Prochnik spoke to audiologists who told of exposure to noise can cause loss of hearing. He went in pursuit of noise to determine the pursuit of silence; he spent time in restaurants, shopping malls, dance halls, neighbourhoods and construction sites. He visits a monastery where they practise silence. During this time, the author claims that in practising silence he could almost hear his thoughts jump out of him. In his words:. “silence made everything resonate.” The Trappist Monks use silence as their mother tongue. To be silent is to withdraw from the world and engage in mental cleansing.
The author researches the technicality of hearing and outlines the purpose of making noise; animals and birds make noise as a weapon; humans project their voice to be heard or to gain power over others. Prochnik discusses the use of music in every facet of our lives; be it in the privacy of ourselves, at home or in public spaces. He outlines the design of parks as a respite from the city noises and their advantages for people who live and work in the city. Prochnik’s conclusions are that we are surrounded by noise and as individuals we ought to determine the level of noise we can tolerate to enable us to have a healthy lifestyle.
In Pursuit of Silence is a thoroughly researched topic by George Prochnik who delivers his research in an easy to understand format that takes the reader on a journey to a variety of places to find silence; its relevance and its meaning.