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  • Writer's pictureThe Gaudie

On the silence of this world

An extract

by Magi Tenon

Courtesy of Benjamin Suter

It is a bustling world. From our civilisations has flourished the machine which exists solely to accelerate time, so that we may not spend so much of it waiting. Amongst the smoke and the gears, the buses and the motors, the phones and the photos, the fuss and the rush, the buzz and roar of the city, the noise of technology, modern times are never modern for too long; the Atomic Era whizzes past us before we had a chance to look at it, the city has become electrifying, and it speeds and darts and whirls, and it grows faster and faster every day that passes. Like fire, it was nothing more than a feeble spark, next a flickering flame, then a mighty blaze ready to burn down a forest. 

Amongst the uproar, the noise and the hassle, I ask this: are we missing something? Could it be that we are ever so focused on how much faster we are going that we are blind to all that is not quite as fast? Are there not many things on this world that cannot keep up with the rhythm of the machine? I do think there is a beauty in the romantic and glorious roar of the city and the celebration of humanity's achievements in technology, I do.

But our lives are a constant, unresting rush, a flow which never tires. We never quite stop; we never quite sit still, in silence. Though there are many advantages to this rapidness the machine can lend us, it is up to you and me to raise the question, the possibility, that perhaps all is not well, all could be better. That perhaps all of this Noise is too loud, and that we can quite hear the Silence, and that perhaps we quite miss Silence.

But what is Noise? What is Silence? I have to emphasize strongly that I do not use these words with their common meaning. I do not talk of soundwaves or lack thereof. So, to begin explaining my idea to you, I find no better place to start than to define my meanings of Silence and Noise. To explain these two terms, you must understand that I divide life into two types of possible states: Silence and Noise. Throughout our lives, we can find ourselves living in either of those states, and we constantly change between them. Remember, Silence is not the absence of sound, it is rather the absence of Noise. Noise is the disturbance of Silence. To understand Silence then, it is best to first define Noise.

Nowadays at least, we mostly live in a state of Noise. Noise is the disturbance of Silence, it is movement, updates, change. When an environment is in constant change or update, when it is always receiving new information that did not exist there before, it is an environment of Noise. Noise is the bustling of the city, it is to mindlessly pick up the phone or switch on the television. It is to be distracted. [We become wilfully unaware of our existence and the expanding universe. It is the damn we construct to resist the existential crisis flooding in. In our state of distraction, we are blind to the burden of absolute freedom; we are shielded from all malevolent forms of existential anguish]. 

Technology has offered instantaneous distraction. Instantaneousness is the fastest way out of Manchester. It is a cheap pleasure we can achieve easily and simply, without much or no effort at all. The pleasure achieved in Instantaneousness is addictive. But it is so unimportant, so worthless, that we shall only taste it once, for any more of it and it shall cease to satisfy us any longer. It is nothing more than a little dip of the toe, a drop of pleasure that dries on our tongue. Had it been any harder to achieve this drop, we would not seek it. But it is the ease in which we can achieve this pleasure that makes it ever so addicting. All we must do is look at our phones, or switch the television on. On those devices, things are happening all the time, and it is an instant away. The digital machine is designed to give us an ocean with the depth of a paddling pool.

It must be clear that Silence is not the absence of sound, but rather the absence of Noise. It is in no way an intellectual endeavour. It is instead an existential realisation; a realisation of one’s being. It can be a profound and conscious feeling of oneness, a holistic sensation with all that is, has been and will be. It may also be the stark feeling of alienation, the perception of a fragmented soul. Whatever it may be, it is an introverted response to the universe. It is the mass deconstruction of meaning. 

We are, as Camus says, much like Sisyphus rolling the boulder up the hill eternally, always to watch it roll down again. We do the same when we search for happiness; we try our best to be happy but never quite succeed. As Sisyphus must accept that the bolder shall never stay up top, we must accept that we will never achieve full happiness; and as Sisyphus persists, we must too. But Sisyphus never pretends he isn't rolling up a bolder, he never ignores it or forgets it. Sisyphus is never distracted, and we must never be distracted either. For in Distraction we shall never find happiness or joy, it is simply to ignore our anxieties. It is a limbo; a place between Hell and Paradise – Sadness and Joy.

Vladimir's final exasperation after the long silence is a perfect example of the fear of Silence, the need for distraction - Say something!”

Estragon: In the meantime, let's try and converse calmly since we're incapable of keeping silent.

Vladimir: You're right, we're inexhaustible.

Estragon: It's so we won't think.

Vladimir: We have that excuse.

Estragon: It's so we won't hear.

Vladimir: We have our reasons.

Estragon: All the dead voices.

Vladimir: They make a noise like wings.

Estragon: Like leaves.

Vladimir: Like sand.

Estragon: Like leaves.


Vladimir: They speak all at once.

Estragon: Each one to itself.


Vladimir: Rather they whisper.

Estragon: They rustle.

Vladimir: They murmur.

Estragon: They rustle.


Vladimir: What do they say?

Estragon: They talk about their lives.

Vladimir: To have lived is not enough for them.

Estragon: They have to talk about it.

Vladimir: To be dead is not enough for them.

Estragon: It is not sufficient.


Vladimir: They make a noise like feathers.

Estragon: Like leaves.

Vladimir: Like ashes.

Estragon: Like leaves.

(Long silence).

Vladimir: Say something!


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