Category Archives: silence

Clinic X

Dalrymple writes that in the waiting area of Clinic X, somewhere in France,

I found it quite relaxing: I had bought a book with me that I was able to read. Suddenly I realised why this was so: not only were the chairs in the waiting area comfortable, but there was no electronic stimulation or compulsory entertainment whatsoever.

There was, he says,

  • no television
  • no pop music punctuated by drivelling presenters
  • no advertisements
  • no bullying propaganda

There was no assumption by the management that, rather than people being left to their own devices, they needed to have the gap in our minds filled with

  • the weather forecast
  • stock prices
  • football results
  • news of sexual scandals in high places
  • pictures of scenes of war
  • episodes of soap opera
  • cookery programmes

It is a sign, says Dalrymple,

of how we are overburdened in public places by such prophylaxis against our own thoughts that the absence of it came not only as a surprise, but a relief, as after the putting down of a heavy burden.

Pop music leaks everywhere like poison gas

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The Hook of Holland

It is impossible to escape it, writes Dalrymple, who is travelling by ferry to Harwich from Hoek van Holland. It is also, he says, hard to avoid

the malign flickering of huge screens, relaying drivel at a volume exactly calculated to make it impossible alike to follow it or ignore it. It is as though the ferry company believes that no passenger can bear to be alone with his thoughts, not for a second. Perhaps it is right; I have noticed that people brought up in an age of continuous entertainment find silence disturbing and even frightening.

The young Dalrymple

He was, he admits, sullen, like many youths. On the other hand, silence was not then in his nature.