AotPE: On Noise

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


“On Noise” was interesting in part due to my opinion that the essay was truly about noise. By now, I should know that the first subject of the essay serves as a “spring board” for a bigger topic.


At first, I thought (for the duration of the first paragraph) that Seneca was “super human”. Seneca describes living over a bathhouse in the first paragraph. He describes the cacophony of noise he heard. Seneca heard, “grunting as they [strenuous types of people exercising] toil away… the hissing and strident gasps every time they expel… the smack of a hand pummeling his [someone who is receiving a massage] shoulders… ball player… shouting the score... someone starting up a brawl…” Seneca appears to have ears of steel (or deafness), until he explains later that he doesn’t pay attention to the noise at all.


The essay then “bounces” off the idea of ignoring loud noises to say that things won’t be a bother if one ignores it. Seneca mentions sleeping at night. He argues that “night” does not give a person anymore peace or rest than “day” does, rather, it is the mind at rest that causes sleep. Seneca writes, “Naturally enough he [ owner of a house] to tosses from side to side, trying to snatch some fitful sleep in between spells of fretting and complains of having heard sounds when he has never heard them at all. And what do you suppose is the reason? His mind is at ferment… The fact that the body is lying down is no reason for supposing that the mind is at peace.”

Seneca ends the essay with a witty allusion to The Odyssey. He concludes, “Why should I need to suffer the torture [noise] any longer than I want to when Ulysses found so easy a remedy for his companions even against the Sirens [Ulysses, the hero of The Odyssey, made beeswax earplugs so his crew could not hear the luring songs of the Sirens.]”

I like Seneca’s way of writing, and his way of concluding… Ahh~~~ If only I had half his wit, but sadly, I have none…

alice-jane

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