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In Pursuit of Silence: Listening for Meaning in a World of Noise

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In Pursuit of Silence: Listening for Meaning in a World of Noise Cover

ISBN13: 9780385528887
ISBN10: 0385528884
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Review-A-Day

"The first widely observed national moment of silence occurred in Britain in 1919, in commemoration of the nation's inaugural Armistice Day. For two minutes, switchboard operators declined to connect telephone calls, subway cars and factory wheels ground to a halt, and ordinary citizens held their tongues. Within 10 years, the somber annual tradition had grown so popular that the BBC began to air the sound of the silence. One broadcaster mused that the communal silence served as a "solvent which destroys personalities and gives us leave to be great and universal." Megan Buskey, The Wilson Quarterly (read the entire Wilson Quarterly review)

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

More than money, power, and even happiness, silence has become the most precious — and dwindling — commodity of our modern world.

Between iPods, music-blasting restaurants, earsplitting sports stadiums, and endless air and road traffic, the place for quiet in our lives grows smaller by the day. In Pursuit of Silence gives context to our increasingly desperate sense that noise pollution is, in a very real way, an environmental catastrophe. Listening to doctors, neuroscientists, acoustical engineers, monks, activists, educators, marketers, and aggrieved citizens, George Prochnik examines why we began to be so loud as a society, and what it is that gets lost when we can no longer find quiet.  He shows us the benefits of decluttering our sonic world.

As Prochnik travels across the United States and overseas, we meet a rich host of characters: an idealistic architect who is pioneering a new kind of silent architecture in collaboration with the Deaf community at Gallaudet University; a special operations soldier in Afghanistan (and former guitarist with Nirvana) who places silence at the heart of survival in war; a sound designer for shopping malls who ensures that the stores we visit never stop their auditory seductions; and a group of commuters who successfully revolted against piped-in music in Grand Central Station.

A brilliant, far-reaching exploration of the frontiers of noise and silence, and the growing war between them, In Pursuit of Silence is an important book that will appeal to fans of Michael Pollan and Daniel Gilbert.

Book News Annotation:

Yes, the world is getting noisier, and yes, silence is increasingly hard to find, argues George Prochnik. In this inquiry into noise and silence, the author examines how present-day life has gotten so loud and what we all lose when we're unable to find quiet. Among the people that reader will meet in this book are an architect who is collaborating with the deaf community at Gallaudet University to create a new kind of silent architecture; a soldier in Afghanistan who places silence at the heart of survival in war; a sound designer for shopping malls who ensures that stores never stop their auditory assault on our senses, and a group of commuters who kept background music out of Grand Central Station. Prochnik's well thought out case for silence will appeal to anyone interested the health and environmental effects of an ever more noisy world, or just in cutting down on the stresses in their own life. Annotation ©2010 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Synopsis:

More than money, power, and even happiness, silence has become the most precious—and dwindling—commodity of our modern world. 

 

Between iPods, music-blasting restaurants, earsplitting sports stadiums, and endless air and road traffic, the place for quiet in our lives grows smaller by the day.  In Pursuit of Silence gives context to our increasingly desperate sense that noise pollution is, in a very real way, an environmental catastrophe.  Listening to doctors, neuroscientists, acoustical engineers, monks, activists, educators, marketers, and aggrieved citizens, George Prochnik examines why we began to be so loud as a society, and what it is that gets lost when we can no longer find quiet.  He shows us the benefits of decluttering our sonic world. 

 

As Prochnik travels across the United States and overseas, we meet a rich host of characters: an idealistic architect who is pioneering a new kind of silent architecture in collaboration with the Deaf community at Gallaudet University; a special operations soldier in Afghanistan (and former guitarist with Nirvana) who places silence at the heart of survival in war; a sound designer for shopping malls who ensures that the stores we visit never stop their auditory seductions; and a group of commuters who successfully revolted against piped-in music in Grand Central Station.

 

A brilliant, far-reaching exploration of the frontiers of noise and silence, and the growing war between them, In Pursuit of Silence is an important book that will appeal to fans of Michael Pollan and Daniel Gilbert.

 

About the Author

George Prochnik is the author of Putnam Camp: Sigmund Freud, James Jackson Putnam, and the Purpose of American Psychology, a New York Times "Editor's Choice" pick and winner of a 2007 Gradiva Award. He has written for the New York Times, the Boston Globe, Playboy, and Cabinet magazine, among other publications. He lives in Brooklyn.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 1 comment:

Bevan, July 28, 2010 (view all comments by Bevan)
This is as important a topic as any. Noise damages us physically, and eventually diminishes our humanity. We slowly lose the ability to hear detail and nuance in music, language, and nature. On top of that we are losing our attention span, due mostly to the endless penny arcade of those shouting and babbling in mass media.
The penny arcade promises instant gratification. But you have to buy something which is usually junk. Thus you will later discard it and buy some more upgraded junk.
is that all there is to human existence?

If that is not what we want, then maybe we have to change a few things. It might be good to start with looking at why people seek out loud noise (an attempt to grab some fake ecstasy to alleviate the numbness from the dull routine of most corporate jobs, or an attempt to escape bad personal surroundings, etc.)
It might be good to follow the author's advice to create more places in public life for silence, for instance.
Banning leaf blowers, changing our modes of transportation and construction, thinking about the damage sound amplification does (And in music, amplification can cover up a lack of talent), and other actions might be a good start.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780385528887
Author:
Prochnik, George
Publisher:
Doubleday Books
Subject:
Silence
Subject:
Noise -- Psychological aspects.
Subject:
Mental health
Subject:
General
Subject:
General Social Science
Subject:
Psychology : General
Copyright:
Publication Date:
20100431
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
352
Dimensions:
8.50x6.52x1.26 in. 1.07 lbs.

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Related Subjects

Health and Self-Help » Psychology » General
History and Social Science » Sociology » General

In Pursuit of Silence: Listening for Meaning in a World of Noise Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$9.95 In Stock
Product details 352 pages Doubleday Books - English 9780385528887 Reviews:
"Review A Day" by , "The first widely observed national moment of silence occurred in Britain in 1919, in commemoration of the nation's inaugural Armistice Day. For two minutes, switchboard operators declined to connect telephone calls, subway cars and factory wheels ground to a halt, and ordinary citizens held their tongues. Within 10 years, the somber annual tradition had grown so popular that the BBC began to air the sound of the silence. One broadcaster mused that the communal silence served as a "solvent which destroys personalities and gives us leave to be great and universal." (read the entire Wilson Quarterly review)
"Synopsis" by , More than money, power, and even happiness, silence has become the most precious—and dwindling—commodity of our modern world. 

 

Between iPods, music-blasting restaurants, earsplitting sports stadiums, and endless air and road traffic, the place for quiet in our lives grows smaller by the day.  In Pursuit of Silence gives context to our increasingly desperate sense that noise pollution is, in a very real way, an environmental catastrophe.  Listening to doctors, neuroscientists, acoustical engineers, monks, activists, educators, marketers, and aggrieved citizens, George Prochnik examines why we began to be so loud as a society, and what it is that gets lost when we can no longer find quiet.  He shows us the benefits of decluttering our sonic world. 

 

As Prochnik travels across the United States and overseas, we meet a rich host of characters: an idealistic architect who is pioneering a new kind of silent architecture in collaboration with the Deaf community at Gallaudet University; a special operations soldier in Afghanistan (and former guitarist with Nirvana) who places silence at the heart of survival in war; a sound designer for shopping malls who ensures that the stores we visit never stop their auditory seductions; and a group of commuters who successfully revolted against piped-in music in Grand Central Station.

 

A brilliant, far-reaching exploration of the frontiers of noise and silence, and the growing war between them, In Pursuit of Silence is an important book that will appeal to fans of Michael Pollan and Daniel Gilbert.

 

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