Silence: In the Age of Noise

[Silence is] about getting inside what you are doing. Experiencing rather than overthinking. Allowing each moment to be big enough. Not living through other people and other things. Shutting out the world and fashioning your own silence whenever you run, cook food, have sex, study, chat, work, think of a new idea, read or dance

The book had its strong moments, but also fell flat at times.

Starting with the bad, the inconsistency and general lack of cohesion are what keep me from rating this higher. Luckily the chapters—and overall book—are short. This keeps the below average chapters from being too much of a slog.

There was another especially off-putting moment in the book when the book ventured in to the author’s thoughts on Elon Musk and the author’s perception of how Musk takes advantage of silence. In the moment we find ourselves, with Musk being a techno-conservative-cringe-memer, this left a sour taste in my mouth and made me question the authenticity of the rest of the author’s thoughts.

Beyond these moments though, the book had some thought-provoking chapters. One of the more interesting ideas that I would love to explore more deeply is the connection between class, wealth, privilege, and noise—

I believe silence is the new luxury.

Noise is also connected to class divisions. Noises made by anyone other than the person being disturbed by them, secondary sounds, set the foundation for great disparities in society. People in the lower classes are usually forced to tolerate more noise in the workplace than those in the upper classes, and their homes are poorly insulated against their neighbours’ noise. Wealthy people live in places with less noise and better air, their cars run more quietly, as do their washers and dryers. They have more free time and eat cleaner, healthier food. Silence has become part of the disparity that gives some few people the opportunity to have a longer, healthier, richer life than most others

I could read a whole book about that connection!

Overall, would I recommend this book? Probably not. But it’s short enough that one could check it out from the library, flip through the pages, and get something from it.

Book cover for Silence
In the Age of Noise
Erling Kagge