Silence | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Thursday, November 30th, 2023  

John Biguenet


Published by Bloomsbury

Oct 12, 2015 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

Silence is the latest in Bloomsbury Publishing’s Object Lessons series, which features short, pocket-sized books about common or ordinary things. Previous titles in the series include Hotel, Phone Booth, and Waste. According to the publisher’s website, “Object Lessons paints a picture of the world around us, and tells the story of how we got here, one object at a time.”

John Biguenet is a writer, playwright, and university professor who, in this volume of the series, tackles silence. Biguenet examines how we define silence, how we seek silence, how we sell silence, and how silence relates to things such as reading, the stage, secrets, and even dolls. He talks about how true silence is virtually unachievable in the modern world and how people become disoriented in pure silence. In the most personal and most insightful chapter in the book, Biguenet talks about how he sought but could not find silence in the wake of the disaster of Hurricane Katrina after he and his family had to flee his home in New Orleans. Biguenet talks about how he found that he could not read. The catastrophic circumstances in which he found himself rendered him without the ability to turn off, to silence enough of his consciousness in order to devote the necessary mental energy to reading. Reading requires one’s ability to silence one’s self.

At the end of Silence, Biguenet contemplates the future. As he writes amidst noise and commotion, the “hum” of the modern world as he describes it, he read a National Geographic article about whales and how passing ships disrupt their ability to communicate with one another. Their “silence” is broken. Thus, we are left to consider how silence or lack thereof impacts not only us but the entire ecosystem around us. It’s a poignant reminder that in the modern world, with its hectic pace and ever present noise, sometimes what we most need is the one thing we can’t seem to get.


Author rating: 7/10

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