The Sound of Silence

picMike here – I edit The World Today at weekends and this is my first time on the blog – hello! Have a look at this great article by novelist Susan Hill about silence. She thinks we’re afraid of it. Are you?

I can’t remember the last time I sat in complete silence, but is that because I can’t find it… or because I don’t want to look for it? Either way, being a Londoner I think I need more of it.

So I’m sending presenter Rebecca Kesby, who is not known for keeping quiet, in search of peace perfect peace. And I’m keen to know where and how you find silence.

You can post here on the blog or email me your pictures

15 Responses to “The Sound of Silence”

  1. 1 Jim Newman
    June 4, 2009 at 21:44

    Hello again
    Physically there is no such thing as silence. For me silence is when my concience speaks to me and I can hear it.

  2. 2 Derek Aitken
    June 5, 2009 at 09:07

    Yes, I am afraid of the silence – especially of the silence that is caused by governments – couple of examples;
    1. the war crimes committed by coallition forces in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
    2. the UK justice system that allows killers to freely walk the streets but expects police to harass anyone taking photograghs in public places especially London.
    3. no response by the West to Israeli attrocities in Gaza.

  3. 3 Would be meditator
    June 5, 2009 at 10:09

    My experience has been that true profound silence comes from within one’s heart and mind. It happens when the mind and the emotions stop all their chatter and rest quietly. This is not easily achieved, but it can happen spontaneously or by learing to meditate correctly. Either way, knowing that depth of silence is one of the most real and moving experiences one can have in their life.

    For anyone who is interested, check out Rob Nairn’s little book Tranquil Mind 🙂

  4. June 5, 2009 at 13:35

    Salaam Mike… To me, silence simply means death… With my love… Yours forever, Lubna in Baghdad…

  5. 5 Gary Paudler
    June 5, 2009 at 14:42

    Yes, more silence please; both the monkey-mind inner kind and the absence of
    ambient noise. I live in the middle of 10 acres, it’s early morning and I hear lots of birds chirping, whistling and cawing, At night I hear frogs down in the creek and my dog snoring but always, like a rapids in a river, a construction site and a demolition derby the sound of California Highway 101 half a mile away.


  6. 6 Anon
    June 5, 2009 at 17:20

    Gary – you should be a poet 🙂

  7. 7 Anon
    June 5, 2009 at 17:25

    Oh yes forgot to say to Mike…
    try the highlands of Scotland.

  8. 8 mikeinnes76
    June 5, 2009 at 18:17

    Some great suggestions –

    Anon, I was in the Highlands of Scotland a couple of months ago – in fact, that’s where the photo at the top was taken!

    Lubna, if you’re right I hope it will be a while before I find silence.

    And Gary – where do you live? Sounds blissful…

  9. 9 jillian
    June 5, 2009 at 21:14

    I used to appreciate silence but now I hate it. I went deaf briefly a short while ago because of an accumulation of earwax (probably due to wearing my MP3 earphones for long periods). It was horrible because all I could hear was my body, my heart pumping, blood flowing, and stomach working, even my eyes blinking. I find I can still hear it now even though my hearing is back to normal and I am definitely uncomfortable if there is no ambient sound.

  10. 10 Nagual
    June 6, 2009 at 06:16

    If you are afraid of silence, read the “Power of Silence” by Carlos Castaneda. Although the book may not make a lot of sense to you since it is the 8th volume of a 12 volume work by Castaneda. So I recommend that you read the first 7 volumes of his work, before reading his “power of silence.”

  11. 11 janet
    June 6, 2009 at 07:38

    Gary, sounds just lovely. Just my cup of tea. My folks used to have a home on a lake in Northwest Missouri. I would go out on the lake very early in the morning when the sun was sitting on the horizon in a row boat. All you could hear was the soft undisturbed water before the water became choppy from boats and skiers. I would sometimes see a crane was standing fishing in the water or hear an occasional fish jump. It has always been a pleasant memory of mine. It may not be complete silence, but it sure was peaceful.

    Complete silence would definitely be saddening.

  12. 12 Tom D Ford
    June 8, 2009 at 19:27

    I worked a mile inside a mountain in a hard rock mine in Silverton, Colorado, and one time my working partner left to go get something so I turned off my miners lamp and just sat still for about twelve minutes or so. It was completely quiet.

    What I found interesting though was in that complete darkness, I had small bright flashes of light in my eyes and I wondered if my brain created them or if it was from radiation from the rock or from gamma rays from space, I never figured that out.

  13. 13 Anon
    June 9, 2009 at 09:09

    Tom – my daughter used to describe the very same thing happening in her eyes and I puzzled about it too. (but not a mile underground!)

    Then she taught me how to look at the ‘little dancing lights’ rather than see through them. And they are there! I’m not a physician but I think it’s to do with the way eyes send impulses to the brain. Interesting and rather lovely nonetheless.

    As someone who absolutely hates being underground, what amazes me though is that you were comfortable with being in such an enclosed and deep place. My idea of a nightmare! Was the silence peaceful or oppressive?

  14. 14 Tom D Ford
    June 9, 2009 at 18:09

    @ Anon
    June 9, 2009 at 09:09

    “… Was the silence peaceful or oppressive?”

    That is interesting about the lights. I’ll have to pay more attention now.

    As to silence, it was just an experiment. The mine has lots of loud machines and everyone wears earplugs. There are ore trains, miners operating jack-leg drills (like a jackhammer in above ground construction) in many different shafts, miners building shoring out of timbers and drilling rock bolts to prevent cave-ins, etc. I worked a bit away from everyone else on a drill, long-holing, that is drilling to see where the ore veins go so the engineers can design how to follow the ore.

    I took out my earplugs and just sat and I was surprised at how quiet it was, I had thought that the mining sounds would bounce around the rock tunnels and be loud everywhere but it was stunningly dead quiet. Given the normal noise, I guess that the silence was peaceful and relaxing.

    It seems like above ground there is always some sound going on.

    As an aside, I worked several years building movie theatres and doing everything possible to soundproof every room but the sound engineers say that if it is too quiet people get uneasy, so they introduce ambient sounds while people are waiting for the movie to start.

  15. 15 Anon (started using Ann on other blogs)
    June 10, 2009 at 07:23

    Hi again Tom – That’s really interesting about the introduction of ambient sound in movie theatres. There do seem to be certain places where silence can be uncomfortable (doctors waiting rooms or sharing lifts – I always get the urge to tell a rude joke to lighten the atmosphere). I wonder how much of the discomfort is to do with the ‘type’ of silence or do do with social expectations in a given environment… People often seem very soothed and calmed by the silence of a cathedral where it is quiet enough to hear a pin drop. I’m nor sure if it’s due to the particular acoustics, or whether we simply expect to be silent in such a place.

    Ps I thought it was a shame your original comment was removed from the debate about Israeli settlements. It seemed to me one of the deeper and heartfelt observations on the issue. A non offensive comment of mine was not approved either – I was merely pointing out the absurdity of someone’s argument. It was ironic, but I guess could be interpreted as sarcastic. I wonder to what extent anti-semitism sensitivities silences real debate on the Middle East conflict.

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