Expository Writing 1213 Conference draft Mauricio Cuevas Due Wednesday, September 05, 2012 The sound of silence “A horrid stillness first invades the ear, and in that silence we the tempest fear”(Dryden, 7). Silence inevitably starts with a sound, which either goes off very slowly, or ends in a Swift movement; and it ends the same way it started, with noise. Noise, sound, our perception of both has changed since they were recognized and “categorized” as such. People see this soundscape changing; our awareness is evolving, and prompting that change.
What we categorize as noise has influenced our music or maybe our perception was influenced by our circumstances and thus changed music. Attempts at analyzing these changes have come out with completely opposite approaches. On one side is Schafer, best known for introducing the concept of soundscape, and his wish to going back to Apollonian music, music that was natural, calm, and soothing; and on the other is Russolo, an early 1900’s artist and futurist that argued for embracing the new sounds that man and machine were making, and make away with the old and used up music of the day, new was good and old was bad.
Should we contain this avalanche of noises before our perception of real sound is destroyed? Or should we embrace these “noises” like the raw and energetic side of sound? The clank of machines, sound of cars, the hammering sound of our own heart, the harmony, the dissonance, the rhythm; it all comes to us or from us. We should welcome all sounds and strive to understand them. What sound and noise give us is mainly context. People can be overwhelmed by context.
They are put in a position where everything that is happening, what everyone is doing, where they are standing, is thrust into their minds in a single line of sound; a cacophony, as the brain interprets it. As the animal instinct is still a part of us, we cringe from such awareness of others. Our brains have been trained to have only one focus, when more things try for our attention, our brain gets lost in the tunnel it has constructed. Our attention has no idea where to go, what to “see” and what to ignore. We are lost in context. So we find ways to stop the flow of information from overpowering our mind.
Some people just turn off the soundscape; they push it all to the back of their minds, they make the tunnel stronger. These people are at the greatest loss; they may be able to concentrate better on the thing they are doing or thinking, but all around them is merely a mass of grey. When you choose to be deaf to most of the world, the world forgets about you. Soon neither world nor you can find a connection. “People around me walk and walk, they train their eyes on the horizon and walk their walk, aimed at a distant destination, not seeing what they pass, not thinking where they thread.
Zombies they are, unaware of the world and lost to the void. I sometimes feel a glance in my direction, I smile; for one second, feelings come back to those masks and cracks appear as smiles make their way to the surface of their beings. Not all is lost; but most of it is as I turn around and their faces return to that stone-like expression. ” Some people suppress sound with sound. It is not the same as tunneling, mind you, since sound is not suppressed by our subconscious, but changed.
We give our mind a string of recognizable, understandable, pleasant sounds (music, rhythms, stories, mantras, whale sounds, etc. ) that is going to take away the other distracting sounds, leaving us with our thoughts and that other chosen sound (plus the really loud or close sounds around us, albeit diminished greatly). This, of course, is a great strain on the ears and research estimates the main users of this method, teenagers (teenagers from the 90’s are not teenagers anymore but…ok) are getting irreversible damage to their hearing.
Connections to the world suffer, but are not severed; think of them as tightropes on a cliff where a 2-way bridge should be. “If a zombie looks at you from a mirror you’ve become a zombie too. ”(Becket, “Zombie reproduction”) Some others, simply allow their brain to take those hits, and can only feel calm if they are in a really quiet environment. But if at any time something out of their silence arises, all their concentration is at least ruffled; and if that distraction continues, so does the brain keep losing focus. This type of concentration is the easiest to achieve and the easiest to disrupt.
Now, silence. People are brought up on the idea that silence is soothing and great for calm and concentration. Half-truths and old people’s made-up stories, empowered by studies that had not been reviewed in years gave us this silence culture. Have you ever wondered what makes silence so revered? What is it that “inspires” respect? Why you feel on the spot when you are at the library? Have you ever experienced fear? People in the library do not walk, they tiptoe their way around. They are overwhelmed by context, once again.
In their minds they feel something lost and, in its absence, a void that must but cannot be refilled; and their minds realize it too, and they look for that missing thing, clinging to any hint of its return. You could say it is because of an inherent sense of sacredness, because these places are altars to silence and concentration, or they feel like it. You can also say it is because they get a feel of their own selves, how much they contribute to the soundscape. When you are imposed on yourself, your first reaction is to back away; you make a shadow of yourself.
You fear what you may find, that ominous feeling of oneself makes us silent in places of silence. Sound is everywhere, we function through it and we know we are alive because of it. When we are deprived of the great sounds, what do we have left? In a place of great silence you can hear things that otherwise would be hidden from you. Your footsteps are usually first in the “Do you hear that? ” list; you may find your breathing come next or, maybe, the sound your clothes make when you move. Your mind is being bombarded with something it doesn’t like, or doesn’t understand.
You often seem to become a different person when noise is taken away. You become too aware of your own self; too much of the sound now registered is yours. People in quiet places, places of silence, often try to make the least sound possible and cringe when someone else makes too much noise. Now take silence, and bring it closest to “perfection”. What happens with a person in a place of, seemingly, complete and perfect peace and quiet is revealing. No sound whatsoever (not to confuse with deafness, but sound nullification) would, by our cultural view on silence, be a great place to relax, or study.
We could check a study made by NASA on the effects of silence; see what they have to say. “They say silence is golden, but there’s a room in the US that’s so quiet it is unbearable,” reads the introduction to “The Herald Sun’s” article on the world’s most quiet room. It is a fitting description for a place where silence is eliminated with a 99% efficiency rate. And we will see that what happens in our minds expands into our other senses when sound is taken away from us. I will summarize the symptoms in a list, in order if you were to manage 45 minutes inside, which is the record right now. . Your ears will start adapting to the quiet of the room 2. You will start hearing the sound of your heartbeat (just like in the library) 3. The sound of your lungs will make its presence known. 4. If you have lasted this much, you may start hearing your stomach do its thing in your body 5. By now you must be flipping out, so you will try to walk around, and you will fall. We orient ourselves by sound; no sound equals no balance, so no way to move around. After 30 minutes you will need a chair to be there. 6.
You will sit and maybe hold for 45 minutes, because no there are no external sounds and listening to our organs do their thing must be annoying as hell, the brain will start to get confused, it will create its own sounds and we will go all delirious and get hallucinations. Silence confronts us against ourselves. But it is a battle because of how unnatural silence is. We are not supposed to be looking for silence, but for sound to go according to our state. Lets take baby steps here, managing a multitask is no easy thing when it comes to the years of uncontrolled listening. There is a silence where hath been no sound, There is a silence where no sound may be, In the cold grave—under the deep, deep sea, Or in wide desert where no life is found, Which hath been mute, and still must sleep profound. ”(Hood, Silence) Sound is linked to us as much as we are to it. Feelings and senses are made one by our own ability to listen. Some might say that there are sounds that are inherently bad, that all can think of as noises. I remember a saying that we hear but we do not listen, it applies really well to this. Remember the most annoying noise you have ever heard.
Identify it and probe it, listen closely. Why is it a bother? Why is it there? Where does it come from? What does it make you feel? Why is it the first thing in your mind? I have said before that we must train our conscious and unconscious to make it possible to listen to more than one source, so we can do whatever we have to do while remaining aware of our surroundings; but that also means that we can make our brain prioritize on the awareness. We will listen, but we will do so with an understanding that such sound is of little to no importance to us.
Take, for example, a baby crying next to you; you feel attacked, maybe annoyed or even a little worried for the baby and you see there is nothing to do about it. The sound itself is only annoying to you because your brain is upset by the frequency, by the urgency it carries and because it is being overwhelmed by it. The better you are at listening to more than one sound, the more you will see that your mind is not alarmed any more than you allow it to be, that the crying is only part of the set of sounds around you.
To better appreciate sound, we must go into the depths of it. We must understand it and what it does to us. We must see it for its presence and its absence. It also important to realize that we are linked to sound by more than a mere set of vibrations rippling through the air. When we see sound as a part of us, and we see ourselves contributing to the soundscape, we will have control over it, we will be able to feel it. As silence is eternal in the vacuum of space, so is sound a presence in our world filled with life.
Cite this The Sound of Silence
The Sound of Silence. (2016, Oct 24). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/the-sound-of-silence/