Monday, March 20, 2006

The Still Small Voice

Our modern world is too noisy. There is not enough quiet. There is too much piped in music. To hear music requires no effort, no mental lifting, no gestures, no postures. The requisite is quiet, silence. All other sound during music is noise: cacophonies interfering with effortless listening. Now the aural environment is 11, all the time. Jigs & reels through overhead speakers under the eaves along the sidewalk, outside the liquor store, played in the honor of…St. Patrick. A television in the paint store, sound only, playing that most rebellious of all musical forms, the ubiquitous third rate rock & roll. What a victory for Bill Haley. So much sound punches up a sound force field, keeping the ethers of the Great Silence outside the bounds. “Warning,warning, you are approaching the edge of vortex four” said the bodiless voice in a scene from Zardoz, where the immortals lived in increasing despair at their victory over death. Noisy mufflers made to sound throaty, 150db music systems in the trunks of the cars of every fifth 20 year old with an extra $400, etc. (“Hey man, it’s just rock an’ roll!” I hear an assonance there with the word drool. ) The outer and inner edges of silence recede further and further from us. Music is sounds on purpose. All sound, but music especially, organized sound as it were, emerges from silence. When our immediate environments are all sound, all ways, all or almost all the time, what space remains for silence to occupy? Our natural inner silence is suppressed, crowded out by instrusion. Except for the noises of warfare after the development of cannon in the early 1300’s, the only man made sound in the Medieval era louder than speech was church bells. Imagine such a landscape.

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