Silence is not a luxury. It is crucial to our physical and mental heath. We need it to think, to sleep, to recover from life’s frenzy
The 20th century, declared Aldous Huxley in 1946, had been “the Age of Noise. Physical noise, mental noise, and noise of desire – we hold history’s record for them all.” As a pacifist, Huxley blamed the war. But he also blamed technology for the “assault on silence”.
The first use of a PA (public address) system was for a Christmas carol concert at San Francisco city hall on 23 December 1915. But despite being something of a futurologist, Huxley could scarcely have predicted the way in which the later generations would crank up the dial on the noise of the world. In the UK, the Noise Abatement Society was founded in 1959 after its founder, John Connell, wrote to the Times complaining that “noise is the forgotten pollutant in our society”.