This is another article I wrote up for WVAU.org. Since you guys liked the last music article, I figured I could post up another one.
The Sound of Self
Austin R Ryan
Almost everyone covets complete silence. I have talked to so many people who put both headphones in just so they might avoid collecting unnecessary scraps of conversation. Airlines often give out complementary devices meant to negate sound. As a species, we have developed the ear plug for no other reason than to seek out silence. Sure, there are a few people who relish constant noise, but overall that breathtaking absence of noise is another mental medicine we seek. However, very few of us have ever truly come close to delving into complete and utter silence. Noise canceling headphones do not eliminate all sounds, and ear buds still let in air. No device gave us absolute silence, that is, until some scientists fashioned a 99.99% sound absorbent room.
Seems wonderful right? How many times have you wished for complete silence that might allow you to find some peace of mind? In a constantly cluttered space littered with the endless press of visual and auditory stimulus, a place of complete silence might seem enough to get the most eschew head turned straight. Well, the truth is that you cannot escape sound. The presence of nothing is so foreign that it can hardly be imagined. An endless sea of white, images of some purgatory, come to mind at the drop of the word “nothing”, but that white purgatory is still something. Naturally, complete nothing even in terms of sound sends your mind reeling. Nothing in the world has prepared us for nothing.
So what happens? Your mind simply changes what your ears pick up. No longer do you hear the white noise of sweeping wind and scuffling seats. Instead you hear your heartbeat in perfect detail, your lungs belch out air and the sound of acid swashing up against the rims of your stomach. Those exposed to the room that would make us confront some small aspect of the empty have reportedly hallucinated after just small visits to the room. The record for longest stay in solid silence stands at a scant forty five minutes.
After The Daily Mail reported this little bit of tech news, a genuine wave of shocks sprinted through my spine. A part of me wondered if our musical race of beings could not handle the pieces compose by our own biology. Another part of me felt as though we grasped a small piece of purgatory. Every fiber of my being paled as a realization dawned upon me: that the world would collapse in less than an hour, if it were held up by nothing more than the rhythms of our own bodies. After the shock receded, I felt absurdly grateful for every song that graced my ear and every bit of wind that whistled in my direction.
If you would like to read more about the effects of this sound-absorbent room:
If you want to absorb that sweet ambient sound that’s keeping you sane: