Combatting Noise With Noise

I seem to be far more sensitive to noise than the vast majority of people. This is particularly apparent when I travel by coach, especially when going to work in the morning. I treat the two and a half hour journey to Victoria as a period for meditation, contemplation and creative thought. Interruptions are by no means welcome.

When the passenger sitting nearby thoughtlessly plays a video on their smart phone without using earphones, I have a weapon with which to retaliate. I have the means to produce sound at a much higher level of volume than that which is rudely intruding into my inner world of calm. Rather than confronting the inconsiderate traveller, I choose to combat sound with sound.

I’m not surprised that Beethoven was deaf. Have you heard his symphonies? What a noise! In certain parts one has the impression of a solid, impenetrable wall of sound. Then there is the marked use of dissonance in passages that waver between chromatic brilliance and the borders of cacophony.

In case you think me unreasonable in resorting to the use of superior decibels to counteract a rather muted but nevertheless annoying noise, let me assure you that the sound from my iPad is directed not at my fellow passengers but into my own ears. In fact, to make sure that I do not disturb others, I wear high quality headphones.

With the volume turned up high, the puny sound from across the aisle stands no chance of getting through. And oddly, with the magnificent music of the incomparable Beethoven battering my ears, I am able to remain relaxed and focused in my reverie.

The Knot Garden approves of the use of carefully weighed confrontation when no alternatives exist but urges us to consider other solutions first.

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