An Epiphany of Senseless Cacophony?

An old friend of mine seems lately to have finally attained that hallowed state-of-being, that kingdom of quietude (or “quietus”), which can only be called Nirvana.  Yet his struggle was a long one, frequently disrupted by outbreaks of…Noise.  How did he overcome this spiritual pollution–once he had ultimately attained his Epiphany of Cacophony?  Perhaps these fragmentary notes from his daily journal, which is all that he left behind before he retreated into Silence, may offer an answer….

2:37 am:  Due to current atmospheric conditions, the never-ending stream of 18-wheeled tractor-trailers on the Interstate (⅓ mile away) is emitting a sustained roar.  Now hopelessly awake, I sit down to jot down these observations.

5:30 am:  Next-door neighbor just slammed his door, and is now revving-up his V-8 powered, dual-exhaust Ford pick-up.  (5:33 am: He backs out with a screech and roars up the hill, leaving behind a prodigious cloud of exhaust.)

6:18 am:  Municipal garbage truck screeches to a halt in front of the house and its mechanical “arm” scoops up and dumps my trash into its dumpster.

6:44 am:  Municipal recycling truck screeches to a halt in front of the house and its mechanical “arm” scoops up and dumps my plastic crap into its dumpster.

7:31 am:  Neighbor on the other side lets her dog out (fenced yard).  A large German shepherd, it commences running back-and-forth for the next 20 minutes, barking loudly and with monotonous regularity.

8:09 am:  This neighbor is now backing her V-8 powered, dual-exhaust Toyota pick-up out of her driveway; shifting forward, she accelerates quickly, hastening off to “work.”  (My own dog Siddhartha, barking madly, tries to climb the fence in an angry pursuit.)

8:30 am:  Lawn crew arrives at the house across the street.  Two giant mowing-machines, combined with a whining trimmer-apparatus and a grass-and-leaf blower, manage to generate some 150 db of sustained assault to the ears for the next half-hour.  (Good to see that the underpaid employees are at least wearing ear-covers.)

9:12 am:  Arrival of a ramshackle, jangling UPS truck around the corner disrupts these quiet reflections as Siddhartha, who despises UPS trucks, goes insane.  After barking in agitated frustration for 5 minutes, he calms down — until the phone rings and I find myself talking rather stridently to a tele-marketing robot.

9:48 am:  My friendly neighbor out back has elected this auspicious moment to turn on his 110-db leaf-blower, which will drone deafeningly for forty minutes or so–as he feels compelled to remove every single leaf from his ¼ acre property.  His angry Rotweiler accompanies this procedure, running back-and-forth and barking in angry protest.

10:11 am:  A bevy of motorcyclists — what sounds like a convoy! — drones Doppler-style along the Interstate for five minutes or so, generating surprising decibel-frequencies.

10:30 am: A retired fellow on the next block is outside now with his latest toy: a humming Drone…to spy on neighbors?…

11:23 am: A few houses down the street, a chain-saw is whining menacingly as tree branches plop discordantly to the ground.  A “landscaper” at work…

11:59 am:  Just now, a helicopter — police? commuter? — is roaring overhead at a surprisingly low altitude…

What-the-hell is all this?  Haven’t any of these morons heard of tranquillity, peace-of-mind, the serenity needed for quiet awareness of being alive and sentient and…?!

Addendum:  At this point, our friend’s entries abruptly end.  These days, he sometimes smiles, serenely and sadly, but no longer utters a word.  (“Why add to this senseless cacophony?” he seems to convey by his silence.)

William Manson is the author of The Psychodynamics of Culture (Greenwood Press). Read other articles by William.