Marc Weidenbaum on forms of noise:
I am very much the sort of person who is aggravated by sounds as seemingly tiny as the hard drive chatter on the Tivo in my living room, and by the throb of one particular fluorescent bulb that’s recessed into cabinets in my kitchen. When I bought my first iPod, I was stunned by how “loud” the hard drive was when I first turned it on (I was also a little unnerved by the device’s physical vibrations). When I switched from a desktop to a laptop years ago, my primary motivation was the relative quiet of the laptop’s internal fan. When I moved from one part of my neighborhood to another a year and a half ago, the noise level of the street was a deciding factor. (I liked one other house, until I noticed that a neighboring yard had a large cement structure that turned out to be a giant fish tank — just the thought of the sort of constant sound inherent in maintaining such a system nixed that option immediately.) I am very much the sort of person who has been kept awake all night thanks to a radio on a neighboring construction site that wasn’t fully turned off. But in the end, I simply don’t think of noise and silence as polar opposites, perhaps because I’ve read too much Cage and believe silence is an illusion.
Marc is reacting to George Prochnik’s book, In Pursuit of Silence, and its corresponding blog, which pursues silence across categories (or as he notes in an earlier post it might be less about pursuing silence than about escaping noise). Today, as New York City took to the streets, clustering around Apple stores, organizing itself in squares on blankets in parks, others in lines at churches for palms and around tables for family dinners, the city was not quiet but overlapping with sounds — birds upon hot dogs upon taxis upon church bells upon dog barks. But the pockets where people clustered were quiet, a form of noise.