Thursday, July 31, 2014

continuing silence


  For a moment i forgot how to access voice messages on my cell phone (it turned out to be a sales call). I think it was just a momentary lapse of memory, like when you forget what day it is. But, it has been a very long time since anyone has left me a voice mail.
  Even before i went silent, the amount of voice mail i receive had been in a steady decline. Texting has taken its place as the preferred way of conversing. Very few people want to listen to messages anymore.
  Texting is the fast food way of communicating. I have to admit that sometimes i miss a nice four course conversation.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

continuing silence


  I have a friend who has spent a lot of money on a new vacuum cleaner. He wanted to get the quietest model available.
  Many notoriously noisy appliances such as vacuums, washing machines, dryers and dishwashers are available in much quieter versions now. Of course, appliances that have the quieter technology are more expensive than the traditional noisy versions.
  My friend was willing to pay more to have a new quiet vacuum cleaner so that he would be able to hear his television while doing housework.

Monday, July 28, 2014

continuing silence


  When i was going to school, instructors would make class participation a contributing factor to one's overall grade. So, theoretically, even if you had perfect test scores and aced all your writing assignments, you might not receive the highest possible grade at the end of the semester because you were quiet in class. You would be penalized because you were not outspoken and opinionated during the academic year.
  Simply stated, starting at a very young age onward, we are discouraged from being silent.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

continuing silence


  Why do people whistle? Is it because they're happy? Or bored? Are they working out some kind of musical composition in their heads?
  Maybe whistling is a kind of unconscious reflex action. Like when we can't sit still, so we drum our fingers and tap our feet. It's similar to when a cat lies motionless, except for his twitching tale.
  Perhaps whistling is yet another way for some of us to avoid silence and the contemplation that haunts it. We're just whistling in a grave yard.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

continuing silence


  Now that i've become a listener instead of a talker, i've discovered that many of us don't care what other people think. We only care what we think.
  I have been watching conversations for months now and i've observed that we are the most animated and display the most enthusiasm when someone else reinforces the beliefs we already hold. Often, if any of our core beliefs are questioned or skeptically examined by another person, we tend to get defensive and even angry.
  A majority of the population react to Art in a similar fashion. If we see a painting of something immediately recognizable and pleasant to us, like a sunset, we react with enthusiasm. The painting reinforces our already held belief that sunsets are "pretty", so we immediately like it.
  But make a piece of Artwork that is unfamiliar or confronts a religious or sexual taboo....or bring up the subject of abortion at your next party...and watch tempers flare and voices rise.
  Raising your voice louder than everyone else's doesn't make you right. Shouting down or ignoring the new and different doesn't make it go away.
  Be quiet and listen. Your fear makes you deaf and blind.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

continuing silence


  Whenever i encounter groups of strangers, whether they are admiring a dog i'm walking or asking for directions, inevitably one will turn to the other(s) and say, "He can't talk." Not, he "doesn't" talk. It's always, he "can't" talk.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

continuing silence


  How obligated am i to make noise?
  I feel i am obligated to make noise as a last resort in order to prevent another living thing from harm. But am i obligated to make noise if my silence causes another living thing to feel sad, uncomfortable or angry? Is that my problem or theirs?
  Far too often we let the subjective influence of others dictate how we feel. When we are small children we use our parents' approval or disapproval as a guideline on how to behave. As we grow into young adults we mimic others and let the fear of being ostracized rule our lives. Some of us never really grow out of this way of living.
  Most of the time our ideas of beauty, morality, justice and even fun are based on what society defines them as. Even people that rebel against societal norms tend to gather in sub groups with their own modes of behavior and appearance. As a species, we are still anachronistically tribal. While we may no longer rely on the tribe for physical survival, we have come to rely on it for self esteem.
  How often has someone else "ruined your day" by making a remark? If the incident caused you no physical harm, why did their momentary subjective behavior upset you? Other people's opinions about you are often more about themselves than you, anyway.
  The noise (or silence) from others should always be viewed with an objective eye.

Monday, July 21, 2014

continuing silence


  Silence is very time consuming.
  Waiting behind people who don't go when the light turns green. Waiting to get around people who don't realize they are blocking your path. Waiting for responses to emails because you can't call the company on the phone.
  When you are silent, people become a lot less aware of you. Conversely, silence makes you a lot more aware of them.
  Silence is a futile attempt to pause life so you have time to think.

Friday, July 18, 2014

continuing silence


  Roughly 3 thousand years ago, i was dating someone and we had what i thought was an ideal solution to a common(?) problem that can occur between couples.
  Sometimes you or your partner may just not feel like talking. It's not anything your significant other did, you just want peace and quiet for a while. Perhaps you need some alone time after a hectic day.
  Often reflective quiet on the part of someone in a romantic relationship is subjectively interpreted by the other person as a withdrawal from them in particular. They become insecure and actively question and solicit the person who's only momentary objective is simply the solace of a little silence. So much unnecessary conflict can arise from this kind of situation.
  To alleviate any insecurities of a misunderstanding partner, it may be necessary to make your need for quiet plainly visible and therefore impossible to misinterpret. The person in need of solitary silence simply places a written sign on themselves that is readily visible, saying something to the effect, "I'm not upset by anything you've done whatsoever. I just feel like having some quiet time. Talk to you soon. Thanks."
  Wearing a sign while you move about in your own home may seem a bit weird, but it's not nearly as ridiculous as many of the arguments started over a simple need for occasional silence.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

continuing silence


  Man, did it hurt!
  I fell to the floor thrashing around. My mouth opening and closing in spasms of pain, i rolled back and forth. I was like a freshly caught trout on the bottom of a row boat. Completely silent, utter agony.
  I didn't make a sound and yet it still hurt.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

continuing silence


  I have taken to wearing ear plugs when i visit art museums and galleries. I want to be able to completely immerse myself in whatever work i'm looking at without any extraneous distractions.
  The thought occurred to me that i might be missing out on other art patrons' shrewd insights by blocking out all sound with my ear plugs. So i removed them for a while and listened to the observations being made around me. Some of the things i heard were interesting and enabled me to view certain pieces of Art in a new way. There are however, 3 particular comments that seemed to be repeated by a large number of people when viewing modern Art, that i would actually like to address.

  #1. "I hate abstract art. It's just a hodge-podge of paint on a canvas."

  I think the term "abstract art" is often misused. In order to create abstract art you must take something that already exists and abstract it (change it). Art that is not based on representing anything concrete should be referred to as nonrepresentational art. I mention this because i'm trying to clarify the vocabulary of Art.
  Art is a language and if we do not speak a language it often subjectively sounds like noise to us.
  I was sitting in a restaurant a few years ago with someone i hadn't known for very long. The people seated next to us were conversing in Spanish. My acquaintance muttered under his breath that this was America and that they should speak English. He called Spanish "annoying chatter".
  First, i wonder how many sailors on the Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria spoke English?
  Secondly, and more importantly, declaring an entire language to be "chatter" is completely absurd (not to mention incredibly racist).
  If my acquaintance took a little time and learned to speak some Spanish, he might discover that it's a beautiful language that contains descriptive terms and nuances that are not found in English. But it's easier to just subjectively declare something to be chatter and make uninformed and ignorant comments.
  Art is as complex and beautiful a language as any of the spoken variety used by human beings. It is well worth the time to study and become fluent in it.

#2. "I could do that."

  I very sincerely doubt it.
  I used to like to watch gymnastics. The athletes on the rings, balance beam, bars and floor were so talented and skilled that they made their performances look effortless.
  I thought it looked pretty easy, so i tried it myself. Utter right shoulder still hurts when it rains...
  Some Art looks deceptively simple, but is in reality hugely complex and extremely difficult to create.

#3. "How much is it worth?"

  What is it about our culture that compels us to place a monetary value on everything? I personally think that putting a price on a great piece of Art is like trying to stick a price tag on a sunset.
  We human beings like to "have" things. This rampant desire to own things is utterly ridiculous if you think about it.
  I was driving with a friend in a remote area of southern Colorado a couple of years ago. I gazed out the window and noticed every square foot of land that we passed by had some kind of fence around it. The absurdity of this way of thinking hit me when i saw a small mountain in the middle of a vast expanse that someone had fenced off. Someone actually felt they owned a mountain!
  The human lifespan is usually 90 years or less. Maybe a hundred if you're extremely lucky. A mountain's lifespan is usually millions, if not billions of years, more or less. To think that you could own something like a mountain or even a small piece of land of that matter, is ludicrous. You are at best, borrowing it for a very short time. (Do everyone a favor and take good care of it, please.)
  A great piece of Art is truly and actually, priceless. While living artists do have to eat, great Art belongs to, and should be accessible to, everyone. The joy it can bring and the lessons it teaches are far above any petty monetary value.

  I hope by addressing some of these misconceptions concerning the nature of Art i can help keep some of the noise down at the next exhibition.

Friday, July 11, 2014

continuing silence


  What is it that compels human beings to go "aww" at something we perceive to be cute or endearing? Or to make a "mmmmm" sound if something tastes or feels good?
  Is this a learned behavior that eventually became hardwired into our brains over generations? Or is it a kind of human "purr" that we've always had?
  If we can hard wire noises into our basic make up over time, could we do the same with silence?

Thursday, July 10, 2014

continuing silence


  I haven't heard the sound of my own voice in a long time. So i decided to listen to an old recording of it on my headphones.
  It's funny how many of us don't like the sound of our own voices when a recording of them is played back. They sound "weird" and not at all as we imagined them to be.
  We also don't tend to like pictures of ourselves unless they've been appropriately altered to better fit our own self image.
  Often, the actual truth is just not to our taste.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

continuing silence


  "How long has it been? You are going to talk again, right?"
  I've been hearing these questions from people a lot lately.
  I think many of them see this period of silence i'm doing as a burden on me. They think of it as a deprivation that i can't wait to be done with. A majority of these people enjoy talking, and maybe revel in noise as well.
  It has occurred to me that in some unconscious psychological bent, one of the reasons i began this "year of silence" was to perform some kind of penitence for my transgressions of the past. It's entirely possible.
  I often make many of my art pieces never really knowing why, until months or even years later. I make most of my artworks out of instinct. I compulsively cobble things together and figure out the semantics later. While i no longer consider this endeavor in silence to be an artwork, the basic principle still applies.
  I honestly don't know if i will make noise again. To me (so far), this isn't a sentence i'm serving, it's a vacation.

Monday, July 7, 2014

continuing silence


  My ears have been clogged up for a few weeks now. They've been like this ever since i was sick a while back. I should get them checked, but i'm really enjoying the quiet.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

continuing silence


  There are a couple of older dogs that i take care of whose "owners" tell me that they're going deaf. Yet, i could say the word "treat" from a mile away and both of them would be in front of me in 3 seconds
  I think that both dogs just got tired of fetching...

Friday, July 4, 2014

continuing silence


  July 4th, a day we celebrate in the U.S.A. by making as much noise as possible.
  It strikes me that the fireworks we enjoy so much on Independence Day, are a mimicry of the sounds of warfare. "...rockets' red glare... ", " ...bombs bursting in air..."
  I wonder if the sounds of fireworks are as pleasing to all of those that have heard similar noises on the actual battlefields of very real wars.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

continuing silence


  Orfield Laboratories informed me via email that i couldn't spend any time alone in their anechoic chamber ("the quietest place in the world") unless i was representing a major media outlet. I was told the only way i could experience it was to be part of a tour group.
  Creating an absolutely quiet environment is an amazing feat. Keeping a tour group quiet is an impossible one.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

continuing silence


  I visited an art gallery recently. It was one large space where quite a few pieces by different artists were hanging side by side.
  One piece consisted of a video with accompanying soundtrack that played continuously on a 20" monitor hung on the wall. The video was quite good as were many of the other works on display. However, the video went from quite good to relentlessly monotonous the longer i lingered in the gallery. The sound of it endlessly playing over and over as i tried to enjoy the other artworks soon became unbearable.
  I can stand in front of a great piece of Art literally, for hours. My eyes never tire of drinking in the sublime excellence of quality Artwork.
  My ears do not have that kind of patience, however. Maybe they are atrophied by years of neglect. One result of this is that i've never developed any real appreciation for music, although i believe it to be a valid and complex Art form. All my energy is devoted to seeing things, perhaps at the expense of my other senses. Every part of me is in my vision.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

continuing silence


  Being a jerk is similar in many ways to being an alcoholic. Jerks tend to be loud, and are oblivious to the way their selfish, subjective, behavior annoys those around them. Once you've been a jerk for an extended period of time, you are a jerk for life. Although, you may learn to gain control over the condition once you've recognized the problem.
  I personally, have learned to second guess everything i say and do. I have to be careful, because often my first reaction in a given situation is the subjective, "jerky" one. Quiet reflection has become an essential aid in this aspect of "rehabilitation".
  I envy the people who look back on their younger years with warm nostalgia. I now objectively look back on mine with revulsion and regret. While guilt and regret can easily turn self indulgent and morbid, they can also be a great starting point to realizing a different approach to life is required if one ever expects to find peace.