Engulfed. A sea of noise drowns out all competitors and so plunges thoughts below the surface. Be carried by the current or struggle against it at your peril.
My wife won’t stand for commercials. They grate on her classically trained ears. I feel my best chance of returning to the ‘sunlit lands’ above the waves is to ignore them.
We each have cultivated sensitivities which require focus, and focus must be protected. As Schopenhauer relates, a diamond divided into shards loses all value. So too with thought or the serenity which accompanies its careful manifestations.
The city is no friend of the sound-sensitive, or smell- or sight-sensitive for that matter, but we are on the subject of sound. For Schopenhauer, it was the heedless and unceasing cracking of whips — a sound which paralyses the brain. Its current counterpart would be the car-horn: counterintuitively it demands another go when the sound screams halt. And so it has not the desired effect, resulting in a chorus of replying honks. Or, an incomprehensible blaring of directions must be shouted at us until the warning it is meant to deliver is blocked out with all other such noisea.
As a teacher I have well marked that my best chance of regaining control of the classroom is not to shout over the students, but to grow quieter and firmly signal my intent to speak. A nudge effects more than a shove, unless we are living in a world of shoves.
But thought, if it is to be fruitful and worthy of discourse, must be checked and re-checked. New pathways must be explored and old ones unearthed. Most cultural output is too ready to speak and shows it has not listened. It cannot listen for it is merely shouting over the din and so becoming part of this oceanic violence.
Getting our attention for a fraction of a moment is considered just cause for violating our peace. My thought and your thought is not worth protecting when profit is to be made. It is everyone’s job to entertain us long enough to be marketed to.
But books are little better. Publishers, academic or otherwise, are less interested in the value of their product and its usefulness to the audience than in making a profit despite technological challenges.
That which is most helpful often is whispered, not shouted, and for the listener ear and ground must draw closer. But so long as profit is to be made from noise it must remain the primary occupation of thinkers to escape long enough to produce something.