May 25, 2010 at 9:26 pm #1259456
"Silence used to be, to varying degrees, a means of isolation. Now it is the absence of silence that works to render today's world empty and isolating. Its reserves have been invaded and depleted. The Machine marches globally forward and silence is the dwindling place where noise has not yet penetrated.
Civilization is a conspiracy of noise, designed to cover up the uncomfortable silences. The silence-honoring Wittgenstein understood the loss of our relationship with it. The unsilent present is a time of evaporating attention spans, erosion of critical thinking, and a lessened capacity for deeply felt experiences. Silence, like darkness, is hard to come by; but mind and spirit need its sustenance."
-John Zerzan, from the essay SilenceMay 26, 2010 at 5:20 pm #1614192
"Silence, like darkness, is hard to come by; but mind and spirit need its sustenance."
True silence is hard to come by, even in wild places, but to be savored when found. I differentiate between natural sounds and the man made abominations that so often destroy my inner peace. One reliable place to find silence is free diving, with just a mask, snorkel, and fins. It is a blissful experience, especially on a reef. SCUBA gear doesn't cut it, since it generates annoying sounds of its own.May 27, 2010 at 9:13 am #1614481
@dharmabumpkinLocale: San Gabriel Mtns
Green (A)? Craig your posts always sounded a little radical to me hah. Are you an anarchist? If so, good to hear.May 27, 2010 at 10:48 am #1614516
It would be nice if you could train yourself to not see man made noise as abominable, and instead see it as just noise like everything else, then it wouldn't be abominable anymore would it? You have to make an effort to see it as abominable, just stop making the effort.May 27, 2010 at 1:08 pm #1614566
I totally disagree.
The noise of a buzzing high-voltage power line drives me nuts and makes me anxious…it always has. As do steady generators, compressors, basically the sound of most steady motors/electricity, etc. It's not a matter of choosing not to like these noises- I don't like them, period. They don't make me feel good.
As for the sounds of the natural world, I think they're complimentary to silence. I question the concept of ancestral memory, the idea that certain patterns, behaviors, and preferences are imprinted into our psyche. I don't know if this is "provable", but I don't doubt the possibility of it. In light of this concept, the sound of wind in trees, rivers, bird song, insect hums, waves, rain…all of them have been a part of our lives for millenea. Do we choose to tolerate these sounds, or are we somewhat wired embrace them? I'm betting it's more of the latter.
Yes, I think the big green (A)! is where it's at, more and more with each day. Every other critique I've studied seems to ultimately fail to address the elephant in the room. I suppose people cannot accept that they might not be able to have their cake and eat it too.
If you're interested we should get together and talk philosophy over a campfire someday, I see you're in SoCal too.May 27, 2010 at 2:37 pm #1614591
There was this owl, his face was like a satellite dish, he had evolved the ability to block out all other environmental noise such as wind, snow blowing on the breeze, etc, and only hear his prey. If someone could find what owl this was, its amazing.May 27, 2010 at 4:42 pm #1614620
"It would be nice if you could train yourself to not see man made noise as abominable, and instead see it as just noise like everything else, then it wouldn't be abominable anymore would it? You have to make an effort to see it as abominable, just stop making the effort."
Isaac, I realize your intentions are the best, but I perceive it as abominable for what it represents, life out of balance, as well as how it impacts me physically. And it takes no effort at all, any more than the involuntary revulsion one experiences at the smell of rotting flesh. I could no more train myself to stop perceiving it as abominable that I could train myself to stop breathing.
My question to you: Why do you think it would be "nice"?May 27, 2010 at 4:59 pm #1614629
"I totally disagree.
The noise of a buzzing high-voltage power line drives me nuts and makes me anxious…it always has. As do steady generators, compressors, basically the sound of most steady motors/electricity, etc. It's not a matter of choosing not to like these noises- I don't like them, period. They don't make me feel good."
Disagree?? We're saying the same thing, my friend. I gotta go back and retake basic English composition if I didn't get that across in my OP. High voltage lines are freakin' awful. Right up there with sirens and chalk on the blackboard, in my book.
"As for the sounds of the natural world, I think they're complimentary to silence. I question the concept of ancestral memory, the idea that certain patterns, behaviors, and preferences are imprinted into our psyche. I don't know if this is "provable", but I don't doubt the possibility of it. In light of this concept, the sound of wind in trees, rivers, bird song, insect hums, waves, rain…all of them have been a part of our lives for millenea. Do we choose to tolerate these sounds, or are we somewhat wired embrace them? I'm betting it's more of the latter."
Again, we're singing from the same page in the choir book.
I was only referring to your apparent quest for silence. I have always embraced the full range of natural sounds as I encounter them. That is an integral part of every journey I take into high, wild places, or any wild place for that matter. It is, I sense, an integral part of my genetic heritage. Silence is but another note in the tonal scale of nature. Seeking it for its own sake is another thing entirely. It is rarely to be found as a dominant note in the natural world. Diving is one of those places where it comes with the journey; spelunking is, perhaps, another, although I have no experience of it.May 27, 2010 at 5:38 pm #1614649
We are saying the same thing Tom, I was responding to Isaac's post.
You're not insane Tom. At least not to me.May 28, 2010 at 1:12 am #1614764
Something about silence makes me sick
'Cause silence can be violence
Sorta like a slit wrist
Some speak the sounds
But speak in silent voices
Like radio is silent
Though it fills the air with noisesMay 28, 2010 at 3:27 am #1614768
@tallblokeLocale: DON'T LOOK DOWN!!
All jets were grounded for a couple of days a week ago in the SW of England. We were walking round the Cornish coast path at the time, which keeps you away from the traffic noise inland mostly. Really peaceful and complete Bliss at the ends of the day.
There are too few opportunities for really quiet experiences on my overcrowded Island.May 28, 2010 at 4:08 am #1614773
My son has a form of autism that makes him very sensitive to background noise. He can't easily distinguish between background noise and say, foreground conversation. Even the sound of the birds twittering is disturbing to his concentration.
My main reason for going out into the woods is for the relative silence, but my son’s condition has helped me to realize that true quiet does not exist. What symphony is greater than the melody of a babbling brook, coyotes howling, an owl hooting, the birds tweeting — all with the sound of a babbling brook and a gentle wind for background rhythm?
But occasionally you do get true silence deep in the forest or high atop a mountain or deep in meditation. It is only then that you can hear the yammering of your own thoughts, and you realize that most of the strident background noise, city or country, is coming from inside you. Still that cacophony and you just might find the true silence that comes from within.
Come to think of it, that's the real reason I go into the woods.
StargazerMay 28, 2010 at 7:28 am #1614796
I like Tom's mention of free diving. I've done it a few times; a peaceful, quiet world indeed.
Another pervasive silence that comes to mind is found caving.
Turn out the lights and you're enveloped in a darkness and silence so strong it almost becomes too much.
I've always loved major power outages for this reason. You can literally feel the calm come over the city.May 28, 2010 at 7:58 am #1614808
@ngatelLocale: Southern California
The noise of civilization is the engine that drives the production of diving masks, snorkels, fins, UL backpacking equipment, lightweight foods, the computers we are using to post, the power to run these computers, the Internet that provides this forum; the cars, trains and planes that wisk us to our destinations; art, music, literature, and the ability to lead a specialized life that affords leisure time… not 24/7 efforts to survive.
The noise of civilization created the research, knowledge and medical achievements that have doubled the life span of man in just a few short centuries.
Not perfect, but civilization is man’s greatest achievement to date. The question is whether we will self-destruct or create a better world. The issue is so complex and the solutions are not simple.
Few people could live a Green (A) life.
I doubt Mr. Zerzan could exist without the noise of civilization, and we certainly would not be reading his anarchist views without the noise of civilization to provide him a world stage.May 28, 2010 at 10:13 am #1614842
Oh, come now, Nick. You're turning a simple plea for silence into a political statement. His views are hardly anarchist. Even those of us who bask in technology realize that there's a price to pay for our comfortable (and longer!) lives. The price is noise, disharmony, and a different kind of stress than the simpler but more deadly stress that comes from the struggle to survive in the wilderness.
There's no getting around that stress, but we can take a vacation from it once in a while, and part of that vacation is found in the solitude and silence of the woods.
That's all he's saying. and I'll bet you agree with him in your heart of hearts or you wouldn't be going out into the woods yourself.
And it's not hypocritical to use a bit of technology to escape from the high-stress demands of a technological civilization once in a while.
Let's not turn everything into political divisiveness. Recreation is re-creation. Let's leave it at that.
StargazerMay 28, 2010 at 11:45 am #1614863
You're right Nick, John Zerzan certainly couldn't do what he does without civilization.
But then again, Zerzan wouldn't have to do what he does without civilization.
Living a philosophy of green anarchy/primitivism is certainly a difficult, if not impossible thing to do, especially under the umbrella of civilization.
But we can argue this of every lifestyle.
Anyone really want to live in a purely market-driven world?
Can you show me a Christian as perfect as Christ?
Have you met a Bodhisattva lately?
A human that has figured out how to live without impact on the environment?
Certainly we can agree that just because one cannot perfectly realize a philosophy you don't have to throw out the merits of its overall critique.
That would spell the death of all value systems.
I think it's ultimately about creating a framework or philosophy through which to view the world and it's problems.
I'm no expert, but I see it, in a nutshell, as thus: Environmentally speaking, the anti-civilization movement is pretty straightforward when it comes to basic premises.
Capitalists argue we can shop and spend our way out of environmental destruction and use "free markets" to determine the products/processes that define our lifestyle.
I.E.: make it more economical for everyone to drive a hybrid car and they will…etc.
Socialists argue that if workers were in control of the means of production and economies were more localized, at least there would be greater incentive to act ethically. If you partially controlled the factory in your own yard, would you let it destroy your land?
But the primitivist movement simply argues that neither approach addresses the real issue: a factory spewing toxins is a factory spewing toxins, regardless of who controls it or how. Civilization itself DEMANDS environmental destruction and is at it's very nature unsustainable, regardless of what social/economic system we put in place to govern it. Like anarchism, it is also very much a philosophy born out of critique of both capitalism and Marxist socialism.
As for "green anarchism", "primitivism"…whatever you call it, I've found these terms mean different things to every different person that studies them. Let's not be too simplistic about the meanings. But if there is a common thread, it is probably the belief that industrial civilization is by it's very nature exploitative and unsustainable.
So what do you do about it?
Like every other philosophy out there, that's where the discussions and debate lie within the community.May 28, 2010 at 12:35 pm #1614871
@ngatelLocale: Southern California
Okay, I will leave my philosophical view at the door :)
But what really irritates me are low flying fighter jets our of China Lake NS, or whever they take off from, in the Sierra canyons at high speed.May 28, 2010 at 12:44 pm #1614876
I don't think anyone needs to leave anything at the door.
This is the internet.
I hope most of us are aware that what appear to be ugly, contentious debates on the computer screen would appear as simple discussion amongst friends if occurring in the real world.May 28, 2010 at 12:47 pm #1614877
>But what really irritates me are low flying fighter jets our of China Lake NS, or whever they take off from, in the Sierra canyons at high speed.
Right on, Dude! Now there's something that we can agree on. Many is the time that I have stood in absolute silence in Middle-of-Nowhere, Ohio, and the only sound that I can here is the faint but strident roar of some danged distant passenger jet spoiling the perfection of the moment.
Ah, well. I'll be taking one to Greece in a couple of weeks. Without hypocrisy, I say, I love civilization/ people and all its/ their advantages. I love it/ them even more when I can get away from it/ them for a few days.
Off to the Wayne National Forest this weekend,
StargazerMay 28, 2010 at 7:35 pm #1614981
"You're not insane Tom. At least not to me."
Whew! Thanks Craig.May 28, 2010 at 7:48 pm #1614984
"The noise of civilization is the engine that drives the production of diving masks, snorkels, fins, UL backpacking equipment, lightweight foods, the computers we are using to post, the power to run these computers, the Internet that provides this forum; the cars, trains and planes that wisk us to our destinations; art, music, literature, and the ability to lead a specialized life that affords leisure time… not 24/7 efforts to survive."
All true, and all the more reason to have places to get away from it. A question of balance.
"Not perfect, but civilization is man’s greatest achievement to date. The question is whether we will self-destruct or create a better world. The issue is so complex and the solutions are not simple."
Maybe time to take a break from our headlong rush into an uncertain future and spend some time thinking about these complex issues and their complex solutions, lest the question of whether or not we self destruct is answered in the affirmative? My feeling is that we don't need any more technological progress for a good long while. What we do need is to learn how to use what we already have wisely for the benefit of ALL living things. That is a task that will occupy us for generations to come, if we have the great good sense to take it on. We are fast running out of time, IMO.May 28, 2010 at 7:56 pm #1614985
"But what really irritates me are low flying fighter jets our of China Lake NS, or whever they take off from, in the Sierra canyons at high speed."
Oh, that I could carry with me into the Sierra a UL version of that exquisite fruit of our technological civilization, the Stinger. It's been a recurring fantasy of mine for years, watching a twisty trail of smoke disappear up the tailpipe of one of those A$$*&les ;}
Just a fantasy, obviously, but darn are they ever irritating.May 28, 2010 at 11:18 pm #1615013
@hikinggrannyLocale: Gateway to Columbia River Gorge
We have the same problem in the Pacific Northwest–generally Navy jets from Whidbey Island, WA. Last October I spent three days up the Entiat River Valley of N. Central Washington to admire the alpine larch in its full autumn glory. I really enjoyed being all alone (except for my dog) with only the sounds of nature (although the one instance in which a tree cracked and then fell over on a calm day was a bit scary!). Each day, about noon, a jet fighter came over at treetop level. It does happen to be illegal for the military to do that in a designated wilderness area, but that doesn't seem to bother them much. I've read of several cases of serious injury to horse riders when their mounts were spooked by such low-flying jets.May 29, 2010 at 10:02 am #1615064
@cbertLocale: N. California
in my opinion is compassion
we are born with the ingredients for it, but we must will ourselves to develop and make us of it
when we do, we validate our species
just about everything else is smoke and mirrors
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