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 Post subject: Adbuster's Take on Noise: SPCR's "Anthem?!"
PostPosted: Mon May 10, 2004 7:34 pm 
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Perhaps some of you are familiar with Kalle Lasn, one of the founders of Adbusters (http://www.adbusters.org). He published a book called Culture Jam in 1999. In it is a chapter on The Ecology of Mind, and the first section in this "survey of the threats to our ecology of mind" is on NOISE. I quote the entire section, verbatim, begging the author's permission...

Kalle Lasn in Culture Jam (1999) wrote:
Noise

In 1996, the World Health Organization declared noise to be a significant health problem, one that causes physiological changes in sleep, blood pressure and digestion. It's now understood that noise doesn't have to be loud to do damage.

For thousands of generations, the ambient noise was rain and wind and people talking. Now the sound track of the world is vastly different. Today's noise is all-spectrum, undecodable. More and more people suffer the perpetual buzz of tinnitus - a ringing in the ears caused by exposure to a loud noise (or in some cases, just by aging). One of the treatments for tinnitus is to fit sufferers with a hearing aid that broadcasts white noise. The brain learns to interpret white noise as a background distraction, like traffic sounds, and filters it out along with the tinnitus. The brain works that way for the rest of us as well. The "whiter" the sound in our environment gets, the more we dismiss it as background and stop hearing it. Ultimately, everything becomes background noise and we hear almost nothing.

Noise is probably the best understood of the mental pollutants. It's really the only one to which the term "mental pollution" has already been applied. From the dull roar of rush-hour traffic to the drone of your fridge to the buzz coming out of your computer, various kinds of noise (blue, white, pink, black) are perpetually seeping into our mental environment. To make matters worse, the volume is constantly being cranked up. Two, perhaps three generations have already become stimulation addicted. Can't work without background music. Can't jog without a Discman. Can't study without the TV on. Our neurons are continuously massaged by Muzak and the hum of monitors. The essence of our postmodern age may be found in that kind of urban score. Trying to make sense of the world above the din of our wired world is like living next to a freeway-you get used to it, but at a much diminished level of mindfulness and wellbeing.

Quiet feels foreign now, but quiet may be just what we need. Quiet may be to a healthy mind what clean air and water and a chemical-free diet are to a healthy body. In a clean mental environment, we may find our mood disorders subsiding. It's no longer easy to manufacture quietude, nor is it always practical to do so. But there are ways to pick up the trash in your mindscape: Switch off the TV set in your dentist's waiting room. Lose that noisy fridge. Turn off the stereo. Put your computer under the table. Poet Marianne Moore contends that the deepest feeling always shows itself in silence. I think she's got it right.

In some ways, those of us who feel addicted to quiet (at least a quiet computer) are, in fact, not addicted at all; rather we are instinctively (or consciously, in some cases) rejecting the artificial noise of the modern world. Perhaps for some of us, this is our only stand against it.

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Last edited by MikeC on Sun Dec 14, 2008 8:10 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon May 10, 2004 8:07 pm 
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If there ever was to be an anthem, a mantra, for SPCR, that would be as close to it as I can ever imagine reading.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue May 11, 2004 11:47 am 
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Nice find, MikeC

Asking the author's permission to do so - would this mayhap be worth of going on the actual SPCR www-site, in a section of "Why Silent PC's are important" or "Why silence is GOOD for you?" ?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jun 09, 2004 9:01 pm 
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Yes, I agree that this should be a section as well, good idea.


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 19, 2004 7:20 pm 
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Except for the mosquitos, going out into the country or out on the water is amazing. It's much more natural.

Hopefully corporations will catch on that workers are more productive when they aren't blocking modern noises.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Apr 07, 2005 11:00 am 
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Trip wrote:
Except for the mosquitos, going out into the country or out on the water is amazing. It's much more natural.

Hopefully corporations will catch on that workers are more productive when they aren't blocking modern noises.


I agree but nature can get annoying some days to, particularly crickets! I hate those buggers sometimes, but yes quiet is nice and that's a good write up on noise. :)


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 07, 2005 2:25 pm 
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Talz wrote:
I agree but nature can get annoying some days to, particularly crickets! I hate those buggers sometimes, but yes quiet is nice and that's a good write up on noise. :)

You hate crickets? That's weird, I love the way they sound, at least when there are a whole bunch of them. I can see how just one solitary cricket can get annoying, though. And for me, there is nothing more relaxing that the sound of cicadas on a hot, lazy summer afternoon. Maybe I'm just weird. :shock:

Hey, is it just me, or is the sound of "canned" white noise really annoying? I am talking about tapes of waves rolling, birds singing, rain falling, that type thing. To me, it just sounds totally artificial.


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 07, 2005 3:01 pm 
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I don't see how it could be anything but, after all generally these 'white noise' sources are affected by all kinds of things (bouncing off cliffs or buildings etc) by the time it reaches your ear. I don't think there's an easy way to record that, and few people are going to attempt to do it better than a couple of microphones. IMHO.

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 08, 2005 8:34 am 
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alglove wrote:
Hey, is it just me, or is the sound of "canned" white noise really annoying? I am talking about tapes of waves rolling, birds singing, rain falling, that type thing. To me, it just sounds totally artificial.


For starters, we don't yet have equipment that can really record, say, the full spectrum of a heavy rainfall and reproduce it accurately. (Speculation says that the problem is more on the reproduction end than the recording end, but how can you be sure?) Secondly, when the listening environment moves from a huge outdoor area with plenty of space for sound to dissipate or echo to a small enclosed space with lots of parallel surfaces and no ambience....well, you get the picture. But yeah, it's really annoying, and certainly no substitute for the real thing.


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 20, 2005 11:22 pm 
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Quote:
For starters, we don't yet have equipment that can really record, say, the full spectrum of a heavy rainfall and reproduce it accurately. (Speculation says that the problem is more on the reproduction end than the recording end, but how can you be sure?)


It's entirely on the reproduction end. Digital recording recently reached the 24-bit standard which goes far-and-away beyond what the human ear is capable of detecting. However, standard speakers that reproduce sound from only one, two, even eight single positions lacks the all-encompasing effect that being out surrounded by literally thousands of sources. Technology is coming into its own recently, however, with panel-speakers which can resonate at many different points and could theoretically (we're talking a loooong ways away from a practical standpoint) be built into entire walls.

Good points are made. Ad-Busters is a decent publication though some of their stuff has me wondering exactly who it is that is really behind the magazine.


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 21, 2005 9:19 am 
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Not entirely. The problem is in the microphones, before the signal becomes digitized. If you've ever tried recording rain, you'll find that it just sounds like static. As far as I can tell, the main problem is that microphones never have quite the same frequency response as the human ear, and tend to overemphasize the higher frequencies, which reduces the definition of the sound and blends it together. The best technique for recording rain that I've found is to fake it by sticking a microphone under an umbrella and allowing just a few drops to land on the umbrella. This prevents the sheer number of drops from overwhelming the microphone and ruining the definition.


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 Post subject: Adbuster's Take on NOISE: SPCR's "Anthem?!"
PostPosted: Tue Feb 07, 2006 7:12 pm 
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I couldn't agree with the author more. I have tinnitus, and I'm almost certain it was caused by long-term exposure to PCs in my career as a software developer of PC games. I tried the therapy mentioned and, in my case, it made the tinnitus worse!

I found other solutions to my health problem, but I'm now on a mission to educate people about quiet PCs.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Feb 08, 2006 4:38 am 
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Quote:
I found other solutions to my health problem


I thought tinnitus was incurable? How are you coping with your condition? (interested because one of my friends has tinnitus and it's driving him slowly crazy)


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 08, 2006 5:13 am 
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It's been a combination losing weight, exercising, avoiding certain foods, and, of course, eliminating any unnecessary noise from my life (a quiet PC!).

To give your friend some hope (though not immediate), my initial research into tinnitus informed me that that an individual gets *used to it* after about 2 years. This has also been true in my case, maybe a bit longer.

I can go into WAY more detail if you want to contact me off-forum.

There is no general cure, but there are individual partial solutions and an opportunity for a truce.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Mar 13, 2008 3:35 am 
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Might anyone have a link to the source of this WHO report? I'd be very interested in reading it, thanks.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Mar 13, 2008 6:47 am 
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The 161-page 10mb pdf document is here: http://whqlibdoc.who.int/hq/1999/a68672.pdf

This is the current WHO summary on occupational & community noise:
http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs258/en/

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Support SPCR by buying your gear through these links: NCIX, Amazon and Newegg


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 Post subject: Re: Adbuster's Take on NOISE: SPCR's "Anthem?!"
PostPosted: Thu Mar 13, 2008 8:48 am 
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Kalle Lasn in Culture Jam (1999) wrote:
Quiet feels foreign now, but quiet may be just what we need. Quiet may be to a healthy mind what clean air and water and a chemical-free diet are to a healthy body.


Chemical-free diets are fatal, not healthy.


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 23, 2008 2:04 pm 
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I like that mantra very much ^_^

Dan


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 Post subject: Re: Adbuster's Take on NOISE: SPCR's "Anthem?!"
PostPosted: Wed Jun 18, 2008 8:15 pm 
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Jeff Cutsinger wrote:
Kalle Lasn in Culture Jam (1999) wrote:
Quiet feels foreign now, but quiet may be just what we need. Quiet may be to a healthy mind what clean air and water and a chemical-free diet are to a healthy body.


Chemical-free diets are fatal, not healthy.
You, sir, are a gentleman and a scholar.


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 14, 2008 7:16 pm 
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If you enjoyed the Adbusters piece you might like this more radical analysis of our noisy, techno-industrial culture by John Zerzan.

Silence
(http://www.greenanarchy.org/index.php?action=viewwritingdetail&returnto=viewjournal&printIssueId=22&writingId=666)

Quote:
Silence used to be, to varying degrees, a means of isolation. Now it is the absence of silence that works to render today’s world empty and isolating. Its reserves have been invaded and depleted. The Machine marches globally forward and silence is the dwindling place where noise has not yet penetrated.

Civilization is a conspiracy of noise, designed to cover up the uncomfortable silences. The silence-honoring Wittgenstein understood the loss of our relationship with it. The unsilent present is a time of evaporating attention spans, erosion of critical thinking, and a lessened capacity for deeply felt experiences. Silence, like darkness, is hard to come by; but mind and spirit need its sustenance.


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