The words of prophets are written on the subway walls and in tenement halls and whispered in the sounds of silence .—–Paul Simon
I didn’t talk much when I was a kid .
I hear Ada’s voice saying , ” What do you mean , when you were a kid ? ” What she means is I don’t talk much now . I think that I do , but , compared to other people , okay , maybe not .
When I was in the early years at school , a teacher suggested to my parents that maybe sending me to a psychologist would be a good idea . Why ? Little Danny doesn’t talk ; says almost nothing . My mother told the the teacher , I guess , that that’s just the way little Danny is ; has always been . According to my mother’s telling of the story , my dad was a little irritated that the teacher seemed to be overreaching her field of expertise . At any rate , the suggestion that little Danny see a head shrinker didn’t fly with the folks . I think now that the teacher was right on , but now that’s water under the bridge , a trivial little anecdote from yesteryear , what might nowadays be called a byte from the bygone-isphere .
Ada thinks , by the way , that during my frequent periods of silence I am turning great truckloads of thought over in my brain , churning the brain butter , coming up with clots of solid conclusions . It’s not only been Ada who thinks such things . I’ve run into that misconceived perception from people all along .
Sometimes it works in my favor . It’s sometimes the : ” He doesn’t say something until he has something to say ” idea , as if I’m filtering the world through my brilliant intellectual gills , and keeping only the vital substances . If they only knew ! To me , it’s a sort of Being There thing . I’m Chance the gardener mistaken for Chauncey Gardiner .
At other times , I am suspected of having deep thoughts which I am unwilling to share . I had an instructor at UCLA who believed this . He tried to cajole and guilt-trip me into participating in class discussions . Philosophy of Knowledge class , no less ! If I had a tiny little thimble , I should have told him , I could cram my understanding and knowledge of philosophy into it , and still have room for a sandwich and a piece of fruit .
Lincoln evidently said something like Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt . Lincoln was a wise man ; knew what he was talking about . I’d renovate that old saying , though , to say something more like Better to be silent and be thought a genius , than open your mouth and remove all doubt .
Ada worries , still , that I’m having all of these intricate thoughts that I won’t share with her . I suppose that she worries that I’m secretly critical of this , or of that , or of her , or of the drapes she just bought , for example , or that I’m actually having negative thoughts about what I just expressed a positive opinion about .
My aunt Mary gave me a big decorative wooden clothes pin when I was a kid that said , in large block letters on an attached plaque : SECRET IDEAS . That’s been a recurring misconception all along , it seems . If they only knew !
I hate to say that I’m empty-headed , because it sounds bad , and because I think that there are plenty of different kinds of intelligence , and I’m intelligent enough . I have to admit , nevertheless, that much of the time I’m empty-headed . No recognizable , reportable , thoughts ! I’ve used this an an explanation to soothe Ada’s worries about my supposed secret stash of notions .
” What’s on your mind ? ” she says . Nothing ; but she doesn’t believe me . I probably wouldn’t believe me , either , I suppose ; but , well , that’s the way it is . That’s the way the cookie crumbles .