[The modern age] knows nothing about isolation and nothing about silence. In our quietest and loneliest hour the automatic ice-maker in the refrigerator will cluck and drop an ice cube, the automatic dishwasher will sigh through its changes, a plane will drone over, the nearest freeway will vibrate the air. Red and white lights will pass in the sky, lights will shine along highways and glance off windows. There is always a radio that can be turned to some all-night station, or a television set to turn artificial moonlight into the flickering images of the late show. We can put on a turntable whatever consolation we most respond to, Mozart or Copland or the Grateful Dead.
I wanted to scream as I stood there, my toes hanging over the edge of the dock. I wanted to let a gut-wrenching howl rip from my disfigured throat toward those clouded skies. I wanted to say every swear word my mother had ever taught me not to say.I would have settled for a cut-off whimper, just as long as some kind of sound came from my lips.
The overwhelming noise we live with has made a fundamental pleasure like sex somehow less exciting, less satisfying, than it was for our libidinous forefathers and mothers. It seems to me that for sex and other pleasures to be enjoyed to the fullest, a certain contemplative quality to life must be present. If you doubt this imagine yourself for a moment having sex. Now imagine you wished to increase the pleasure you were feeling, feel it more intensely. What might you do? Well one of the things you'd probably do is close your eyes. What this does of course is shut out other stimuli. The visual quiet increases your sensual enjoyment and you concentrate more fully on the pleasure. The same is true for the removal of auditory noise as well. Well my feeling is that the average person has a much harder time doing this today than they would have decades ago. Today you close your eyes and shut off Television but the noise persists. It's part of our fabric now, our biology, and all other pleasures including sex are diminished as a result. We don't notice this derogation by the way and sex still feels great, don't get me wrong, but I think the difference is there nonetheless. Like the difference between seeing breasts when you're thirty as opposed to when you were thirteen.
...the solitude was intoxicating. On my first night there I lay on my back on the sticky carpet for hours, in the murky orange pool of city glow coming through the window, smelling heady curry spices spiraling across the corridor and listening to two guys outside yelling at each other in Russian and someone practicing stormy flamboyant violin somewhere, and slowly realizing that there was not a single person in the world who could see me or ask me what I was doing or tell me to do anything else, and I felt as if at any moment the bedsit might detach itself from the buildings like a luminous soap bubble and drift off into the night, bobbing gently above the rooftops and the river and the stars.