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One of the challenge points on the Better World Books 2017 Reading […]
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When did the "silent deeps" become cacophonous and galaxiesbegin to swim in a sea of cosmic noise? Why do we think that noises have colors andthat colors can be loud? How loud is too loud, and says who? Attending, as ears do, to a surround of sounds at once physical and political, Hillel Schwartz listensacross millennia for changes in the Western experience and understanding of noise.From the uproarious junior gods of Babylonian epics to crying infants heard overbaby monitors, from doubly mythic Echo to amplifier feedback, from shouts frozen inRabelaisian air to the squawk of loudspeakers and the static of shortwave radio, Making Noise follows "unwanted sound" on its surprisingly revealing paththrough terrains domestic and industrial, urban and rural, legal and religious, musical and medical, poetic and scientific. At every stage, readers can hear thecultural reverberations of the historical soundwork of actresses, admen, anthropologists, astronomers, builders, composers, dentists, economists, engineers, filmmakers, firemen, grammar school teachers, jailers, nurses, oceanographers, pastors, philosophers, poets, psychologists, and the writers of children's books.Drawing upon such diverse sources as the archives of antinoise activists and radioadvertisers, catalogs of fireworks and dental drills, letters and daybooks ofphysicists and physicians, military manuals and training films, travel diaries andcivil defense pamphlets, as well as museum collections of bells, ear trumpets, megaphones, sirens, stethoscopes, and street organs, Schwartz traces the process bywhich noise today has become as powerfully metaphorical as the originalBabel.
Endnotes and bibliography are not included in the physicalbook but are available online at the MIT Press Web site.
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