Friday, July 11, 2014


Some of the most popular (and reliable) facebook and/or twitter feeds that will provide you with interesting Shaw quotations are The Shaw Chicago Theater Company, Shaw's Corner, and the International Shaw Society. You'll find direct links to their social network profiles on their web sites, so you can have your daily fix of Shavian wisdom at mouse cord's length. 
Swedish acting couple Olof and Frida Winnerstrand on stage 1908, as Valentine and Gloria, in George Bernard Shaw's play "Man kan aldrig veta" ("You Never Can Tell") at Vasateatern (the Vasa Theatre) in Stockholm.
Of course, these sites usually include manageable bits of Shavian witticisms as a way to encourage viewers and potential visitors/audiences to get involved in the enthralling world of Shaw's life and works. For the most part, however, little or no mention is made as to the original source of the quotations they post. Well, that's what friends are for. 

For example, Shaw Chicago latest post on facebook reads as follows: 

"Silence is the most perfect expression of scorn."

Although the idea is expressed with Shaw's usual pithy syntax, its precise meaning could be completely different had it been written as a part of a personal letter, in a piece of musical criticism, or - as the case has it here - as part of dramatic dialogue. 

In this case, in the fifth part of Back to Methuselah ("As Far As Thought Can Reach"), we witness how Arjillax and Ecrasia have a heated argument over who is capable of modelling the finest sculptures, which seems to come to an end when Arjillax describes the supremacy of his artistic creation

ARJILLAX. Skilful! You high-nosed idiot, I could turn such things out by the score with my eyes bandaged and one hand tied behind me. But what use would they be? They would bore me; and they would bore you if you had any sense. Go in and look at my busts. Look at them again and yet again until you receive the full impression of the intensity of mind that is stamped on them; and then go back to the pretty-pretty confectionery you call sculpture, and see whether you can endure its vapid emptiness.

...before asking for silence so that he can proceed to discuss a much more important matter: 

ARJILLAX. Listen to me, all of you; and do you, Ecrasia, be silent if you are capable of silence.

Ecrasia, however, refuses to accept Arjillax's notions on their respective artistic prowess, and utters the now famous

ECRASIA. Silence is the most perfect expression of scorn. Scorn! That is what I feel for your revolting busts.
George Bernard O'Neill Sshh
Another George Bernard (O'Neill) also showed interest in the aesthetic importance of silence. 

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