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The Joy of Quiet
June 4, 2013 1:43 AM   Subscribe

"All of man’s problems come from his inability to sit quietly in a room alone."

"The children of tomorrow will crave nothing more than freedom, if only for a short while, from all the blinking machines, streaming videos and scrolling headlines that leave them feeling empty and too full all at once."
posted by paleyellowwithorange (63 comments total) 29 users marked this as a favorite

 
Some of us sit quietly in a room, alone, almost every night. Like most things, it has its pros and cons.
posted by Decani at 1:58 AM on June 4, 2013 [31 favorites]


Some of us sit quietly in a room, alone, almost every night. Like most things, it has its pros and cons.

Relevant graph: http://imgur.com/7KT69.
posted by paleyellowwithorange at 2:04 AM on June 4, 2013 [15 favorites]


I'm not alone. I have the whole internet with me. Such warm, smooth, hard plastic.
posted by cthuljew at 2:12 AM on June 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


I don't know a whole bunch about writing, but this sentence:

Since luxury, as any economist will tell you, is a function of scarcity, the children of tomorrow, I heard myself tell the marketers in Singapore, will crave nothing more than freedom, if only for a short while, from all the blinking machines, streaming videos and scrolling headlines that leave them feeling empty and too full all at once.

needs to be tied to a tree and shot.
posted by dogwalker at 2:21 AM on June 4, 2013 [40 favorites]


these aren’t New Age fads so much as ways to connect with what could be called the wisdom of old age. Two journalist friends of mine observe an “Internet sabbath” every week, turning off their online connections from Friday night to Monday morning, so as to try to revive those ancient customs known as family meals and conversation..

"NO TOYS AT THE TABLE" works as well with Matchbox cars as it does for iPads.
posted by three blind mice at 2:38 AM on June 4, 2013 [6 favorites]


Relevant graph: http://imgur.com/7KT69.

"One of the best indoor sports, feeling sorry for yourself. A sport enjoyed by all, especially the born losers."

-The Hustler (1961)
posted by FJT at 2:39 AM on June 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


This article has all the markings of a 21st century Grey Lady screed; in fact, it should be used as a prototype for writers hoping to try their hand at a NY Times parody.

Topic that's been covered in blogs, tweets, reddit forums, and online articles to the point of being boring and threadbare, but presented as a new finding? Check. Anecdotal reference to scientific experiments with no details on dates, experimental design, or raw data ("A series of recent experiments")? Check. Name-dropping of a vacation that only an extreme anal-expulsive hedge fund manager would take an interest in ("$2,285 a night to stay in a cliff-top room at the Post Ranch")? Check. Mandatory new age reference ("seem to be turning to yoga, or meditation, or tai chi") with no evidence to back it up? Check. Overly detailed humblebrag couched in language making it appear as an act of charitable self-sacrifice ("I took pains this past year to make separate trips to Jerusalem and Hyderabad and Oman and St. Petersburg, to rural Arkansas and Thailand and the stricken nuclear plant in Fukushima and Dubai")? Check.

It's the ur-New York Times article!
posted by Gordion Knott at 2:46 AM on June 4, 2013 [48 favorites]


I normally use the opportunity to have a quick tug.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 2:56 AM on June 4, 2013 [6 favorites]


Anecdotal reference to scientific experiments with no details on dates, experimental design, or raw data ("A series of recent experiments")? Check.

To be fair, Iyer cited the provenance of his information about a "series of tests in recent years" - Nicholas Carr, The Shallows.

But it's an opinion piece from a newspaper, not a journal article. It's not usual for any newspaper articles to contain detailed citations, is it?
posted by paleyellowwithorange at 3:03 AM on June 4, 2013


It's an opinion piece from a newspaper, not a journal article. It's not usual for any newspaper articles to contain detailed citations, is it?

The BBC links to papers in a section at the bottom or side. That's not too much to ask.
posted by jaduncan at 3:05 AM on June 4, 2013 [7 favorites]


Name-dropping of a vacation that only an extreme anal-expulsive hedge fund manager would take an interest in

The NYT is to wealth as the teenage magazines are to sexual activity; it's all written with the assumption that one does do these things so that the reader can enjoy the fantasy of being the sort of person who does these things in the future.
posted by jaduncan at 3:08 AM on June 4, 2013 [14 favorites]


The BBC links to papers in a section at the bottom or side. That's not too much to ask.

Well, we can ask - and I think it would be fantastic for every newspaper article's sources to be listed. But at this point, such links don't appear to be the norm in print newspapers, or their online versions.

(I may be operating with outdated information - I rarely read newspapers - so correct me if I'm wrong.)
posted by paleyellowwithorange at 3:10 AM on June 4, 2013


Name-dropping of a vacation that only an extreme anal-expulsive hedge fund manager would take an interest in

Eh, totally missing the point of the article.
posted by paleyellowwithorange at 3:12 AM on June 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


I did a 10-day meditation silent meditation retreat a few years ago. I am going again a few months from now, mainly because it is a very refreshing, inexpensive vacation option. You get to not read, write, look at anyone in the eye or speak - even to your partner - for 9-and-a-half-days; eat as much as you want; and, perhaps you'll get comfortable enough to learn something about yourself. Ignoring the will to act impulsively against things that one has no control over - the itch now growing inside your shoe - is far more useful than sitting in a room alone.
posted by parmanparman at 3:38 AM on June 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Jesus, how can any self-respecting human attend a conference on "marketing to the children of tomorrow?" And for chrissake, if I did it, I'd certainly be too ashamed to admit it...even for the dubious pleasure of bragging about hobnobbing with celebrity pseudo-intellectuals like Malcolm Gladwell...

I'm with Gordion Knott on this one.
posted by Fists O'Fury at 4:00 AM on June 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


There's something wrong with the way we live. Somewhere, other people are doing it better, more naturally, happier. Whoever we are now, we need to become someone else--more like the people who are trying to become like us. It's become so bad that we need to do it by brute force. We already have term limits so we can't continue to elect who we want and diets so we can't eat what we want, but it's not enough. I could say more but I'm following a program of limiting my posts to fewer words than they need to make sense.
posted by Obscure Reference at 4:21 AM on June 4, 2013 [22 favorites]


"All of man’s problems come from his inability to sit quietly in a room alone."

That's pretty easy to do with a smartphone full of Apps. One can write, draw, watch Stoya's latest video, create music or read.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:34 AM on June 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


"The children of tomorrow will crave nothing more than freedom, if only for a short while, from all the blinking machines, streaming videos and scrolling headlines that leave them feeling empty and too full all at once."

Turn them off? Don't go to the stores that blare them constantly?

Head to the kitchen and cook something. Or out the garden and grow something. Or down to the workshop and make something. Or find some friends and play something. Play an instrument, do a craft, make some art, write a program, sing a song, play with the kids, read a book.
posted by DU at 4:59 AM on June 4, 2013 [4 favorites]


Sometimes in the mornings I sit and stare for like, a good solid half hour but I still got problems. I got 99 problems but an inability to sit in silence ain't one. That said, I am overly dependant on distractions.
posted by windykites at 5:01 AM on June 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


For some reason this is a lot catchier than "Some of man's problems....."
posted by thelonius at 5:03 AM on June 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yes, because we all know the world had no problems before electronic media.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 5:03 AM on June 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


For our 25th anniversary, my wife and I opted to travel to a very small "resort" on the Pacific coast of Mexico, that had no phone or internet connection and barely any electricity, and you had to come in by small boat, as there were no roads into the area. It was heaven.

We had to save a long time to afford it. We hadn't been anywhere like that before. I'd go back in a heartbeat if I could afford it.

I put "resort" in quotes because it was a resort only in that it was a discrete collection of small open-air casas perched on a jungle hillside, joined by a common area where meals were served, and a nearby swimming pool. It wasn't anything like what you would usually think of a Mexican resort
posted by Thorzdad at 5:49 AM on June 4, 2013


Is it the Internet that's making us all such smug, critical assholes?
posted by nowhere man at 5:50 AM on June 4, 2013


I normally use the opportunity to have a quick tug.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 7:56 PM on June 4
[1 favorite +] [!]


GallonOfAlan

oh god

oh god why
posted by DoctorFedora at 5:56 AM on June 4, 2013 [16 favorites]


I get the flaws in the article and I started to roll my eyes and skim after the author let loose that in addition to not using Twitter/ Facebook, they don't own a cellphone (I didn't need to be told the decisions were "selfish" after that), but I do think it's a conversation worth having. We're having our first child (fingers crossed) in November and I'm scared shitless one day I'm just going to reach out and smack the phone/ Gameboy/ LCD screen connected to Heaven out of the kid's hand and scream. And what if they don't know why and don't particularly care and just turn it into a status post for their friends in the Ether ("lol, parental unit just threw a SHITFIT you guys")?

Please don't think there are any new observations here, but I'm worried every time I go to a concert with certain friends and they spend the whole time taking pictures/ video and posting the setlist. My mantra is Oasis' "BE HERE NOW". I am at a loss to explain the value of documenting something instead of experiencing it; it feels like this weird attempt to show you are living a full life but the trap is not only that it's not true but that it makes everyone at home that particular Friday night looking at Facebook feel a little smaller and worse off. Not only is a laptop in a meeting a great way to not be there but it's a fantastic way to feel like you're a productive part of the team while contributing nothing: "Huh, what's that? Oh I was just looking at Q2 revenues in light of your earlier comment." Fantastic. How 'bout having an original thought instead?

Of course, I'm totally full of shit: they didn't have any of this stuff growing up in the '80s and even when forced to attend church I spent the whole time somewhere else or worrying my palms would be sweaty when it came time to shake hands*. And I'm typing this instead of working, sitting at a desk with two computers, three screens and a smart phone laying on it. A coma may be my only hope, but in the interim I'm having shoulder surgery this month and that should be an opportunity to slow down/ stop bothering people on Twitter. Or just to become a better one-handed typer with my off hand.

* A self-fulfilling prophecy if ever there was one.
posted by yerfatma at 6:07 AM on June 4, 2013 [9 favorites]


oh god

oh god why


Because it burns like hell if you try to produce that all at once.
posted by yerfatma at 6:08 AM on June 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


The urgency of slowing down — to find the time and space to think — is nothing new, of course, and wiser souls have always reminded us that the more attention we pay to the moment, the less time and energy we have to place it in some larger context.

Fun read, but this line is dumb. Mindfulness meditation - actually, many types of meditation - is all about paying attention to the moment and nothing else. So, the whole piece indicates:

1. meditation = paying attention to the moment
2. meditation = good
3. paying attention to the moment = bad
ergo
4. paying attention to the moment = good = bad

Editor, please!
posted by 3FLryan at 6:15 AM on June 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


I have spent years struggling with this, because a love of the Internet as a child combined with owning a laptop starting in college combined with a year of somewhat major depression meant I developed computer usage habits which were... well, probably about the same as anybody else's here. And I was worried that I was somehow missing something in life.

I was, but not for the reasons I thought. It's all a matter of time. The time you invest in one activity is time you can't invest in something else. If you don't have time to do the things you want to do, it means you're spending too much time doing something else. And sometimes, when you feel like it's not that you don't have time for X, it's that you just haven't been in the mood for X, it's because you've been putting too much time into something that distracts you from wanting to do something else.

It's that last part that's tricky. If I get into a 5-hour Internet roofie circle, I won't feel like I'm missing out on anything, but I also won't record music that day. I need time thinking and not doing before any creative urge hits me. So once I recognize that, I cut back the Internet time and suddenly I have time to do what I want. But that requires pattern recognition more than anything; I suspect that plenty of people get into similar cycles that have nothing to do with the Internet, getting wasted or stoned and wondering why they aren't ever feeling like doing the things they wished they wanted to do. The Internet is just a widespread and slightly cheaper alternative to other methods of spending time frivolously.

Personally, I've found that the time I spend marathon-watching TV shows on my computer has a wonderful effect on me creatively. It almost functions like meditation: once I get the pattern of a show I can turn off those parts of my brain and focus on the parts that are busy inventing and making connections and dreaming. Whenever I get tired of that mindset I focus on the show for a bit longer and then get back into my own headspace. It's nice. Good video games have the same effect. The Internet doesn't quite so much, but that's because its patterns are more irregular and require more of an effort out of you. But you could solve that too if you were a careful enough Internet person.
posted by Rory Marinich at 6:34 AM on June 4, 2013 [8 favorites]


I'm looking forward to a vacation at the cottage with my family later this week. Boat access only, no electricity, no running water, no telephone, no cellphone service (unless you are willing to bash through the woods and climb a hill after sunset, even then it is iffy), no neighbours. Peace, quiet, out of contact with the world, just a little old run-down plywood shack surrounded by wilderness. My kids love it, and I desperately need it. It is a great joy to be able to tell work that I'm going away, and no, there is no possibility of contacting me while I'm gone.
posted by fimbulvetr at 7:00 AM on June 4, 2013


Alec Empire (from Atari Teenage Riot) once said he thought it was boredom that led to fascism.
posted by symbioid at 7:04 AM on June 4, 2013


"All of man’s problems come from his inability to sit quietly in a room alone."

The interesting thing about this thought is that it came from a man who lived centuries ago, with no knowledge of the Internet (& etc.), and presumably little knowledge about things like "mindfulness meditation," the two Opposite Things that our conversation here are mostly about.
posted by kozad at 7:20 AM on June 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


So the guy may be kind of a douche, but I for one am really glad to see that the reaction against the blaring noise of our Interweb Brave New World isn't a call for censorship, but a renewed fascination with mindfulness practices. A mindful society is bound to be a kinder, more ethical one, dontcha think?
posted by Mooseli at 7:37 AM on June 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


The hermitage he's talking about, in Big Sur, is incredibly beautiful. I would spend the weekend there occasionally when I was in grad school in the Bay Area and busy and stressed out and having much too much contact with people.

The rooms are small and spare and perfect. There is a tiny garden behind each one with a beautiful view down the mountain. There are healthy meals in the fridge, prayer services five times a day that everyone is welcome to, and a beautiful road to hike up and down looking for quail and whales and bobcats. It is the most perfect place in the world.

I don't do it so much anymore, but spending a few days being quiet is a really wonderful experience. And I'm a lot better at being human afterward. I always think about that Thomas Merton quote after coming out of a long retreat, "There is no easy way to tell people they are all walking around shining like the sun."
posted by gerstle at 8:01 AM on June 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


I think this commentary can get a bit much, but it can be good to "get away from it all" certainly. A quiet walk, a while reading a book. But then, I can be pretty introverted at times, and enjoy things. I don't feel powerless to resist the allure of entertainment, and if I wasn't enjoying the experience, I would stop it.
posted by Cannon Fodder at 8:05 AM on June 4, 2013


I am finding that I feel better mentally and physically the less free time I spend aimlessly surfing the internet.

First to go was political blogs. I do not miss them.
posted by thelonius at 8:09 AM on June 4, 2013 [4 favorites]


All of man’s problems come from that gap between the reality we desire and the reality we get. The ability to sit quietly in a room alone can help one accept the reality they are getting and thus narrow that gap.
posted by caddis at 8:11 AM on June 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Head to the kitchen and cook something. Or out the garden and grow something. Or down to the workshop and make something.

I have a kitchen, garden and a workshop? Sweet!
posted by averageamateur at 8:39 AM on June 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Thoreau said it better.
posted by seemoreglass at 8:59 AM on June 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


I am sitting here right now, trying to relax with my morning cup of coffee. I was woken up this morning by the sound of my upstairs neighbor's little kid running back and forth like a maniac, like he does regularly, about every 2 hours up until 12:30 AM. The kid seems to enjoy the booming sound he makes while running. It's so strong, a couple of days ago, he was stomping around and dishes came crashing out of my cabinets.

Now that the kid's morning fit of hyperactivity is over, I am trying to relax from this rude awakening and check my RSS feed. At this very moment, my asshole neighbor is firing up his motorcycles. He doesn't actually ride them much, he just likes to rev them up and annoy everyone. But now that has been drowned out by the lawn care service mowing the back lawn. It isn't a very big lawn, I could mow it with a little reel mower in about 20 minutes. But the lawn care service sends out the same big riding mowers to every job. Now the guy with the weed wacker is firing up, it has a distinct different pitch to add to the cacophony. And just for extra fun, a garbage truck is now bashing around a dumpster.

But I must take a positive attitude. At least my new neighbor hasn't started practicing his clarinet yet. He doesn't seem to be practicing actual music, just high speed scales and long, single tones. I am surprised I can hear him at all, since he lives in a separate building about 50 feet away. I think he's practicing to increase his volume.

Please tell me where is this quiet room where I may sit quietly. I beg you.
posted by charlie don't surf at 9:02 AM on June 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


This notion of wanting/needing to sit quietly in a room alone strikes me as ironic after listening this morning to the latest episode of 99% Invisible.
Life inside of the SHU [Security Housing Unit] at Pelican Bay means 22 to 23 hours a day inside of 7.5 by 12 foot room. It’s not a space that’s designed to keep you comfortable. But it’s not just these architectural features, that concern humanitarian activists and psychiatrists. It’s the amount of time many prisoners spend in that cells, alone, without any meaningful activity. Some psychiatrists, such as Terry Kupers, say there is a whole litany of effects that a SHU can have on a person: massive anxiety, paranoia, depression, concentration and memory problems, and loss of ability to control one’s anger (which can get a prisoner in trouble and lengthen the SHU sentence). In California, SHU inmates are 33 times more likely to commit suicide than other prisoners incarcerated elsewhere in the state. There are even reports of eye damage due to the restriction on distance viewing. Terry Kupers says that a SHU ”destroys people as human beings.”
posted by Celsius1414 at 9:09 AM on June 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


Enlightenment is relaxing in front of the T.V., but it's not on.
posted by eggtooth at 9:17 AM on June 4, 2013 [3 favorites]



An acquaintance of mine -- in fact, a retired med-school professor -- gave me the phrase "afraid to be alone with their own thoughts" to describe this phenomenon.
 
posted by Herodios at 9:24 AM on June 4, 2013


charlie don't surf: . . . maniac . . . rude . . . asshole . . . annoy . . . cacophony . . .

I don't want you to think I'm an asshole, but these are all your interpretations of other people's actions. You are in control of your own judgments, so don't let them ruin your day by thinking it's someone else's fault.
posted by stopgap at 9:47 AM on June 4, 2013 [4 favorites]


"One of the best indoor sports, feeling sorry for yourself. A sport enjoyed by all, especially the born losers."

-The Hustler (1961)
posted by FJT at 10:39 AM on June 4


I don't feel sorry for myself. I feel sorry for my victims.
posted by Decani at 10:00 AM on June 4, 2013


Celsius1414: "This notion of wanting/needing to sit quietly in a room alone strikes me as ironic after listening this morning to the latest episode of 99% Invisible. "

There's a rather big difference between voluntarily meditating and being locked away in a hole without human contact against ones own will.
posted by Hairy Lobster at 10:21 AM on June 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't want you to think I'm an asshole, but these are all your interpretations of other people's actions.

Some of these reactions are subjective, and I have written on MeFi in the past about my selective sound sensitivity. But I am also partially deaf, so usually sounds have to be particularly loud to annoy me. But I try to reserve my ire for objectively obnoxious sounds.

For example, it is pretty objectively clear that sound of my upstairs neighbor kid stomping is too loud when they shake my apartment to the point where dishes vibrate and fall from my cabinets, and light bulbs blow out. A few years back, the local garbage trucks suddenly started picking up at 4AM, it was easy to determine that local ordinances prohibited collection before 8AM and classified it as a nuisance. My direct appeals to the company management were rebuffed, it took a few calls to the Police asking for enforcement before they complied with the local sound ordinances. As for the guy with the motorcycles, yeah, he's pretty objectively an asshole, since he frequently parks his car behind the building at midnight and blasts his car stereo for about 30 minutes, inciting many other neighbors to scream at him But I suppose he isn't as bad as the guy who rented the garage under my apartment and ran a woodworking shop, with the sound of power saws running continuously for hours. He got evicted. As for the clarinet, nobody needs to justify their distaste for the shrill sound of the Devil's Musicworks. But that is certainly not as disquieting as my previous upstairs neighbor, who got evicted due to his loud practice sessions with his Mariachi band.

Let me tell you an example about objective standards for noise. I live across the street from the city park where they set off the fireworks on July 4, and the park has big concerts during the holiday weekend. One year they hired the Charlie Daniels Band, who came to town with enough sound equipment to play a huge stadium. But it's just a little park. Obviously they thought they'd show my little town what some shit-kickin country rockers could do. I had no idea this was coming. I was sitting in my office, trying to finish some work, when the sound started. It made the picture frames on my wall vibrate. I put in earplugs but I could still feel the bass. So I looked up the local sound ordinances online, and discovered these sound pressure levels were illegally loud.
So I walked across the street to the police station, bearing a printout of the local sound ordinance to make a complaint. The police asked me, what did I expect them to do, tell them to turn it down? Yes, that is exactly what I expected. They refused to take my complaint, so I insisted that I wanted to file a written complaint. And they did nothing. I went back home and the thunderous noise continued for a couple of hours. I would have tried to leave the area but the traffic of people going to the concert prevented it.
A couple of weeks later, I got a call from the Chief of Police. He said he was reviewing paperwork and he saw my complaint and he wanted to talk to me about it. I said I lived right across the street, would you mind meeting in person? I can be there in about 2 minutes.
The Chief took me into his office and told me that he read my complaint, and I was right. He would have been compelled to pull the plug on the concert and shut it down completely. And he did receive a radio call about my complaint, but he said he was near the concert stage and he could not hear his radio at all, which endangered the public and his officers by hindering their communications with the dispatcher. He thought the concert was unusually loud and was surprised that no complaints had come in, at the very time I was complaining. The Chief said that the ordinance, as written, required him to act upon citizen complaints such as mine. He spoke about my complaint with the City Attorney and he agreed the law would have compelled them to immediately shut down the concert for clearly violating an objective measure of sound intensity. The Chief told me that I would probably want to go to the City Council meeting that night, since they were in the process of amending the sound ordinance to remove the clause that I used to complain. And this was the second reading, it had already been discussed at the previous meeting and would be voted into law tonight.
So I went to the City Council meeting. When I spoke during the public comments, I noted the extreme loudness of this year's concert compared to any previous ones, and that this certainly had an impact on local citizens, particularly the retirement home/assisted living facility adjacent to the stage. It disturbed me, and my apartment is a block away from the park, facing away from the concert. The new ordinance would allow exceptions for any sounds at "customary" events like fireworks or concerts, if they were approved by the Council. The Mayor accused me of trying to spoil the centerpiece of the festival, the fireworks, and denounced me as being unAmerican. I responded that I was not trying to stop the fireworks, I enjoyed them although I had to wear earplugs. The sounds of the fireworks are deafening, but short and intermittent, while the concert went on for hours, continuously. I denounced the new ordinance as unAmerican, since this country is established on the principle of "Laws, not Men," and that it was improper for the Council to use their personal discretion to permit nuisances they deemed as proper but were in violation of other ordinances.
Now the amusing thing about my comments and debate, is that they occurred during a severe weather alert. As I spoke, lightning was striking in the park, so close to the meeting that the thunder startled everyone to the point they would jerk around in their seat. I felt like some weather god had summoned up an example of my complaint. Perhaps they Councillors felt it too, but they each took turns to denounce me as unAmerican. Then they voted to approve the amendment to the sound ordinance.
The next matter on the Council agenda was to vote themselves a fat pay raise. I must have been sitting there with my mouth open in astonishment, because the Mayor looked directly at me and said, "I just want to point out that we are not voting ourselves a pay raise, since that is illegal, and the raise goes into effect only after the election for the new Councillors." Of course this was a sham because these people had been re-elected for many years, with the backing of local business interests.
The Council's response was corrupt and vindictive, it seemed like a personal attack. And that is exactly what it was. After the meeting, the Mayor came to talk to me, and asked me if he remembered me from when he was principal of XYZ Junior High. No, I never attended that school, that was my little brother, who was quite an asshole back then. The Mayor was acting out his anger at the little kid he hated 20 years earlier, mistaking me for my little punk of a brother.

Now I put it to you this way. If my objections were so unreasonable, why would the City Council have to go to such lengths to rewrite the law with the specific objective of preventing my complaints? Why would the Council have to vote to allow each concert to a waiver on the existing sound ordinances? That seems like doing this acknowledges these sound levels are illegal under objective standards. But I note, in the many years since that time, no concert has ever approached the sound intensity of the one I complained about.
posted by charlie don't surf at 11:18 AM on June 4, 2013 [4 favorites]


"I don't have a smart phone" is the new "I don't even own a television."
posted by webmutant at 11:22 AM on June 4, 2013 [4 favorites]


I normally use the opportunity to have a quick tug.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 2:56 AM on June 4


Disturbingly eponysterical

posted by mmrtnt at 11:47 AM on June 4, 2013


1. meditation = paying attention to the moment
2. meditation = good
3. paying attention to the moment = bad
ergo
4. paying attention to the moment = good = bad


Why is meditation so different from tarrying online if they seem to have so much in common? Has to do with the kind of attention being paid. The one is contemplative, detached, patient, steady, and unresponsive. It attends to what's concretely in front of it without any evaluation.

The other is a hair-trigger, flighty attention hungry to leap out of whatever's present in front of it now in deference to what's newer, brighter and more threatening. It's more a paying-attention-to-the-moment-to-come, in my own personal experience of the thing. It's heated, unsteady, responsive, impatient, and can readily be baffled. For me it's closer to inattention; it involves discomfort with stillness or lack of motion or with whatever's right here for me now.

I don't want to call either good or bad. I will say that I emerge from the two cognitive arenas in very different states of mind.
posted by jjjooooossshhh at 11:50 AM on June 4, 2013


All of man’s problems come from that gap between the reality we desire and the reality we get. The ability to sit quietly in a room alone can help one accept the reality they are getting and thus narrow that gap.

How does one tell the difference between accepting the gap and just, you know, giving up?
posted by prize bull octorok at 11:52 AM on June 4, 2013


"I am sitting in a room . . . "
posted by yerfatma at 11:55 AM on June 4, 2013


Here's Brad Warner's take on why meditation is important. I thought this was a good summary, but then I also liked the bunny suit.

Charlie don't surf, I feel for you. People should have the right to live in peace and a certain amount of quiet. I hope you'll be able to move to a quieter spot someday, one with an unamerican municipal government.
posted by sneebler at 12:11 PM on June 4, 2013


"I am sitting in a room . . . "

Sitting In My Room

I suppose I should refrain from further threadjacking. But the whole premise of the article is ridiculous. An average, normal person does not have the luxury of attending a "black hole resort" in Big Sur for $2300 per day. But on the other hand, everyday life should not be an attempt to meditate and stay calm amidst extreme disturbances. Life should not be like Rinzai hitting his monks with a stick. My own buddhist sect thinks Zens are misguided, enmeshed in Spiritual Materialism, attached to their pride at being able to endure provocations without disturbing their holy meditation.

And for that same reason, I don't buy Nick Carr's Shallows argument. Nor do I trust the author, who culminates his article with descriptions of his 20 years of pilgrimages to the holy silence of a Benedictine monastery, then sneers at another person at the retreat because he works for MTV. I am sorry, your moments of solitude do not make you a more spiritual person than other poor members of the lumpenproletariat that are so disappointing to you and your Oxford-educated peers.
posted by charlie don't surf at 1:15 PM on June 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Hey, I got hit by a Rinzai stick, and it wasn't a trick!....it was refreshing,
like a splash of Aqua Velva!! ...and my teacher coined the term "Spiritual Materialism".
posted by eggtooth at 1:58 PM on June 4, 2013


How does one tell the difference between accepting the gap and just, you know, giving up?

Surrender to reality
posted by caddis at 2:01 PM on June 4, 2013


The author is right; I don't have time to sit here and read this article.
posted by Eideteker at 2:05 PM on June 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


"How does one tell the difference between accepting the gap and just, you know, giving up?"

hear the cruel no-answer 'til the blood drips down
beat your head against the wall of it

Ikkyu 15 Century Zen Poet
posted by eggtooth at 2:06 PM on June 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


...Zens are misguided, enmeshed in Spiritual Materialism, attached to their pride at being able to endure provocations without disturbing their holy meditation.

I only know about Soto Zen, but that sounds like people making stuff up based on little or no actual experience. To put it another way, this provocation is like a cloud passing across the sky. It looks like a guy in a bunny suit.
posted by sneebler at 6:04 PM on June 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


I only know about Soto Zen, but that sounds like people making stuff up based on little or no actual experience.

Um.. "I only know about Soto Zen.. little or no actual experience."

I am speechless.

this provocation is like a cloud passing across the sky

Yes indeed, this is the exact problem with zen. The disturbances of life are like clouds passing in the sky. Watch the little fluffy clouds drift, meditate, sit there absolutely still and do nothing to relieve the suffering of all creatures.
posted by charlie don't surf at 10:02 PM on June 4, 2013


I normally use the opportunity to have a quick tug.

First you must learn to hold it in stillness.
posted by homunculus at 12:07 AM on June 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


Wow. That first paragraph, and the elitism threaded throughout that piece of crap, made me want to punch Pico right in his face.

Perhaps in the future (now?) only the wealthy will be able to afford the luxuries of peace and solitude.
posted by nowhere man at 5:06 AM on June 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


An average, normal person does not have the luxury of attending a "black hole resort" in Big Sur for $2300 per day
sit there absolutely still and do nothing to relieve the suffering of all creatures.


I think you are missing the roar of the forest for the sound of the trees falling over. You don't need to go to Big Sur to find your own black hole and I don't think many people seek out Zen because they want to start ignoring the problems of others.
posted by yerfatma at 6:40 AM on June 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


"I don't have a smart phone" is the new "I don't even own a television."

Hmmm...but "I don't even own a television" is the new "I watch netflix on my smartphone"...I think my brain just broke.
posted by 3FLryan at 4:13 PM on June 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


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