I loved this, and read it in the relative silence of the fridge gurgles and background electronic hums. Silence is rarer than anything else. I felt it deeply once when I was in the internal chamber inside Newgrange, Ireland, and we purposefully stood quietly in the palpable absence of sound or light. And I too find that silences in speaking speak reams.

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May 29·edited May 29Liked by Roger’s Bacon

Tao te Ching, Chapter 11:

“Thirty spokes share the hub of a wheel;

yet it is its center that makes it useful.

You can mould clay into a vessel;

yet, it is its emptiness that makes it useful.

Cut doors and windows from the walls of a house;

but the ultimate use of the house

will depend on that part where nothing exists.

Therefore, something is shaped into what is;

but its usefulness comes from what is not.”


I soon found, however, that he had fixed up a radio and put it in going order, and now he

inserted the loudspeaker and said: "Munich is on the air. Concerto Grosso in F Major by


And in fact, to my indescribable astonishment and horror, the devilish tin trumpet spat out,

without more ado, a mixture of bronchial slime and chewed rubber; that noise that owners of

gramophones and radios have agreed to call music. And behind the slime and the croaking there

was, sure enough, like an old master beneath a layer of dirt, the noble outline of that divine

music. I could distinguish the majestic structure and the deep wide breath and the full broad

bowing of the strings.

"My God," I cried in horror, "what are you doing, Mozart? Do you really mean to inflict this

mess on me and yourself, this triumph of our day, the last victorious weapon in the war of

extermination against art? Must this be, Mozart?"

How the weird man laughed! And what a cold and eerie laugh! It was noiseless and yet

everything was shattered by it. He marked my torment with deep satisfaction while he bent over

the cursed screws and attended to the tin trumpet. Laughing still, he let the distorted, the

murdered and murderous music ooze out and on; and laughing still, he replied:

"Please, no pathos, my friend! Anyway, did you observe the ritardando? An inspiration, eh?

Yes, and now you tolerant man, let the sense of this ritardando touch you. Do you hear the

basses? They stride like gods. And let this inspiration of old Handel penetrate your restless heart

and give it peace. Just listen, you poor creature, listen without either pathos or mockery, while

far away behind the veil of this hopelessly idiotic and ridiculous apparatus the form of this divine

music passes by. Pay attention and you will learn something. Observe how this crazy funnel

apparently does the most stupid, the most useless and the most damnable thing in the world. It

takes hold of some music played where you please, without distinction, stupid and coarse,

lamentably distorted, to boot, and chucks it into space to land where it has no business to be; and

yet after all this it cannot destroy the original spirit of the music; it can only demonstrate its own

senseless mechanism, its inane meddling and marring. Listen, then, you poor thing. Listen well.

You have need of it. And now you hear not only a Handel who, disfigured by radio, is, all the

same, in this most ghastly of disguises still divine; you hear as well and you observe, most

worthy sir, a most admirable symbol of all life. When you listen to radio you are a witness of the

everlasting war between idea and appearance, between time and eternity, between the human and

the divine. Exactly, my dear sir, as the radio for ten minutes together projects the most lovely

music without regard into the most impossible places, into respectable drawing rooms and attics

and into the midst of chattering, guzzling, yawning and sleeping listeners, and exactly as it strips

this music of its sensuous beauty, spoils and scratches and beslimes it and yet cannot altogether

destroy its spirit, just so does life, the so-called reality, deal with the sublime picture-play of the

world and make a hurley-burley of it. It makes its unappetizing tone—slime of the most magic

orchestral music. Everywhere it obtrudes its mechanism, its activity, its dreary exigencies and

vanity between the ideal and the real, between orchestra and ear. All life is so, my child, and we

must let it be so; and, if we are not asses, laugh at it. It little becomes people like you to be critics

of radio or of life either. Better learn to listen first! Learn what is to be taken seriously and laugh

at the rest. Or is it that you have done better yourself, more nobly and fitly and with better taste?

Oh, no, Mr. Harry, you have not. You have made a frightful history of disease out of your life,

and a misfortune of your gifts. And you have, as I see, found no better use for so pretty, so

enchanting a young lady than to stick a knife into her body and destroy her. Was that right, do

you think?"

"Right?" I cried in despair. "No! My God, everything is so false, so hellishly stupid and

wrong! I am a beast, Mozart, a stupid, angry beast, sick and rotten. There you're right a thousand

times. But as for this girl—it was her own desire. I have only fulfilled her own wish."

Mozart laughed his noiseless laughter. But he had the great kindness to turn off the radio.

Steppenwolf - Hermann Hesse

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May 29Liked by Roger’s Bacon

Reading these words, it occurs to me that some cooked dishes can only finish after being removed from heat. The absence of heat permits the food to complete itself, to become itself, to become integrated. Is expression only enervating noise without a finishing of silence? What do I even mean by that? I'm enraptured by Picard's words and your contemplations. This is beautiful stuff.

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an apt metaphor I think! To be clear, all of the writing here is from other people, just sharing because I too was enraptured - glad you found it valuable.

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May 29Liked by Roger’s Bacon

Sorry for the error, but thank you for turning me on to The Convivial Society! I already ordered the Picard book.

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No worries at all, wish I could take credit for that writing! Convivial Society is great, big fan.

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May 30Liked by Roger’s Bacon

I read in an article that spoke about silence, not sure if it also included darkness, in a nutshell it said that finding either silence or darkness is diminishing to the extent that one probably has to travel to get a few minutes of that experience.

It reminds me of camping out with a talkative friend who would startled me by speaking as he approached the morning campfire. If I didn’t see him coming, his voice sounded like a thunder clap, then he would invariably turn on the radio…

Thanks for the Bacon.

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Jun 2Liked by Roger’s Bacon

Loved it! Thank you.

Saw a quote recently by Disco Elysium Art Director Aleksander Rostov, “Distance from “the real” is the space in which we can inject additional meaning (or fuck around in).” He talked about art of course, but if we take “the real” as reality, noise, language and “the space / distance” as silence, I feel it does acquire new wonderful meanings!

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ohhh great quote/line of thought! I'm reminded of:

"There are still too many things that do not yet exist, to paraphrase a memorable expression by Eduardo Viveiros de Castro (1998)."

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