This conclusion spells out how the quiet testimony of the nineteenth century, taken as a whole, might provide a model for more contemporary thinking about bearing witness. Quiet testimony works against the current tendency to assume that testimony is motivated by the unspeakable, proposing instead an orientation toward how the world manifests itself as significant. It seems almost irreverent to propose that Emerson’s vegetable might bear on more explicit accounts of suffering, yet putting these entities in conversation, re-viewing them as part of a genealogy, may allow us to hear them all more acutely.
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