GOOD

Killer Beats: Why I'm Making a Film About the Pursuit of Silence

I’m making a film about silence. It sounds a little strange, I admit. After all, you can’t see or hear silence, so how does one make a film about it? You’re probably also wondering, “Why silence? what’s the big deal?” Like silence itself, my fascination with it is a bit mysterious to me.


It might have something to do with the fact that I have virtually no experience of silence in my life. Then there's the fact that people throughout the ages have gone to the ends of the Earth, literally in some cases, to seek it out. And what would cause someone like celebrated artist Jean Arp, one of the founding members of the Dada movement, to say that "we have turned our backs on silence"? I know this: silence is mysterious, elusive, and powerful and I'm somehow drawn to it, like many others before me. I also know, as we all do, that our world has gotten ridiculously noisy and that silence, whatever it is, is quickly passing into legend.

You wouldn't think that something as harmless as sound could pose a serious enough threat to garner the attention of groups like the World Health Organization and National Institutes of Health. It indeed has. So severe is our noise problem that the WHO has labeled noise pollution as the second-most pressing threat to public health, after air pollution.

Have you noticed how loud it has gotten? If not the airplanes roaring above our heads or the screeching brakes of a subway car, maybe you've noticed the barrage of text or email notifications sounding off around us or the constant din of traffic underlying your daily soundscape. If you're like most people, you drown it out with yet another layer of sound, perhaps of the musical variety, often pumping at high volume through a pair of small speakers jammed into your ear canal. Or maybe you've gotten good at psychologically "tuning out" the noise around you.

Apparently tuning it out isn’t good enough. According to the mounting evidence, our bodies, which have no mechanism in place to "tune out" any sort of auditory stimuli, are suffering. Stress, heart disease, increase in blood pressure, and lower productivity aside, some of the research even suggests that noise can kill on the spot. Low frequency sounds, like those produced from ventilation and heating ducts, can resonate with the frequencies of our body cavities vibrating in time with the chambers of the heart, increasing the potential for thrombosis.

Technology exponentially grows more advanced by the week and promises to make us more efficient, green, productive, connected. With every new gadget we introduce into our lives, so expands our daily soundscape. What are the implications of this for a hunter-gatherer species that has been conditioned for over a million years to react instinctively to sudden, loud events?

In the midst of all this innovation, we struggle to hear ourselves think, imagine, and connect with ourselves. So flooded are our brains that we are always reacting to something. If sound hinders activity in the pre-frontal cortex (our conscious minds) as the research shows, then what possibilities lie in silence, when we are given room to think, reflect, and imagine?

I hope to find out. If you’re just as intrigued by silence as I am, check out the Kickstarter campaign for my film In Pursuit of Silence and help me tell this story.


This project was featured in GOOD's Saturday series Push for Good our guide for crowdfunding creative progress.

Articles
via Douglas Muth / Flickr

Sin City is doing something good for its less fortunate citizens as well as those who've broken the law this month. The city of Las Vegas, Nevada will drop any parking ticket fines for those who make a donation to a local food bank.

A parking ticket can cost up to $100 in Las Vegas but the whole thing can be forgiven by bringing in non-perishable food items of equal or greater value to the Parking Services Offices at 500 S. Main Street through December 16.

The program is designed to help the less fortunate during the holidays.

Keep Reading Show less
Communities

For more than 20 years. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) has served the citizens of Maine in the U.S. Senate. For most of that time, she has enjoyed a hard-fought reputation as a moderate Republican who methodically builds bridges and consensus in an era of political polarization. To millions of political observers, she exemplified the best of post-partisan leadership, finding a "third way" through the static of ideological tribalism.

However, all of that has changed since the election of Donald Trump in 2016. Voters in Maine, particularly those who lean left, have run out of patience with Collins and her seeming refusal to stand up to Trump. That frustration peaked with the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.

Keep Reading Show less
Politics
via Truthout.org / Flickr and Dimitri Rodriguez / Flickr

Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign looks to be getting a huge big shot in the arm after it's faced some difficulties over the past few weeks.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a leading voice in the Democratic parties progressive, Democratic Socialist wing, is expected to endorse Sanders' campaign at the "Bernie's Back" rally in Queens, New York this Saturday.

Fellow member of "the Squad," Ilhan Omar, endorsed him on Wednesday.

Keep Reading Show less
Politics
Photo by HAL9001 on Unsplash

The U.K. is trying to reach its goal of net-zero emissions by 2050, but aviation may become the biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.K. by that same year. A new study commissioned by the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) and conducted at the Imperial College London says that in order for the U.K. to reach its target, aviation can only see a 25% increase, and they've got a very specific recommendation on how to fix it: Curb frequent flyer programs.

Currently, air travel accounts for 2% of global greenhouse gas emissions, however that number is projected to increase for several reasons. There's a growing demand for air travel, yet it's harder to decarbonize aviation. Electric cars are becoming more common. Electric planes, not so much. If things keep on going the way they are, flights in the U.K. should increase by 50%.

Nearly every airline in the world has a frequent flyer program. The programs offer perks, including free flights, if customers get a certain amount of points. According to the study, 70% of all flights from the U.K. are taken by 15% of the population, with many people taking additional (and arguably unnecessary) flights to "maintain their privileged traveler status."

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet