Q is for Quietness

| April 14, 2014

The extent to which quietness operates within an environment directly contributes to how individuals comport themselves because aural stimulation is nearly unavoidable.

Based upon our interactions in class, if quietness persists after a few seconds, someone will say something about the current subject of discussion. Perhaps the space between our said statements evokes anxiety for some people—as if someone has to say something given the particular context of a graduate classroom.

I went to the MET on Friday. Throughout my time therein, most individuals, who either intimately engage with the different forms of art or passively observe them, do so rather quietly—murmuring with their peers, at best. In this context, the ‘proper’ means of communication suggests forgoing verbalization altogether. Additionally, I was going to use my headphones while in this museum, but I decided to not because perhaps I thought another form of art would disrupt my engagement with the ones exhibited on the walls.

Quietness itself can be soothing. I listen to a lot of music throughout the day. I am endeavoring to allow the sounds of my environment comfort me in lieu of instruments. Nevertheless, escaping aural stimulation is nearly impossible, unless one is deaf.

These lines from The Unbearable Lightness of Being fascinate me: “They walked back to the hotel throughout the streets of Rome. Because the Italians around them were making a racket, shouting and gesticulating, they could walk along in silence without hearing their silence” (Kundera 115). Sounds can simultaneously foster and combat quietness.

What might quietness say about us? Do we always need to recognize the ambiances in which we find ourselves?