In praise of silence

By Martin Vogel

Harry Eyres writes in the FT on our aversion to silence:

“We have developed into a society or culture that is afraid of silence. The noise is now so great in many public places, partly because of all the mobile phone conversations conducted in them, that I am surprised people can actually hear the others they are phoning.

“Constant noise appears to be reassuring, or at least to be thought so. That is why music or muzak plays in shops, restaurants and on aeroplanes when they are about to take off or land. But what happens when noise is so loud and ubiquitous that you can no longer hear yourself think?

“Then the thought occurs that the whole point of all this din is to stop people thinking, or confronting themselves. The scary thing about silence is that you are left with yourself; the mirror which might have been conveniently darkened or blurred is now uncomfortably clean and unforgiving.”

He’s writing in response to A Book of Silence by Sara Maitland, which I’ve not read. His article resonated with my own increasing appreciation of silence.

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