Noise, Noise, Noise Everywhere..

28 12 2007

The twentieth century is, among other things, the Age of Noise. Physical noise, mental noise and noise of desire — we hold history’s record for all of them. And no wonder; for all the resources of our almost miraculous technology have been thrown into the current assault against silence. That most popular and influential of all recent inventions, the radio is nothing but a conduit through which pre-fabricated din can flow into our homes. And this din goes far deeper, of course, than the eardrums. It penetrates the mind, filling it with a babel of distractions, blasts of corybantic or sentimental music, continually repeated doses of drama that bring no catharsis, but usually create a craving for daily or even hourly emotional enemas. And where, as in most countries, the broadcasting stations support themselves by selling time to advertisers, the noise is carried from the ear, through the realms of fantasy, knowledge and feeling to the ego’s core of wish and desire. Spoken or printed, broadcast over the ether or on wood-pulp, all advertising copy has but one purpose — to prevent the will from ever achieving silence. Desirelessness is the condition of deliverance and illumination. The condition of an expanding and technologically progressive system of mass production is universal craving. Advertising is the organized effort to extend and intensify the workings of that force, which (as all the saints and teachers of all the higher religions have always taught) is the principal cause of suffering and wrong-doing and the greatest obstacle between the human soul and its Divine Ground.

— from Silence, Liberty, and Peace by Aldous Huxley

Just sharing a lingering thought of the day which made me reflect on the FM Generation.



2 responses

16 04 2008
Dick C. Flatline

I have discovered the essential flaw in humanity which has, thus far, kept mankind from solving most of its ongoing problems (e.g., war, a cure for cancer, etc.). That flaw is quite simple, actually: it is the categorical inability of *most* people to *ever* stop endlessly yammering about useless, insipid, banal BULLSHIT.

See, it works like this:

Mankind consists of two types of people. The majority of humans fall into Category One. For these people, a train of thought consists of one (largely empty) tankcar, a severely underpowered locomotive, and absolutely no tracks whatsoever. Sloshing around in the bottom of the tankcar is some absolutely sickening liquid solution consisting largely of highly-concentrated sugar-water, but also containing numerous toxic additives which usually include muzak, sitcom plots, ad jingles, “news” and a witches brew of petty personal neuroses. They’re not bad people. They’re nice people. Some of them are extremely BRIGHT people. But they’ve stared at the Idiot Box for too long, and now they have the attention span of an ant fart in a hurricane and the interpersonal skills of a used car salesman.

There is, however, a miniscule minority of humans (Category Two), who are actually capable of marshalling an extremely complex train of thought. Each of these people have at their command entire rail systems, complete with high-powered locomotives, a variety of fully-loaded cars of innumerable different types (each fully loaded with beneficial substances), and a switching system that allows them to couple those cars in unique combinations, haul them over long and tortuous routes, and finally deliver entire trainloads to a specific, predetermined destination. When *those* trains arrive, so to speak, we sometimes get major technnological advances, cutting-edge software, cures for diseases, environmental solutions, and so on. At the very least, we get a host of other little advancements that, while relatively minor, nonetheless make life a little bit easier or safer or better for all of us.

Unfortunately, this happens much more rarely than it should (or could) because, in the vast majority of instances when a Category Two is literally within sight of the delivery point, some Category One is manically COMPELLED to wander right onto the fucking tracks, causing a catastrophic derailment. I specifically refer to manic compulsion here because there is no other POSSIBLE explanation for the following conversation:

00:00:00 (Door opens.)

“I just saw the CUTEST movie! Hayley Joel Osment plays this little boy whose daddy plays the banjo in a cathouse on one of Saturn’s moons, and….”

“Hmmm. That’s nice. Listen, honey, I’m working on some extremely complicated functions here. Can you give me about ten minutes? Then I’ll come out and get a cup of coffee and sit down and you can tell me all about it, OK?”

00:01:00 (Door opens.)

“Awwwww! They just said that that actress who played the original fairy godmother in ‘Rin Tin Tin III’ died last night!”

“Mmmm. OK, look, sweetie, we can send flowers, build an eternal flame, whatever you want to do, but I’ve got three hours of brutal work already invested in debugging just this one subroutine. If I can figure it out, I can stop all these malicious spambots that are swarming all over the internet. But…well, it involves thinking one really big, long, complicated thought, and if I get stopped halfway through that thought, I have to go back and start all over again. Alright?”

00:02:00 (Door opens.)

“Your sister’s on the phone. She says you still haven’t told her what you want for Christmas.”

“Socks, OK? Tell her to buy me some fucking SOCKS!! Now close the goddamned door and leave me the fuck ALONE!!!”

00:03:00 (Door opens.)

“Aaaaaaawww! J-Lo broke up with….”


“This news flash just in! Local police, responding to reports of gunfire, have surrounded a suburban home where a computer programmer has reportedly slain everyone else in the house! In other news, scientists have announced that there is apparently NO solution for ANY of mankind’s problems, but they haven’t been able to determine WHY, because they’re not allowed to think any thoughts involving more than seven words and three numbers. And this just in, the actress who played the beloved fairy godmother in…..”

17 04 2008

@ Dick C. Flatline
Aptly put! What you have said is one compelling argument for the noise that envelops us in our daily routine. Your example, justly underlines how our preferences have changed over years..

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