Versions of Silence

Here’s the interesting thing. Apart from the definition of silence and the challenge presented by proposing a definition as “the absence of X”, there are a number of views on the “value” of silence.

  • Silence is something to seek, whether it is silence in the real world or silence in your inner world, as a concept of seeking quiet, away from distractions …
  • Silence is an absence of human created or machine created noise, and is to be valued by all. This is something to be valued, sought after and protected. There may be only 3 places in the US where this is achievable.
  • Silence in nature is a symptom of a problem, for the natural sounds are a testament to the health of the ecosystems – when these sounds are diminished or gone, this symbolises death of the natural world. This is similar to the previous view that silence is an absence of “human noise”, and one step further. This implies a lack of natural sound sources …
  • Silence is accepted as a base level of sound, above which it interferes with the processes of the person’s life or work. For example, people accommodate to street sounds, so their ‘sound floor’ of the urban hum is set as silent. Another example, film production sets have a sound floor, and ambience, just as any room does (or a cityscape as in the previous example) and that is an acceptable level for silence …
  • Silence is also perceived in context. Loud noise followed by very little noise implies silence. This is the manufactured perception of ‘an absence of sound’.