Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Friends of silence

There is too much noise in the silence.

Following up on the poem Ad Lib (post below this one) I was pleased to discover the existence of a website called  Friends of Silence.

Not only
is there not enough silence
in the world
there is not enough noise
of the right kind.

Not only
is there too much noise
in the silence
there is not enough silence
in the noise.

Most noise in the cities where so many of us spend our time is nothing but background interference. The noise of the mobile phone in the supermarket, the noise of non-stop traffic, the noise from the building site, the ubiquitous noise of bing-bong announcements, and all the rest of it.

The poem Ad Lib highlights the noise interference during a theatre performance or a concert. In this example it's in a theatre during a vital scene in a play.

The habitual nervous coughing, the inconsiderate loud coughing, the bandwagon of coughing where one person starts and the rest jump on board, are an unpleasant distraction for performers and most of the audience.

Perhaps the website Friends of Silence is a refuge when background noise drives us almost insane.


  1. I think silence is good and I live in a very silent part of the country but I also like city noise, in fact I love cities and all the noisy bits of traffic, and voices and shouting and buses and lorries and more shouting and mobile phone conversations are great to listen to on trains and motorbikes roaring off up the Euston Road and sirens and everything that is to me part of the rich culture of city life.

  2. There is a kind of city noise that's the right kind, like the market traders at their stalls, the brass band in the park, the football crowd cheering a goal, by the way congrats on the win at Villa, and so on. Even the fire engine going by and such excitements. But what is going on is new and growing trend. It is straightforward noise pollution. The man who has a lawn mower that sounds like a motor bike on a fine weekend in summer and plays with it for 3 hours or in autumn the one with a huge leaf sucking machine that sounds like a plane taking off, it's as if people can no longer do anything in silence.

  3. Let him who is without sin cast the first stone. I find this noise pollution thing a difficult one. I know it is thoughtless people and the leaf suckers are horrible and a rake is silent and I hope by my example they will rake the leaves. If the machines are available man will buy them. Perhaps we should blame the inventors.

  4. I don't think we can apportion blame. The inventors are following the example set in the Garden of Eden. We can only blame ourselves and our idleness. You are setting a lovely example with your rake. If only there were more like minded people. The New Year's Eve firework extravaganza is the worst I can think of. Why does every city in the world feel the need to indulge in this pyrotechnic circus a la Orient.

  5. Interesting. I was reminded of the Patti Smith album title (I'm just getting into her words and music), Peace and Noise.

  6. As a specialist in creating the kind of noise we prefer to hear - i.e. music - you know what I'm saying. I know Cage uses noise but it's in a humorous way. And we like humour. We have now reached a level of noise evolution when even the birds are imitating our intrusive alarms. It's interesting to posit where it will all end. Maybe we need to evolve a third ear to deal with it.


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