By George Prochnik
George Prochnik has always been a lover of silence – wearing earplugs, ratting out contractors who start work early, befriending his neighbors so he could join the party instead of listening to it, and even calling the DVR company to ask about that strange buzzing sound. Even if you aren’t like George Prochnik, you might have noticed that we live in a very noisy society and it doesn’t seem to be getting quieter any time soon with technology filling in any gap that used to be filled with quiet. Instead of bemoaning the noise, Prochnik seeks out the reasons for silence, how we have become so loud, and what is left behind in all the noise.
Prochnik visits with a wonderful assortment of individuals. Doctors and neuroscientists, monks and nuns, educators, acoustic engineers, marketers, all weigh in on their experiences in the acoustic spectrum. Have you ever passed by a thumping Abercrombie & Fitch clothing store or heard the roar of a racecar track? In contrast, the author also visits with the Quakers and the “quietest house in the world.” Prochnik’s investigation also leans toward the spiritual and philosophical side because without silence we lack the space to ruminate, to wonder.
I have no doubt that you will reflect on the quality of your life and look for ways to find quiet. I found that I appreciate the quiet I do have even more. I must warn you, however, there will be no shortage of irony as you try to find quiet as you read In Pursuit of Silence, but press on! This is a delightful book.
Reviewed by Lisa Newman www.lemuriabooks.com