Thursday 10 October 2019


The always resonant Kottke directs our attention to a thorough-going essay from The Atlantic contributor Bianca Bosker on noise pollution and the deleterious long-term effects that one’s acoustic environment has on one’s health, significant negative impacts dismissed because of the receding nature of the culprit. Despite how we fancy ourselves to adapt to the din of city streets, we cannot turn off our ears and the attendant physiological stress responses are activated even if we manage to sleep through it.
Germany has far more robust regulations and social norms against producing a racket and my experience is far different than the nightmare anecdotes that we read about but I do wonder at my own sonic landscape and how it switches so abruptly from the workweek in a crowded apartment complex alongside a busy road (still tolerable, I’d argue, but now am given cause to wonder if I’m not deluding myself since the only habituation to clatter is training oneself to be even more sensitive and bothered by it) to the holidays and weekends home in a tiny village in a clearing in the woods, serenaded by nature and very little traffic other than the occasional rumbling tractor. The story brings out the assault that becomes intolerable—especially for those without the privilege to remove themselves from the worst-planned and intrusive environs, but also features plenty of meditation on personal soundscaping and finding peace and quiet.