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Enquiries into Truth and Silence

Updated: Nov 3, 2021

Introductory Note

To suggest topics for the Truth-Seekers Awards, I have started to develop a list of significant and intriguing enquiries into truth and silence. These works are likely to prompt reflections on how the pursuit of truth relates to silence, social silencing, and the creation or breaking of certain kinds of silence.

The contributions included here were made by truth-seekers who work in very different contexts of enquiry or creation, attesting the pervasion of truth-seeking or silencing in a variety of cultural contexts. Made of pointers, the list merely mentions the year, the title, and author(s) of each work. This form leaves the task of discovering the specifics of each work to the reader. The list is just a sketch; and I hope to update it as our Truth and Silence project develops.

A Truth and Silence List (In Progress)


Yoo-rrook Justice Commission, the first formal truth-telling process into injustices experienced by First Peoples in Victoria, Australia


The Final Report of the Royal Commission and Board of Inquiry into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory, legal document tabled in the Australian Parliament on 17 November 2017

Get Out, a fictional film written and directed by Jordan Peele


Spotlight, a film directed by Tom McCarthy


Citizenfour, a documentary film directed by Laura Poitras

The Look of Silence (Indonesian: Senyap, "Silence"), a documentary film directed by Joshua Oppenheimer and a companion piece to The Act of Killing (Ten Brink & Oppenheimer, 2012)


The Artist Is Present (March–May 2010), a 736-hour and 30-minute static, silent performance by Marina Abramović


Hearing Silence, a chapter of Seeing Dark Things: The Philosophy of Shadows by R. Sorensen (2008)

Truth Machine: The Contentious History of DNA Fingerprinting (Lynch et al., 2008), a book by Michael Lynch, Simon A. Cole, Ruth McNally, and Kathleen Jordan


Epistemic Injustice: Power and the Ethics of Knowing (Fricker, 2007), a philosophy book by Miranda Fricker


#MeToo movement

On Truth (Frankfurt, 2006), a philosophical essay by Harry G. Frankfurt (2006), a companion piece of his essay On Bullshit (Frankfurt, 2005)


Caché, also known as Hidden, a film written and directed by Michael Haneke


Witnessing to Silence, a work of public art by Fiona Foley located in front of the Brisbane Magistrates Court


Silence is Sexy, a song recorded by Einstürzende Neubauten


Why Weren't We Told? A Personal Search for the Truth About Our History (1999) authored by Henry Reynolds


The Racial Contract (1997), a philosophical book by Charles W. Mills


Réserve, an installation by Christian Boltanski (part of the collections of the Centre Pompidou, Paris, France)


Fragmente—Stille, an Diotima, a recording of Luigi Nono’s score by LaSalle Quartet


Minamata (Smith & Smith, 1975), a photography book by W. Eugene Smith and Aileen M. Smith


United States v. Nixon, 418 U.S. 683 (1974), a United States Supreme Court case that resulted in a unanimous decision against President Richard Nixon

The Conversation, a fictional film written, produced, and directed by Francis Ford Coppola


The Gulag Archipelago (Архипелаг ГУЛАГ, Arkhipelag GULAG), a work by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn


The Confession (L'aveu), a film directed by Costa-Gavras


The Great Australian Silence, a section of After the Dreaming, The Boyer Lectures 1968, by W. E. H. Stanner, first transmitted by Australian Broadcasting Commission (Stanner, 1968/1979)

Guero, a piece for piano by Helmut Lachenmann

Comme à la radio, the first title of the fourth album by singer Brigitte Fontaine, recorded with the Art Ensemble of Chicago


Stigma (1963), a sociological book by Erving Goffman


4'33'' , a score withour mucial notation by John Cage (see Cage, 1960, 1961/1973; Davies, 1997; Gann, 2010; Kania, 2010)


Tokyo Story (東京物語, Tōkyō Monogatari), a film by Yasujirō Ozu


Black Skin, White Masks (1952/1986) (Peau noire, masques blancs), a book by Frantz Fanon


Strange Fruit, is a song written and composed by Abel Meeropol and recorded by Billie Holiday


The Narrow Road to the Deep North or The Narrow Road to the Interior (Matsuo, 1998), Oku no Hosomichi (奥の細道, originally おくのほそ道), a work of haibun by poet Matsuo Bashō


J’accuse...!, an open letter published on 13 January 1898 in the newspaper L’aurore by Émile Zola

c. 335–323 BCE

On Sophistical Refutations (Σοφιστικοὶ Ἔλεγχοι; De Sophisticis Elenchis), a text in Aristotle’s Organon in which he identified thirteen fallacies

c. 380 BCE

Gorgias (Γοργίας) (Plato, 1979), a Socratic dialogue written by Plato


Cage, J. (1960). 4'33''. Henmar Press.

Cage, J. (1961/1973). Silence: Lectures and Writings. Wesleyan University Press.

Davies, S. (1997). John Cage’s 4'33'': Is it music? Australasian Journal of Philosophy, 75(4), 448-462.

Fanon, F. (1952/1986). Black Skin, White Masks. Pluto Press.

Frankfurt, H. G. (2005). On Bullshit. Princeton University Press.

Frankfurt, H. G. (2006). On Truth. Random House.

Fricker, M. (2007). Epistemic Injustice: Power and the Ethics of Knowing. Oxford University Press.

Gann, K. (2010). No Such Thing as Silence: John Cage's 4'33''. Yale University Press.

Goffman, E. (1963). Stigma: Notes on the Management of Spoiled Identity. Simon & Schuster.

Kania, A. (2010). Silent Music. The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, 68(4), 343-353.

Lynch, M., Cole, S. A., McNally, R., & Jordan, K. (2008). Truth Machine: The Contentious History of DNA Fingerprinting. University of Chicago Press.

Matsuo, B. (1998). Narrow Road to the Interior and Other Writings (S. Hamill, Trans.). Shambhala.

Mills, C. W. (1997). The Racial Contract. Cornell University Press.

Plato. (1979). Gorgias (T. Irwin, Trans.). Clarendon Press.

Reynolds, H. (1999). Why Weren't We Told? A Personal Search for the Truth About Our History. Viking.

Smith, W. E., & Smith, A. M. (1975). Minamata. Holt, Rinehart, and Winston.

Sorensen, R. (2008). Hearing silence. In Seeing Dark Things: The Philosophy of Shadows (pp. 267-290). Oxford University Press.

Stanner, W. E. H. (1968/1979). The Great Australian Silence (a section of ‘After the Dreaming,’ The Boyer Lectures 1968, Australian Broadcasting Commission). In White Man Got No Dreaming: Essays, 1938-1973 (pp. 207-217). Australian National University Press.

Ten Brink, J., & Oppenheimer, J. (Eds.). (2012). Killer Images: Documentary Film, Memory and the Performance of Violence. Wallflower Press, Columbia University Press.

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hello Nicolas - it’s good to see this! I might enter. we Might also catch up one day. I hope you’re well. Are you still at CDU? very best, Lisa

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