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Silence: In the Age of Noise by Erling Kagge
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Silence: In the Age of Noise (original 2016; edition 2018)

by Erling Kagge (Author), Becky L. Crook (Translator)

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3841954,237 (3.54)6
What is silence? Where can it be found? Why is it now more important than ever? In 1993, Norwegian explorer Erling Kagge spent fifty days walking solo across Antarctica, becoming the first person to reach the South Pole alone, accompanied only by a radio whose batteries he had removed before setting out. In this book. an astonishing and transformative meditation, Kagge explores the silence around us, the silence within us, and the silence we must create. By recounting his own experiences and discussing the observations of poets, artists, and explorers, Kagge shows us why silence is essential to sanity and happiness--and how it can open doors to wonder and gratitude. (With full-color photographs throughout.) … (more)
Member:dominicecchini
Title:Silence: In the Age of Noise
Authors:Erling Kagge (Author)
Other authors:Becky L. Crook (Translator)
Info:Vintage (2018), Edition: Illustrated, 160 pages
Collections:Your library
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Silence: In the Age of Noise by Erling Kagge (2016)

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I’ve recently discovered that there are several great Norwegian writers (apart from Hamsun, of course) and Erling Kagge is one of them.

He is an explorer and has travelled to both the North and South Poles, and climbed Everest.

I will be reading some of Kagge’s other books, even if I have to read them in Norwegian.

Erling begins by informing us that after he discovered that he had a primal need for silence, he began to search for it, and found it.

He held a lecture about silence at St. Andrew’s University in Scotland. He talked about the silence around us and the silence within us.

The listening students asked the questions, What is silence,? Where is it? And Why is it more important to us now than ever?

This book is an attempt to answer these questions.

The author walked alone to the South Pole, where he says he could both hear and feel the silence.

He had no radio contact since he deliberately left the batteries in the rubbish bin. He never opened his mouth to speak.

Each time he stopped for a break, if the wind was not blowing, he experienced a deafening silence.

He was alone with his own thoughts and was present in his own life.

He quotes Martin Heidegger as stating: “The world disappears when you go into it”, and tells us that this is what happened to him (Erling).

The most interesting kind of silence is the one that lies within, which each of us must create. It’s possible for everyone to discover this silence within him/herself, even when surrounded by constant noise.

For him, silence in nature is of the highest value. This is where he feels most at home.

When Erling was little and lay in his crib and couldn’t fall asleep, he felt tormented by silence. It felt like a sound, rumbling inside his head.

But silence can also be a friend, a comfort and “a source of deeper riches”.

Shutting out the world is “seeing the world a bit more clearly, staying a course and trying to love your life”.

Silence in itself is rich and “a practical resource for living a richer life”. It is a deeper form of experiencing life than just turning on the TV to watch the news.

Erling says that the basic state of our brain is one of chaos. Whenever he sits quietly in a room alone without any goal, the chaos surfaces.

Blaise Pascal in the 1600s was probably the first to write about man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone, holding one’s tongue and simply being. He wrote that the present hurts, and our response is to look ceaselessly for fresh purposes that draw our attention outwards away from ourselves.

We live in the age of noise. Silence is almost extinct.

A study has shown that humans are worse at concentrating than a goldfish. Humans today lose their concentration after eight seconds, while in 2000 the goldfish averaged nine.

Another study showed that some people would rather have a self-administered electrical shock than sit in silence.

One person pushed the electric shock button 100 times.

It’s more difficult to value silence than noise.

Erling says: “Silence is about getting inside what you are doing. Experiencing rather than over-thinking. Allowing each moment to be big enough. Not living through other people and other things”.

He tells us that the fear of not having lived is even stronger than the fear of death. You my realize that you haven’t been particularly present, that you’ve lived vicariously through others.

In 2010 the urban explorer Steve Duncan and the author explored New York’s ”mystical system of underground tunnels”.

They climbed to the top of the Williamsburg bridge where below them the traffic thundered past in four lanes and the subway “pounded rhythmically”. Erling shut out the noise. He says “You must create your own silence”.

In the tunnels, Steve and Erling discovered a different world. There is never any silence and they could hardly see what was up ahead. The city never sleeps. “The train, subway and water tunnels brim with ceaseless noise. Silence is absent even deep in the sewer system beneath Soho.”

When you get bored you are experiencing experiential poverty. But instead of seeking more powerful experiences we should pause to breathe deeply, shut out the world and use the time to experience ourselves.

He says the more we try to avoid boredom, the more bored we become.

He informs us that silence is the new luxury. It is more exclusive and long-lasting than other luxuries.

Silence is about taking away, subtracting something. Silence is an experience that can be had for free.

We are told that in Jutland, Denmark, they have built a soundproof hall of silence with double doors that are thirty centimetres apart.

Dozens of people gather here regularly and sit cross-legged on their individual pillows for fifty minutes.

“The goal is for them to be reminded that life is about deep love between people, and to enable them to practise a common empathy.”

He tells us that centres for silence “are popping up everywhere”.

“Silence is about rediscovering through pausing, the things that bring us joy.”

I feel that Erling has a broad definition of silence!

Several philosophers have remarked to Erling that silence is nothing and therefore uninteresting. How can philosophers be so unenlightened, I wonder?

One of his last remarks is that trips into the wild lead to silence. Leave your electronics at home and be alone for three days without talking to anyone. Gradually you will discover other sides of yourself.

I have been so fortunate to have been “programmed” to quiet the mind during a course by the gifted American healer Jo Dunning.

Also, from the books by Frank Kinslow I have learnt how by quieting the mind I can practice Quantum Entrainment and thereby experience what he calls Eufeeling.

Eufeelings are Bliss, Unbounded Love, Peace, Ecstasy and so on, wonderful feelings. But these states of Eufeeling can only be accessed after silencing one’s thoughts

I would say that the goal of meditation is to silence our thoughts and eventually access our inner Christ or God. Silence is important.

I find it strange that the author does not mention the silence we can attain without thoughts. But perhaps he has never experienced this. ( )
  IonaS | May 15, 2022 |
This is the kind of book that asks to be digested slowly--I took a month to read it, and it's not at all very long. Kagge reminded me how important it is to unplug and just listen to the world around me. If you've ever felt a bit lost or unmoored in our world, this book can be an anchor. ( )
  ms_rowse | Jan 1, 2022 |
Silence in the Age of Noise by Erling Kagge (pp 136) - 2017. Kagge is the first person to have reached the earth’s three poles by foot: North & South Poles and the top of Everest. A self- and accurately described explorer, the author uses outdoor experiences as a starting point in discussing silence, like what he experienced during his 50 day solo walk to the South Pole (sans radio). But he goes far beyond his own experiences, roping in the writings and beliefs of philosophers Wittgenstein and Kierkegaard, artists Debussy, Beethoven, Miles Davis, and John Cage, and ideas from many others. Despite that (!), his writing is both accessible and provocative, asking the reader to contemplate what silence is and is not, and arguing silence is necessary to understand one’s self, others, and the world. In places the language and ideas seem clumsy, but I attribute that to the translation from Norwegian. Not all the examples, quotes (often poems and excerpts from larger works), and concepts ring true, but for me—grounded more in facts than theories and concepts—no more so than any other philosophical work. Overall, I found his thoughts about silence interesting and thoughtful, and his basic premise true: silence is something we need to create because it is important for our own understanding of ourselves and the world. A favorite idea and warning was from Wittgenstein: to not attempt to speak the unspeakable. Too often we try to describe rather than wordlessly share an experience; by talking about something amazing we tend to distort it, and can never portray what we see as it can be seen (or otherwise experienced). And the same goes for our internal voices: somethings the words we use in our minds get in the way of appreciating an experience.

Next time I’m out adventuring alone I will try to explore silence. ( )
  wildh2o | Jul 10, 2021 |
A wonderful, brief and contemplative book about the importance of silence. Kagge brings in music, art, philosophy and his own experience as an explorer in 33 examples of how to find silence (and why it's hard to find). It is all packaged together in a gorgeous book with full colour artistic photos from the writer, artists and NASA, and is thoughtful and positive. ( )
  ephemeral_future | Aug 20, 2020 |
A book that centers you. ( )
  archangelsbooks | May 25, 2020 |
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What is silence? Where can it be found? Why is it now more important than ever? In 1993, Norwegian explorer Erling Kagge spent fifty days walking solo across Antarctica, becoming the first person to reach the South Pole alone, accompanied only by a radio whose batteries he had removed before setting out. In this book. an astonishing and transformative meditation, Kagge explores the silence around us, the silence within us, and the silence we must create. By recounting his own experiences and discussing the observations of poets, artists, and explorers, Kagge shows us why silence is essential to sanity and happiness--and how it can open doors to wonder and gratitude. (With full-color photographs throughout.) 

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