You the User
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My age of noise. Part One

notebook
on 2 July 2012

An age of noise.

A constant companion.

How time is spent, where and how I work, where and how I live, it’s either a battleground or a matter of choice. Many things I don’t really do anymore: live music, headphones, clubs, crowds. Always try and meet people in person rather than talk on a telephone. Where I walk, how I ask my family, my friends to talk to me, where I stand or sit when people are talking to me. This all takes planning. Reading and listening, really reading and listening requires proper concentration. Listening has become a job. This is how my age of noise rolls.

The battlegrounds are the everyday: the street, train stations, trains, buses. Automated noises and their complimentary announcements in spaces where the public meets and crowds are brutal, as though everyone has become hard of hearing overnight or that that is part of the plan. Concentrating was always work, but now it is a job. Writing is work, and now it is just harder. Working in an open office, silence is in fact deafening (and quite defeating), choices in music I listen to and how I listen to it, sleeping, thinking hard, walking is good, countryside is good.

Choices: music, where I sit

Careful thought goes into where I choose to stand/sit on different trains. Some have ear piercing auto-door closing signals, some have over amplified announcements always preceded by earache level single electronic ’notes’ (you’d swear that vindictive drivers have access to a volume control and access to making it louder out of some speakers than others). Without thorough and extensive research you are never quite sure at which point in a carriage you are going to be ’hit’. This gives you a general idea of my level of ’sound’ anxiety.

The experience of a dawn chorus is interrupted. The peace and quiet turned into a din. At this time, perhaps more than at any other, the sound of the sound, bursting out, beats me down.

I like doing nothing but I avoid doing nothing. Doing nothing is unavoidable. Bearing down on the sound of the sound only makes it more unavoidable. Just live with the sound of the sound.

In public places (especially trains) it can be difficult to discern where a noise is emanating from. The initial accusation will always point at the wirey guy with the cheap headphones who you could swear is listening to the most extreme European techno you have ever heard but then he gets off at the next stop and the noise remains and you realise either that the train is actually creating techno at a pitch and volume to drive cats up a wall. No one else around you seems to notice.

//@solle
//London


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