Luczak, Raymond. “Silence Is a Four Letter Word: On Art and Deafness: The Tenth Anniversary Edition”, HandType Press, 2011.
Musings from a Master
Raymond Luczak is a poet, a playwright and a filmmaker and he also is a deaf gay male who is gay. In “Silence is a Four Letter Word”, he shares his thoughts with us and he calls deaf artists everywhere to come forward. He originally wrote this is 2002 and now ten years later, he goes back to this book which was so important to artists.
The book is constructed of short opinionated thoughts that came to him over the years. His goal was to make others shake their ideas and self-containments and even though deaf artists do not have the ability to hear, it was time for them to shake their chains and argue for their rightful places.
Luczak looks at what he calls “art” and why it is art and then looks at deafness and determines that deaf artists need to reconsider their work and begin to live differently. Luczak says this book is “a hodgepodge of notes on being a deaf artist” and he explains that he put his thoughts into book form so that others would not have to experience what he did. “Many hearing writers and artists equate deafness with silence of the worst kind—as if never hearing music is the worst thing that could possibly happen. It is a very selfish perspective. Never taking into account that many deaf people have led full and rich lives without ever feeling the need to experience music the way hearing people do”. He writes of Barbra Streisand as if he has heard her sing and he writes of poets who do not hear the rhythm of their lines:
His hope is that the book will be a guide for deaf people or for anyone who ever feels different who have the desire to create something. We must consider that whatever the problem is, it is our problem and we must deal with it. In thinking what art means to each and how it makes us better, we must also look at the contribution we make if we let ourselves indeed chose to have it see the light of day. Luczak goes on to say that art is part of the process of discovery and rediscovery and even if it does not make a dent in the world, it will always be something left behind by someone.
I applaud his sincerity and his passion but most of all I think it is the fact that he chooses to bring his ideas out for all to enjoy. You cannot close his book without learning something from it. The prose is gorgeous but it is the ideas that get one thinking.