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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Celebrate the beatitude of quietude, solitude

Thomas Moore’s column, "My Quest for Silence" in the January-February 2009 issue of Spirituality and Health is available online after free registration. Moore writes,
"The effect of hearing a waterfall cascading in the woods is similar to catching a glimpse of a sunset at the just the right moment. It’s captivating. It captures you and takes you to a refreshing place that you rarely find in the rush of daily life.

We might think of this as a form of synesthesia: where one sensory experience evokes an entirely different one. Listen to Ferde Grofé’s Grand Canyon Suite and try not to picture beautiful scenery. Eat a perfect square of dark chocolate and don’t say anything about velvet. The same is true of sound and quiet. A certain painting may be quieter than an empty room and another as noisy as Times Square.

We can use this property of aesthetics to give our world the peace and quiet our souls need. We could make the most of architectural quiet — empty corners, lofted ceilings, muted colors — this last one a good expression of synesthesia. We could avoid placing noisy transportation near living spaces. We could give more attention to the noise that machines make."
He observes, "We live by a philosophy that hasn’t seen the connection between noise and immorality, illness, and existential angst. Silence resides in our vast unconscious. We are not aware yet of its value and purpose."

Moore jokes about getting a job with an automaker (he’s a Detroit native) to perfect a quiet car. Given the auto industry today, he may be hired if such a vehicle proves to sell well. Spirituality and Health invites readers' comments at the end of the column.

Read Moore's 2005 contribution to Resurgence magazine, "The Silence of Sounds."

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