Jérome Frenkiel. La politique du non-dit. Les éditoriaux de la Gazette,
30 novembre 2002, 52 [text]
Johan Galtung. US "Negotiation" Style -- and the six-party talks
over over Korea, 2007 (Conference at the University of Jeju, Jeju and Hanshin
Didier Girard. A shattering silence: the obscene in the unsaid. [comment
on the book Frankenstein]
Louise Glück. Disruption, Hesitation, Silence. In: Proofs and Theories: Essays
on Poetry. New York, Ecco, 1994
Philip Hammond. The Unasked Questions: Reporting of the war in Yugoslavia has
been strong on rhetoric and short on genuine attempts to get at the truth. The
Times, 9 April 1999 [text]
The Hindu. Unasked questions. The Hindu, 14 May 2000 [text]
David Hirst. The Unsayable Must Be Said: the West has been loath to link the
war on terror to settling the Palestinian issue. Toronto Globe and Mail,
18 October [text]
Derek Hook. The Unsayable, the Virtual and the Limits of Natural Discourse.
University of the Witwatersrand [abstract]
W. Iser and S. Budick (Eds.). Languages of the Unsayable: the play of negativity
in literature and literary theory. Columbia University Press, 1989
Paul Jalbert. Structures of the 'Unsaid' Theory, Culture and Society,
11(4), pp. 127-60
- Complementary Truth-handling Strategies: Mediating the relationship
between the "Last class" and the "Liar class". 2003 [text]
- Groupthink: the Search for Archaeoraptor as a Metaphoric Tale:
missing the link between "freedom fighters" and "terrorists". 2002 [text]
- The "Dark Riders" of Social Change: a challenge for any Fellowship
of the Ring. 2002 [text]
- Promoting a Singular Global Threat -- Terrorism: Strategy of
choice for world governance. 2002 [text]
- 911+ Questions in Seeking UnCommon Ground and protecting the
Middle Way, 2001 [text]
- The Deafening Silence of Those Who Know Nothing. 1998 [text]
- Globalization within a Global Potemkin Society. 2000 [text]
- The Art of Non-Decision-Making. 1997 [text]
- Structuring around unknowing in a learning society. 1995 [Global
Strategies and Solutions Project] [text]
- Organization and Lifestyle Design: Characteristics of a nonverbal
structural language. 1978 [text]
Alex Kirby. Foot-and-mouth: the unasked questions. BBC, 21 January 2002 [text]
N. R. Kleinfield. Patients Whose Final Wishes Go Unsaid Put Doctors in a Bind.
New York Times, July 21, 2003 [text]
David C. Korten. UNCED: Unasked Questions. PCDForum Column #12, 15 April
Elizabeth le Roux. Imaginary Evidence: Finding the non-dit in fiction. University
of the Witwatersrand [text]
Dorothy Leonard and Sylvia Sensiper. The Role of Tacit Knowledge in Group Innovation.
California Management Review, Spring 1998
Ed Lewis. Hidden Agendas Of The War That Is Not a War. 2001 [text]
Dagobert D. Manteltasche. A Desipient Prolegomenon to the Deconstruction of
Silence: Neo-postdistanciationalist Approaches [text]
Alberto B. Mariantoni and Fred Oberson. Le non-dit du conflit israélo-arabe: les
clés cachées du problème. Pygmalion, 1997 [introduction]
Jim Marrs. Rule by Secrecy: The Hidden History That Connects the Trilateral
Commission, the Freemasons, and the Great Pyramids. Perennial. 2001
Barry Mason. Exploring the Unsaid: Creativity, Risks and Dilemmas in Working
Cross-Culturally. Karmac Books, 2004
Geoff Metcalf. Unasked questions. WorldNetDaily.com, 1999 [text]
Mitsubishi Corporation. Tatemae and Honne: Distinguishing Between Good Form
and Real Intention in Japanese Business Culture. Free Press, 1988
Edward Mortimer. Saying the Unsayable. The New York Review of Books,
Volume 40, Number 10, 27 May 1993 (Review of Cruelty and Silence: War, Tyranny,
Uprising, and the Arab World by Kanan Makiya) [text]
Richard Neville. Saying the unsayable. Sydney Morning Herald, 13 April
Opus Dei. Ein offenes Geheimnis "Ein Geheimnis. - Ein offenes Geheimnis: Es
gibt Weltkrisen, weil es an Heiligen fehlt". Der Weg, Nr. 301 [text]
John Pilger. Hidden Agendas. New Press, 1999 [excerpts | website]
Michael Polanyi. Personal Knowledge: Towards a Post-Critical Philosophy. University of Chicago Press. 1958
Stefan Pollan. How to Say the Non-dit; Disclosing World in Neo-Realist Film.
7th April 1999 [text]
William Raspberry. Unasked Questions. The Washington Post, 30 September
- Unknowable Facts. Lexington Books, 2009
- Ignorance: on the wider implications of deficient knowledge. University of Pittsburgh Press, 2009
A Reber. Implicit Learning and Tacit Knowledge: An Essay on the Cognitive Unconscious.
Oxford University Press, 1995
William Rivers Pitt. State Of The Union: All that Bush Left Unsaid. TruthOut.com,
29 January 2003 [text]
Ritchie Robertson. Language and the Unsayable in German Thought and Poetry
from Nietzsche to Celan [text]
G. Roudière. Traquer le non-dit. Paris, ESF
Stéphane Rozès. Le non-dit de la question sociale. l'Humanité,
23 novembre 2003 [text]
Pierre Salinger and Eric Laurent. Secret Dossier: The Hidden Agenda Behind
the Gulf War. Penguin, 1991
John Ralston Saul. The Unconscious Civilization. House of Anansi,
Pierre-Jean Simon. Le secret de Polichinelle de la sociologie. 1991
Ayyam Sureau (Ed.). What We Do Not Know. Gallimard, 1996 (First UNESCO Philosophy Forum, 1995) [excerpts]
Tapio Takala, et al. Tacit Knowledge in complex Mind-Environment Systems: Cross-modal
temporal behavior modeled with artificial neural network societies. (A multidisciplinary
project supported by the Information Research Programme of the Academy of Finland)
Sharon Todd (Ed.). Learning Desire: Perspectives on Pedagogy, Culture, and
the Unsaid. Routledge, 1997.
Stephen Toulmin. Cosmopolis: The Hidden Agenda of Modernity. University of
Chicago Press, 1992
Marcel Turbiaux. Le secret de Polichinelle ou De l'art de la marionette en
thérapie. Bulletin de Psychologie, Tome 50 (7/9), N°429, 1997, pp. 253-276
Stephen A. Tyler. The Said and the Unsaid: Mind, Meaning, and Culture. Academic
Anatoly Verbin. The hidden agenda of Nato's expansion to the east. (Contribution
to the 8th International Communist Seminar, Brussels, 1999) [text]
Brian S. Wise. Enron: The Things Left Unsaid. Intellectual Conservatism,
February 11, 2002 [text]
World Socialist Web Site. Hillary Clinton on Today: What was left unsaid.
27 January 1998 [text]
Beth Zacharias. 'Whole truth' sometimes best left unsaid. Nashville Business
Journal, 2003 [text]
Véronique Zardet and Henri Savall. Vers la "pensée en action"
stratégique ou le non-dit dans les discours sur la stratégie. Propositions pour
améliorer la qualité scientifique des recherches en stratégie. Managment
International, vol 2, 1
V Zegarac. What Is Phatic Communication? In: V. Rouchota and A. Jucker, eds.,
Current Issues in Relevance Theory. Benjamins, 1998, pp. 327-362.
V Zegarac and B. Clark. Phatic Interpretations and Phatic Communication. Journal
of Linguistics 35, 1999, pp. 321-346.