In modern society, our cities are composed of skyscrapers, blinding lights, hidden coves of dirt and rubbish, and waves of individuals morphing into a faceless mob. The borders of these cities are made of intersubjective understandings and metaphorical lines in the sand. You enter and leave a city not through material borders but through metaphysical reckoning. The line is crossed when you go from the ‘us’ to the ‘them’. The existence of urbanites is pegged to the existence of the provincial, and vice-versa. This is what goes through my mind whenever I leave London. Whether I head to a suburb or the countryside, I sense my being crossing this threshold. Whether by public transport or by car, I look back at the big city lights whenever I sense that long and winding roads await me.
From one side of the border to the other is like turning up or down the ‘contrast’ dial on your photo editor application. You switch from amenities to simplicities, big city lights to sporadic car headlights, and you trade in the sound of noise for the tune of silence. Whenever I cross this fictitious wall, hop from one contraption of human imagination to another, a jarring feeling emerges and grabs my attention. This feeling is nestled in an intangible and fleeting element, it becomes obvious in the space that is missing: the silence of a soundless environment.
It is plain to see that the wealthy no longer believe that the material is the ultimate purveyor of status and power — this is an illusion maintained to keep us shackled to the never ending race of growing consumption — and they have now turned their attention away from production to what isn’t produced. Silence does not roar at 200 mph alongside a coast of white sand and turquoise waters, nor does it glisten in the sun as it rests on the delicate finger of commitment, it simply exists in a space that is longer accessible to the common man. It cannot be bought, nor can it be replicated or duplicated.
To sit in true silence, to allow yourself to be engulfed in an environment punctuated by no music, no vocals, no echoes, is to indulge in a culinary treat whose taste is now unknown to those who have to work to make a living, and for those who live to make something work. Our society, and our place within it, is conditioned on the premise of keeping our senses aroused through constant noise. A noise emitting from somewhere, something, is a sure constant of contemporary life: a continuous soundtrack from cradle to the grave. If you dissect your standard working day this becomes quite apparent.