The Quiet Zone newsletter, Fall 2006 issue has the two best articles I have ever read on the "cloud" of factors that surround the thing known as noise. The Executive Director of the Noise Pollution Clearinghouse introduces the issue:
"NPC is ten years old this fall . In this issue of the Quiet Zone, we reflect upon what we’ve learned about noise, noise pollution, and noise polluters in the last decade. We examine 'what is noise pollution?' and come to a very surprising conclusion in Noise (is) Pollution. In The Nature of Noise we explore the seven things everyone needs to know about noise problems."Four excerpts from Noise (is) Pollution:
"Noise, for too long, has been defined as 'unwanted sound' and associated with annoyance. The focus on a psychological definition of noise as unwanted and the psychological response to noise as annoyance has kept noise from being treated like the pollutant it is. At best, noise is today considered a subjective pollutant, and at worst, a personal problem. In the end, we are saddled with the often repeated standoff—'One person's music is another person's noise.' "...
"First, unwanted sound places too much emphasis on the subjective aspect of noise and the subject, the 'unwanter.' While it is true that people's response to noise is subjective, this is certainly not the most important attribute of noise. Moreover, people have subjective responses to nearly every pollutant. By focusing on the 'unwanter,' noise becomes relative. I want it; you don't; and there is no reason to favor one's wants over another's except brute force—whoever has more physical, political, or economic power wins."...
"[Definition] For community noise: Noise is a human caused acoustic contaminant, aural litter or audible trash."...
"Noise is pollution. The defining characteristic of community noise is not whether we like it, but that it is a waste product, escaping from one person’s property, and contaminating another's property or a public space."
In contrast, the article The Nature of Noise discusses the problems caused by noise and some possible resoutions. The discussion revolves around seven concepts: Civility, Sovereignty, Community, Reciprocity, Power, Tyranny, and Technology.
A couple quotes from the article:
"Selfishness is not listening to what one wishes, it is asking others to listen to what one wishes."
"Noise provides the perfect tool for those who want to express their existence and power in anti-social ways. The tyranny of noise results from the fact that noise always disturbs the peace and the peaceful, while quiet never disturbs noise or the noise maker."
That very last phrase, "...quiet never disturbs noise or the noise maker," prompts a personal observation to the contrary, that one who makes noise for selfish, anti-social or tyrannical reasons does so because they cannot "live inside themselves," quietness causes them painful discomfort.
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The Quiet Zone newsletter is published by the Noise Pollution Clearinghouse, P. O. Box 1137, Montpelier, Vermont 05601. Les Blomberg, Executive Director.