Colin McEnroe Show: 'In Pursuit Of Silence'

“All sounds are, ultimately, servants and purveyors of silence.” - Thoreau

delphaber, Flickr Creative Commons
Colin McEnroe Show: In Pursuit of Silence
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Colin McEnroe Show: In Pursuit of Silence

George Prochnik joins us today to talk about our love/hate relationship with noise. 

But before that, here's a quick story.  

This guy joins Trappist monastery. Takes a vow of silence. The Abbot tells him, "After one year, you can come to me and say one word." A year goes by. The guy goes to the Abbot and says "The." The Abbot says, "Fine. Now you have to wait two more years before you can say another word." Two years pass. The guy goes to the Abbot and says, "Food." The Abbot says, "OK. After two more years, you can come to me and say one more word." Two years drag by. The guy goes to the Abbot and says, "Stinks." The Abbot looks at the guy and says, "You know, you've been here five years, and you've done nothing but complain."

I love that joke. Our guest today has been to that monastery and has ventured down to the double silent chamber of total silence. But most of the time, he lives in Brooklyn.  
Are we living with too much noise. Is silence sacred?

You can join the conversation. Where do you go when you want to pursue silence? Leave your comments below, e-mail or Tweet us @wnprcolin.



Listener E-mail from Peter

Enjoyed your show today with author George talking about the apparently inescapable and annoying level of noise all around us.

I was in Dunkin donuts last week and was only mildly annoyed that they had some lively music at moderately high volume playing. When I got to the counter to place my order I realized that the help behind the counter were talking quite loudly to each other (some business, some idle chatter) to make sure they could hear each over the ambient din around them.

Worse, their modus operandi was apparently not to respond to a customer until you screamed over the combined noise of their chatter and showed them you meant business (or were at least desperate for a donut fix).

Well my wife, of course, took Dunkin's side (no surprise - - that's what wives are for).

Sooooo....I was delighted to hear today's show!

Also, I was fortunate to have tuned in the day you were visited by the Buddhist monks who were camped out at Loomis Chaffee for the week. I couldn't believe my ears!

Four of my children graduated from Loomis, I'm a Buddhist and I live about 1 1/2 from the Loomis chapel where the monks were constructing that mandala. My wife and I made two visits and were quite captivated by these unique people.


Listener E-mail from Gary

How about bright lights at night? Fire and police cars have lights designed to be seen during the day yet they have them at full brightness at night. They over use them at that. This is also a play to create more personal space.

Consider an emergency vehicle that you encounter at night. The lights are so bright that you cannot see if someone in crossing the road. I can cite at least three incidents were someone got hurt for this man-made blind spot. What good are these emergency warnings if they create more hazard?