Monday, September 22, 2008

Sound apolocolypse?!?

I'm getting a little tired of the extremist points of view that keep arising when discussing Cage and his ideas/theories on music and silence. I don't think cell phones are the end of the world, I don't think sharing our music with those arround us is a personal attack, and I don't think people should be overly concerned with our "loss" of silence. The truth is, the soundscape is just changing, it isn't being destroyed. People are noisy. We have been from our beginning. What sounds we make and how we make them have changed,but even before cell phones, there were plenty of interruptions in libraries and other public places. If we were to take on a true Cagean philosophy of how it is changing we would just accept the sounds of text messaging as part of the soundscape, being no better or worse than the other sounds. Personally, I would prefer not to hear constant sounds from cell phones, but that is my taste, which Cage would encourage me to neglect.

Furthermore, I feel there is a big difference between experiencing silence and just having quiet. I do agree that silence and thought are linked, but I also feel that just because someone is in silence doesn't mean that thought is provoked. Some people may find the silence distracting, possibly causing them to think about too many things at once, or just nothing. In reference to the passage about psychiatry/counseling, I feel that silence isn't necessarily what helps the patient. It is rather that they have the oppertunity to think things out. Many people, including myself, think better when speaking. It's a way to organize thought, rather than have them float around in my head. In that way, complete silence is not good, for I am making noise in order to think clearly. Personally, I think disrupting the silence can in turn create a silence on the inside. By speaking out loud, and projecting some of our inner quarrels/thoughts we can achieve a quiet of the mind, therefore making more of a silence for ourselves. In a way, by composing music or expressing ourselves in any way creates that inner silence. So technically we have all made some version of 4'33". Perhaps if people would talk to themselves more, then we could avoid emotional breakdowns and other potentially harmful episodes that come from a lack of expression.

I would also like to address, more specifically the attack on cell phones. I do not, nor have I ever owned a cell phone, so I feel my opinion might be quite different than others. Sometimes it is a blessing to have that sense of freedom, by not constantly being "on call". However, I have been in a number of situations where a cell phone would have been very helpful. I think people who have them, or are simply given them by their parents, take for granted the benefits of a cell phone sometimes. I know that I would not use one as often as others because I do appreciate my privacy and my time alone, but, for instance, when the car you're riding in on the highway breaks down in the middle of the night in a bad storm and you are seven miles from the nearest exit and you have to hitchhike through the pouring rain, well, then it would be nice to have. The truth is, if cell phones are the biggest threat to our humanity, then we are living in a blest world. Cell phones and instant messaging and facebook will not be the downfall of our communication skills. I have more faith in people than to believe that we are all so fragile that we will one day not be able to talk to people in person, because we are so dependent on hiding behind the mask that is our computer screen. Rather, I feel that our new technology gives us a way to connect, and it also poses a challenge for us to continue communication with one another. I would much rather talk to people in person than on a phone or on the computer, but sometimes that is just not possible, and so I use other means to form closer and consistent relationships. Also, people are going to be rude no matter what devices they have. It doesn't take a cell phone for people to not really be listening. I think that just depends on the person.

And so, I hate to burst your bubble, but it's not the end of the world. Noise has always been there and always will be. Silence isn't always golden (Sometimes it might be green or blue or red), though it often is. My point is, even though using sound as a weapon scares me, and even though I may not like all the "noise" created by new technology, I think we have bigger problems to deal with. If people really needed more quiet, then they would find a way to get it. If our soundscapes were really effecting us so harshly, then people wouldn't live in cities. It comes down to taste in those aspects, and what we are able to survive and adapt to. With tastes, we have to ignore them to an extent if we want to live at peace with our ever changing environment. That isn't to say that you should totally give up your independent thought or opinion, but just merely accept that not every sound you hear you will like, and that the sounds/music that you like is not, nor will it ever be, totally the same as someone else's. So please.....relax.

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