Thursday, April 8, 2021

Thursday Thoughts...

“What I’m experiencing in these moments is bleedover, collateral aggravation from the personal consumer choices of others. Living in metropolitan areas, we all experience bleedover. To drown it out, I’ll put on my own headphones, perhaps creating the same problem for others — and so on, in a domino effect of disturbed privacies. This minor incident, which we might pass over in silence as a mere inconvenience of modern life, in fact indicates a disturbing aspect of our culture. This is the ubiquity of private noise, the way we use sound to be alone.” 

From The Atlantic’s “The Sound of Solitude ” by Brian Patrick Eha.

This quote has been in my pile for a VERY long time.  It appears on page 28 of what has now become a 105 page document, so I scrolled way back this morning and was interested that I chose it (at last).

I chose it (I think) because we have moved from our block into town. We kind of jumped from a large solitary space to living more closely and alongside folk.  I would have to say my deepest fear was noise.  I live quietly, I adore silence, I am startled by loud noises, I despair at repetitive deep bass thrumming, and I just generally am no fan of noise.

For the record it has been a great move and I always say to people - it's so quiet!  Yay.  

I loved the phrasing here of "a domino effect of disturbed privacies". It was so evocative and accurate. I could imagine the additional hum and buzz that each set of headphones added as we try to be alone in our bubble of noise. Headphones signal to others that we are occupied and unavailable for disturbance or interaction.  So I wonder is it about the noise or is it about not having to engage with people?

The ubiquity of private noise? Or the need to be alone? 

I quite like a bit of background noise as I potter - podcasts are great for listening along to; and in some circumstances I may use that listening as companionship; whilst also as a warning to others in diffenret setting.  The same way I use the reading of a book in public to indicate I'm not up for conversation.  So many funny things to think about in this one quote and I daresay I have done none of them justice!

Detail of our final Pas de Deux collaborative book - Silence. Calligraphy by Fiona and Etching by Susan.


  1. this page is such a perfect illustration of your discourse on silence and sound ... in the context of the quote (not necessarily the intent in the original work) the modulated letters speak to me not just of silence, but of intelligible sound in a clean white space, as contrasted with the randomness of the marks on either side, the "noise" in the equation (and here I'm thinking of barking dogs, lawnmowers, leaf blowers, sirens and revving engines ... all far more noticeable in the close proximity of our new neighborhood, but thankfully less so than we feared)

    being hearing impaired, I can shut out the noise simply by taking off my hearing aids ... sadly, due to tinnitus, a "deep bass thrumming" is my constant companion ... and while I can't wear headphones, Don is incredibly considerate, using them to listen to music and sporting events, both of which can grate on the hearing aid mics after a while

    1. Thanks Liz - such a thoughtful response. I love that you can see what I tried to do with the words and their placement. Choosing the skeletal Romans with pressure release was also deliberate - their elegant simplicity (like silence) and their slight wispiness as well. I am glad your move has brought slightly less noise than feared - funny isn't it how we learn to enjoy our quiet places. Tinnitus must be a difficult companion at times; and learning to live with the interference of certain things with hearing aids is a bit of a tango isn't it? Go well.


I appreciate your thoughts and comments; thanks for taking the time.