Friday, December 4, 2009

Essay: "On Noise." Arthur Schopenhauer.

One-minute review: Noise obstructs the intellect in doing its work and people who make noise—wanton, useless noise—are insensitive to the finer things in life.


“There are people, it is true—nay, a great many people—who smile at such things, because they are not sensitive to argument, or thought, or poetry, or art, in a word, to any kind of intellectual influence.”

“Noisy interruption is a hindrance to…concentration.”

On the Germans: “For a musical nation, they are the most noisy I have met with. That they are so is due to the fact, not that they are more fond of making a noise than other people—they would deny it if you asked them—but that their senses are obtuse; consequently, when they hear a noise, it does not affect them much. It does not disturb them in reading or thinking simply because they do not think; they only smoke, which is their substitute for thought.”

Recommends a work consisting of “a detailed description of the torture to which people are put by the various noises of a small Italian town.”

Great Essays. Ed. Houston Peterson. New York: Washington Square Press, Inc. 1960.

What is an essay? “They are all prefaces. A preface is nothing but a talk with the reader; and they [essays] do nothing else.” Charles Lamb.

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